Entrepreneurs keen to innovate and continue to evolve their business should be wary of three traits that block an entrepreneurial spirit—certainty, attachment and seduction.
Having a beginner’s mindset allows for seeing new connections between concepts and therefore new possibilities. The biggest blocker to this mindset is certainty. It is important to be certain about the intention and purpose of your business, however being certain about the shape of an idea in the early stages of its formation can also be dangerous. Certainty is informed by prior experience and we are hardly ever in exactly the same circumstances. Certainty can be one of the greatest risks to open-mindedness. Gaining new knowledge requires us to expand our belief system but, when we are sure we already know something, new information can’t get in. Certainty about your current reality translates into a refusal to learn and stifles creativity and experimentation, two important characteristics of an entrepreneur.
During the early stages of idea formation, entrepreneurs must remain open and continue to learn about their idea and how they might bring it into the world. This will inevitably require them to change and morph it into something that can be realized.
Along with certainty comes attachment. When we are certain about our idea and how it is going to come into reality, we can also become attached to it. This attachment further prevents the likelihood for us to change our idea in light of some new insight or fact. For example, your idea might be to connect female entrepreneurs and you want to do that online. Any new information that suggests another method of connecting female entrepreneurs other than online is likely to be cast aside if you are attached to the idea of an online service. In addition to this, you may come across information which may suggest your idea would be stronger if it wasn’t about female entrepreneurs directly, but about connecting their businesses directly. Attachment prevents the exploration of any new idea associated with your original one. Below are some questions you can ask yourself, to challenge whether you have idea attachment:
- What am I not willing to compromise? Write of list of attributes you are not willing to compromise regarding your idea. Use something like a product or business canvas to help inform your thinking.
- What am I attached to? From the list understand which specific attributes you are particularly attached to.
- What is at risk if I were to compromise on this point? At the base of a sense of attachment is a sense that something is at risk that we need to protect. Explore what that might be for you.
- Does this attachment serve the outcome of my idea? Reconnect with ‘why’ your idea exists in the first place. What outcome is your idea in service of? The answer to this question should sound like an impact rather than an activity. For example: providing mobile laundry solutions to the homeless is an activity. An outcome is, helping homeless people retain their sense of dignity.
- What is the best scenario if I do compromise? Imagine a scenario in which you let go of your attachment and the outcome is still achieved. This helps you move past your attachment and see an alternative possibility.
Just like with people who attract our attention, we can fall in love with attractive solutions and we succumb to solution seduction. We become attached to an attractive solution before we understand the full context of the issue at hand that needs to be redesigned. It can be dangerous to converge too early on your idea with a solution. Converging too early on a solution stops you from exploring other, perhaps more meaningful or profitable alternatives. Below are some symptoms of solutions seduction:
- You have a fixed perspective on how this idea will come into being.
- You perceive others’ ideas relating to yours as criticism and feel you need to defend your vision.
- You feel other people’s suggestions are not as good as your idea.
- You think if you don’t create it exactly as it appears in your mind’s eye, it will be wrong.
- You find it is nearly impossible to compromise on any aspect of your idea.
Unfortunately, the only way out of this is to break up with your idea. It might not be a complete break, you might choose to continue to see each other, you just need to come to understanding that you need to see other ideas.
When you allow yourself to experience other ideas, they bring richness and color to your own. From here, your chances of finding a more engaging, complete and resilient idea is heightened.