For most entrepreneurs and creatives, the issue is rarely starting something, but finishing something. A close second issue would be leaping to change something that may not need disrupting - or at least not the disrupting you're proposing.

There are legendary examples, like last year's $700 juicer, but we all can be guilty of wanting to change a group we haven't taken the time to understand. There is one simple way to start a new idea while respecting the community you want to influence.

First observe, then participate

Diving in head first can be exhilarating - and also sloppy. The biggest risk usually isn't in losing your shirt or getting your ego hurt. The real trouble occurs when you don't know, and therefore cannot fully respect, the community you are serving.

Listen to any new activist or changemaker entering a community and the first thing response they almost always hear is, "You can't help us." The painful part is that the community is right. You can't build, influence or uplift a community until you have actually embraced the community in its current form. And often, the best way to embrace it is to immerse yourself in it.

This is much easier when you take little steps, hence The Bite-Sized Entrepreneur series. As I mention on a recently-released Business Rockstars interview, I started as a journalist covering tech culture, then an author and, many years later, actually became part of tech culture to help influence it founding my two apps. For me, becoming a founder was a natural progression because I already understood the world I was working to influence.

Support, emulate and create

The most useful process can be to support the people in your ideal field, emulate those that you love and respect and build your idea with low stakes in mind.

By supporting the people in the idea field, you are showing love to the community in which you want to eventually serve. In fact, by supporting the people, you are both serving the community and becoming a part of it, too.

Emulating those that you love and respect means paying homage to the greats that came before you. It could be in a virtual capacity, like with my favorite book The Daily Stoic, or spending time with leaders within the community you want to be a part of.

Lastly, building your idea with low stakes means slowly creating your movement as a side hustle, a bootstrapped idea or as a simple, no-frills endeavor. As any creative will tell you, the intention changes when what you love becomes how you financially survive. Putting less at risk enables you to prioritize the community you're building and serving over your own short-term financial gain.

My bootstrapping co-founders and I found this with Cuddlr, our hit app that got acquired less than a year after it launched. It was amazing, and beautiful, to be able to make every decision with the community at the forefront because we followed this simple rule.

Published on: Aug 30, 2018
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