“Ideas never come fully formed – you just have to get started.” – Mark Zuckerberg, Harvard Class of 2017 Commencement Speech
This is a particularly powerful quote for the time being, and it is really one of those quotes that makes a lot more sense when we repeat it to ourselves. If there is one line that any entrepreneur, creator, or innovator should have picked up from this commencement speech, it is this one. Have you ever had an amazing idea, but never decided to pursue it because it didn’t seem feasible? I can assure you that this happens to me a lot, and I am sure it does to you as well, but those ideas or sparks of inspiration do not come fully formed – that is the key part we tend to miss. We need to do something about those ideas to further explore their feasibility. It is crucial to get started on at least a basic prototype.
One does not just wake up one morning, and decide to create something revolutionary. Hollywood has created a culture where we think that in order to start a business we need to have a “eureka moment” – this kind of sudden eye-opening moment that helps you better understand a previously misunderstood problem. As we can see in any movie, one entrepreneur gets an unexpected epiphany, decides to act on it, and then go on to create a multi-million-dollar company. This makes us believe that we too need to have an epiphany before starting anything. We believe that we need to find an edge, something that no one has ever done before in order to get started. I really do believe that people find those new opportunities every day, but shoot down their own ideas because they may seem “unfeasible”. They shoot them down before trying to further develop the idea into a prototype.
While it is important that your idea is able to create value for other people before diving into it, it is equally as important to get started on something else than the ideation part. You have to be willing to do research on the idea, experiment on it by asking friends and potential future users of your product, maybe then create a prototype, and see what happens.
Facebook as we know it today, did not come as a fully formed idea either. Facebook, or “thefacebook.com” as was the case before, started with Zuckerberg creating Coursematch. Coursematch was a study tool to help Zuckerberg, and his classmates connect on internet and prepare for the final exam together in his Art History class. Coursematch helped Zuckerberg understand that there was a need for people to connect and create communities on internet. Hadn’t he started with Coursematch, Zuckerberg may have never found this edge. His partial idea of connecting students using an online tool is what then started evolving through different iterations in what we know as facebook.com today. Zuckerberg did not have one eureka moment, and decided to go build a multi-billion-dollar company. He just had an idea that started shaping the more he did something around it (building Coursematch, connecting people at Harvard etc.).
I hope you too get started working on an idea of your own, or one of the ideas you can get through the blog’s weekly startup ideas newsletter. Take your partially formed idea, and turn it into a fully formed one.