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Best Advice for a Young Entrepreneur

So many times in life when someone has a great idea they hold onto it. Afraid to do one of two things…tell someone about it or go after it and make it a reality.

I bet anyone that reads this blog post can think back to an incredible idea they once had and never did anything about it. Or perhaps you have this idea that continues to grow inside your mind, body, heart and soul day after day and year after year BUT you haven’t done anything about it. There are, however, people on this huge planet that never spark an interesting idea or come up with a way to make something easier or better. I’ve been around for 28 years and well, I never met anyone like that, but I was told they are out there.

Maybe it was our mothers and fathers or maybe it was our school systems or maybe it was “society” in general that didn’t promote the discussion and openness of ideas. We live in a very selfish world so part of me thinks that when someone has an idea they are afraid another person will capitalize on it, run with it, start the business/idea and leave the originator in the dust. Sometimes I think people are so afraid to hear “well goodness, that is just a stupid idea!”. I hear that weekly. Sometimes even daily. I know Emily has rolled her eyes a few times at me when I tell her about an idea or a business opportunity that could “change our lives!”.

I’ve never been one to come up with an idea, sit on it, let it stew in my mind for months or years and never do anything about it. Quite the opposite actually. Some of my closest friends call me an Idea Man (which I love). I have an idea and minutes later I am throwing it on a wall or spitting it out like verbal vomit and waiting to see people’s reaction. Same goes with the story of Finish Line.

One afternoon I wrote an email to 10 of my close friends in the DC/VA area that all had similar interests – rowers. I then sent that same email to a group of friends from Florida and then again to a group of friends from the north. By the end of the day I sent my idea out to 30 people. I took my time creating my message so that when I DID send it, the email/message was exactly how I wanted to present my idea. Wouldn’t you know? Less than 10 minutes after sending it I got a response. “Alex! That is an awesome idea buddy! Seriously!! How can I help?” Then another came in “Alex! Great idea man. I think you should look into the Baltimore area because I know real estate is pretty inexpensive. Let me know what else I can do.” Then another came in “Dude! Great idea. I love the name! What is your tag line going to be? We get you there faster? How about that? Let me know how I can help!”

Moral of the story? People want to help! Friends want to help! No one is out to get you or wants to steal your idea!

As I said in the beginning, everyone (nearly everyone) has ideas and dreams. Entrepreneurs are the ones that turn those ideas and dreams into reality. There are SO FEW Entrepreneurs in the world that it is almost stupid NOT to talk about your idea to people. Even if you present your idea to an Entrepreneur I found there is an unwritten law…or perhaps it is written somewhere, I don’t know…an Entrepreneur is not to steal another Entrepreneur’s idea. Period. Donzo. NADA. NEVER.

You know what else telling your friends, family and colleagues does to your idea? It makes YOU do the work and get it done. It’s almost like that extra step that’s needed to make a dream a reality. Do you think I would of started Finish Line if I DIDN’T talk about it? Heck no! I created constant pressure. I created reassurance. I created support. All by telling my friends and family my idea.

The second moral of the story? If it weren’t for those initial 30 people I wouldn’t be where I am today. Finish Line grew over night. Those 30 people also gave me new ideas and different ways to view a company. Those 3 emails that took me no more than an hour to write gave me advice and guidance.

Before you start telling all your friends and family about your wonder idea I give you two warnings:

1. DO NOT present an idea unless you have had some time to create the message you feel confident presenting. You don’t have to have all aspects of the business created. You don’t have to have a business plan drawn out. There are downsides to this. Which leads me to my second warning.

2. BE PREPARED TO HEAR THAT YOUR IDEA IS WORTHLESS. I had 13 people (yes, I remember each and every one of them) tell me that I shouldn’t do it. That creating a service business like Finish Line is a dumb idea because of the competition, the time commitment and the energy that it takes to run a successful shop. The words are discouraging. And unless you are confident in your idea and believe that you can make it come true, you will stumble like so many people do when they hear negative feedback

Don’t let your own limiting beliefs stand in your way. If you have an idea, let the world know it. Start small. I promise you that it will come to life.