We, as a collective culture, love ideas. We obsess over trying to come up with them because we believe they are the magic bullet that can create overnight success.
TV shows like Shark Tank, The Profit and more allow us to live vicariously through someone else's ideas. But ideas don't create success, action does. While it's true there are some ideas (The Internet, smartphones, fidget spinners, Eight Minute Abs) that are impossible to resist, most ideas take a lot of things to fall in place to work.
You're Most Probably, Most-Likely Not The Exception
Unless your idea is that .01% of ideas it is going to have to educate consumers, fight for visibility among well-established incumbent competitors. You'll have to carve out a clear position in the marketplace, figure out how to scale quickly and if you're lucky enough to succeed you'll have to stay relevant to fend off new competitors.
That's not meant to scare you, quite the opposite. Like a lawyer you should be prepared. You should never asks questions that you don't have an answer to already. If you bring one idea, one reason why you should succeed to the Royal Rumble that is entrepreneurship you'll be out of the ring in ten seconds.
So bring five, ten, fifteen, the more, the merrier.
Giving Vague advice for all industries isn't that effective because it's too general. So for a concrete example I tackled the difficulties and successes of healthy retail brands.
You're Creating A Mission, Not A Product
"Now more than ever, people understand that what they eat impacts the ways they feel physically, emotionally, and mentally. We want people to know that they have a choice and a voice when it comes to their food, what's planted and how it grows," Arjan Stephens, Executive Vice President, Nature's Path.
Healthy companies know that the health benefits of their products alone may not be enough. They have to keep the prices close to their competitors, find shelf space and most importantly tie their mission to their product benefits.
"More and more people are understanding the value of using business as a force for good," said Nova Covington, Founder and CEO, Goddess Garden. "In the past, most companies were just seen as a necessity, but that role is changing. Businesses have the power to effect change and consumers are looking to align with companies that share their values. Consumers are voting with their dollars, and supporting companies who value people and the planet."
"Nature's Path is committed to the three 'Ps': people, planet and profit - in that order. To us, success in business is only achieved by first being socially responsible and environmentally sustainable and then financially viable," said Stephens. "One can't exist without the other, and every year we strive to make it further down the path of corporate sustainability.
"We are conscious of the fact that the average North American organic grain farmer is 60+ years of age. As these individuals begin to think about retirement, we must think about our supply chain and how to encourage new farmers to organic. Given this, Nature's Path has purchased over 11,000 acres of organic farmland and continues to work with farmers, industry organizations and government to further the cause of the organic movement and ensure its strength for generations to come."
Breaking In Isn't Easy So Be Patient
Goddess Garden was started after Covington's daughter had an allergic reaction to a skin-care product. "In 2005, we attended our first event, the Telluride Bluegrass Festival. I was still making an entire line of products, and we took them all to the festival. At 9,000 feet with intense mountain sun, we sold out of natural sunscreen by the second day," said Covington.
The small company grew up at the Boulder Farmer's Market, following in the footsteps of amazing brands like Celestial Seasonings and Justin's. A good idea, that sold out in two days still needed four years for its big break. So be patient.
"In 2009, we sold sunscreen to our first Whole Foods store, and launched our products in 100 natural grocery stores around the country, Fast-forward about 12 years and Goddess Garden has become the largest organic sunscreen brand in the United States," said Covington. Goddess Garden is a certified B Corp, and is sold in over U.S. 20,000 retail stores, including Whole Foods, CVS, Walmart, Target, Kroger, plus many other natural retailers and grocery stores throughout the U.S. and Canada.
Every business starts somewhere. Don't look for overnight success. Be patient and create a business that allows you the time to be patient.
"People always ask me how Goddess Garden became an overnight success. I laugh," said Convington. "The reality of growing a successful business was quite different. We just took things one step at a time, one day at a time but luckily a lot of great todays led us to where we are now."