Entrepreneurs Need More Than a Cool Idea to Stand Out From the Crowd

Entrepreneurs Need More Than a Cool Idea to Stand Out From the Crowd

The entrepreneurial landscape has changed dramatically from Gen X through Gen Y and now on to the Millenials. For Gen X, entrepreneurs were the non-conformists and if you wanted to pursue the entrepreneurial path, you were considered to be “outside the norm.”

Here we are now with the Millenials, and a generation where entrepreneurship is hot. Every school teaches it, and the resources now available to entrepreneurs are endless. Networking, teaching, funding, tools, resources and most importantly, information; all are readily accessible to today’s entrepreneur.

The good news for Millenials is that data and information is quickly and easily accessible. The fall out is that you have this flood of new ventures and ideas to the point where good ideas are ending up in the recycle bin simply because there are just too many for an investor to diligently sift through.

Historically, an entrepreneur would have had to make a lot more assumptions about the market place when pitching an investor that would ultimately remain invalidated. Conversely though, the Internet and other tools have now leveled the playing field, providing entrepreneurs with the opportunity to convert relevant information into actionable insight.

Differentiating oneself goes far a “cool idea” with some supporting financials in this day and age. Understanding the knowledge base and awareness of those inventions that predate their own, and understanding the soft spots that still remain, will help an entrepreneur convey and describe their business in a way that will resonate with investors and consumers alike.

The process of finding this information, digesting it, applying it and shaping it to the ecosystem they’re working in, will help a budding entrepreneur stand out from the crowd and amongst other things, avoid ending up in the recycle bin of prospective investors.

In previous generations, an investor would learn of a new idea from a trusted ally who came to you and said, “You ought to look at what so and so is doing because their idea is phenomenal.” This gave instant credibility to that idea and simultaneously gave that idea a leg up on all others.

As I speak from years of experience, there are few ways entrepreneurs can differentiate themselves from the rest when it comes to the pitch.

Good leaders engage the members along the journey with curiosity and seriousness while listening intently and being appreciative of feedback. There is an element of genuineness and authenticity in the relationships a venture will cultivate that is very, very important.

Let’s take the financial value proposition where an entrepreneur pitching investors would state the value, why people are going to buy millions of these widgets and why they’re going to pay big bucks for them.

As this is happening, what do you think the listener is doing?

Doubting.

They’re thinking of why that’s not true and why that won’t come to be, so if in your preparation you preemptively include that portion in you’re pitch, you will immediately control the situation and stand out from the crowd.

For example, if you were to say, “I want to open an ice cream store in northern Maine,” and immediately follow that with, “I know you’re all thinking that in northern Maine ice cream isn’t going to sell for 7 months of the year, however here is the answer to that concern.” Continuing with, “You might still think that Maine isn’t a good place because the population is low, but let me tell you why the population isn’t that important to us.” Closing with, “I know you all might be thinking that Maine is too close to the ocean and too close to the mountains as an impediment to success, but here’s why this is actually in our best interest.”

If you go through that process, of what that person who will be listening might be thinking, and asking questions of the listener to either preempt their concerns, or alternatively, let the scenario play out and have a chart on the information or very succinct answers to the same regard, you will prove to the audience that you are presenting more than just a “cool idea” and financials to justify your request for an investment. It will display the knowledge base and awareness you possess that will differentiate you from the rest.

A smart leader will look at this as an opportunity to engage someone.

For the entrepreneur who stands up there it is all about what they know, their knowledge of the field, and the whole infrastructure around that field.

  • How do the insurers behave?
  • How do the buyers behave?
  • How do the suppliers behave?
  • Conveying information surrounding regulations and the regulatory environment.

These are all examples of how an entrepreneur can convert the information that is readily accessible to them and differentiate themselves above and beyond financials and a “cool idea.”

I’d say that the one characteristic I’ve seen over the years within those who are successful, and that which I would rate highest when predicting success, is tenacity. Tremendous work ethic and tenacity to not give up, and to go the extra mile to make that one last phone call or open that last door, to me is the one success factor that is most telling.

The tenacious entrepreneurs that I’m interested in are the ones that hear the investor and try to dig a little deeper to answer their questions.

For example, if an investor were to say, “To me you’re just another product that will be brought to the CFO of a hospital and you’re in a crowded space.”

Automatically this is an opportunity for me as a venture to say, “Tell me more. Tell me about some of those other products that are being brought there. Do you know how they’re being reacted to? How they’re being priced? Do you know what the decision making process is?”

There is an opportunity here to learn more about how the system works and how to introduce that to your own thinking rather than just trying to get them off your back and saying, “No no, we’re different.”

When posed with those questions, embrace that opportunity and engage with a learning mentality and reciprocity into the intrigue of their questions to find out more.

Someone once told me that as a musician, you have to give your best performance whether there are two people in the audience or it is a packed house. The same applies to new ventures, you’re always on stage and you must be prepared to perform no matter who is in the audience.

It is a mindset to always have your game face on and even more so, to be on the lookout for these opportunities, so that you can differentiate yourself from being just another venture with financials and a “cool idea.”

People invest in people; people who they believe have what it takes to make this venture a success!

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