Over the years of having taught entrepreneurship to a variety of audiences, one thing that continues to surprise me is the increasing frequency of this question’s occurrence. “Should my idea be unique to be successful?” It seems to me that this ‘myth’ has almost assumed propositions of ‘truth’ that it takes a lot more effort to help aspiring entrepreneurs see through the illusory nature of this untruth. This belief has also resulted in a disproportionate amount of entrepreneurship efforts spent on ideation and creativity. While they are important for the success of a business they are not enough for success of an enterprise.
Looking at the innumerable businesses that succeed and fail, it is becoming fairly clear that the ones which succeed are not necessarily the ones that are unique. In fact it seems that the more common the idea the more the chances of success. And the more unique the idea the more the chances of failure! While it seems quite contrary to popular belief, almost any level (even minimum) of analysis clearly indicates that uniqueness has nothing to do with possibility of success. In fact if there is one thing that it relates to, it is the possibility of failure.
This leads us to the real question that many entrepreneurs want to actually ask – “If I share my idea, won’t people copy it?” While it seems like a worthy risk to worry over, it is a fall out myth of the previous one. During a recent program at Indore, at the end of the three day interaction, one of the aspiring entrepreneurs came out in front of the class and confessed: “Apart from all the other learning during the three day workshop, my biggest take away is that I need not worry any more of any one copying my idea. What I realized is that it will take even me a lot more hard work to turn my own idea into a profitable business. This now gives me enough mind space to actually stop worrying over the loss of my idea and start speaking more widely about it. It also gives me the absorption capacity to seek input on my ideas from as many useful people as I can meet.”
I not only thanked the participant for his honest declaration but also appreciated him for his courage to do so. Was this trait itself not indicative of his entrepreneurial nature? Why should we worry so much over ideas themselves? After all was it not a wise man who quoted, “Success is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration.”
So the next time you hear entrepreneurs spending their time worrying over the loss of their ideas, think again – is there really a loss over loss of ideas?