If I received a dollar every time I heard the phrase "I had that idea" uttered in passing - say when, Sara Blakely (founder of Spanx) tops another self-made Billionaire list--I'd likely be on that list alongside her. Here's the thing: ideas are plentiful, and while purchasing a domain and launching a website is relatively easy and inexpensive, executing is still hard. Really hard! Frankly, there is no resource checklist or accelerator program or pre-packaged mentorship kit to completely ease the challenges of starting and growing a business. It's for this reason (I believe) that many of us simply have "good ideas"--we may aspire in our minds to build the next Spanx but we don't know how or lack the motivation to move that brilliant billion-dollar idea into action.
To hopefully guide you out of idea mode and into entrepreneurial action, here are more stories from entrepreneur and startup peers (who better to learn from!) on how they started executing on the ideas for their ventures:
Alicia Caputo, Avrio Analytics
How She Got Started: Working in the finance and healthcare industries, Alicia Caputo saw the volume of data available to companies--as well as how poorly it was being used. She was also paying careful attention to the possibilities with Artificial Intelligence and automation of technical workflows, believing that there had to be a way to bring that technology within the reach of more companies. Seeing that connection between amazing research in physics and how it can be practically applied to the real world was the push she needed to start her predictive analytics company.
One Resource That Helped Her Get Started: Knoxville Entrepreneurship Center
Gillian Morris, Hitlist
How She Got Started: Before launching Hitlist (an app that alerts you when there are cheap flights to the places you want to go) Gillian Morris was a security analyst and journalist working in the Middle East and Central Asia. To get started on her travel app idea, she began learning to code then participated in a Lean Startup workshop (followed by a Startup Weekend to really kickstart her business planning). Gillian knew she was really serious about pursuing her idea when she emailed all of her technical connections with an offer to fly them to Istanbul (where she lived at the time) in exchange for helping her build a prototype.
One Resource That Helped Her Get Started: Lean Startup Machine workshop
Cathy Deano and Renee Maloney, Painting With A Twist
How They Got Started: Cathy Deano and Renee Maloney were active volunteers in the Mandeville, LA community long before Hurricane Katrina however, what they started as a distraction from that terrible natural disaster, has now turned into a national business venture blending an art studio experience with socializing and de-stressing with friends. Cathy and Renee started with a little location in Mandeville, upon seeing the impact the venture was having they decided to open another location in New Orleans and from there by franchising the concept, Painting With A Twist took off! Now, there are more than 290 Painting with a Twist studios in 36 states.
One Resource That Helped Them Get Started: Mentor, Melanie Bergeron, founder of Two Men and Truck who encouraged the duo to stick to their core values and to have the courage to be innovative in developing their business.
Melissa Broadway, M1 LLC
How She Got Started: Melissa Broadway jumped into entrepreneurship right out of college, working successfully for 15 years on events in the music industry before she decided she needed to evolve her business to align with the digital and entrepreneurial landscape she was working in. Her first of many ah-ha moments began once she committed to re-inspiration of the ways she could apply her skills (inspiration which she found in spades in the vibrant Las Vegas startup community where she is based). M1 is now omnichannel: part speakers bureau, part partnership-based public relations and part brand integration, working with clients online and IRL.
One Resource That Helped Her Get Started: Henry Rollins' book "Get in the Van" as well as being willing to work for free in order to get her foot in the door.
Felena Hanson, Hera Hub
How She Got Started: After being laid off from a Marketing Director position with a San Diego based high-tech company in 2003, Felena Hanson started a marketing strategy firm. Also around this time, she took on leadership positions with several professional women's organizations. Between her growing consulting business and her leadership roles, Felena found she was constantly challenged to locate suitable work and meeting space. It was a few more years (and many aggravating workspace moments) before she was introduced to the concept of co-working spaces. Then after studying the business model (as well as space design and amenities) Felena had her 'aha' moment and the concept for Hera Hub was born: a spa-inspired workspace, designed especially for women. From concept to first Hera Hub location took about 12 months--and was financed by Felena's personal savings and a loan from a close family member.
One Resource That Helped Her Get Started: A strong mentor (Linda Lattimore - founder of Women's Global Network).