Does Your Great Idea Need To Be Put Out Of Its Misery?

Brant CooperThere was once a prospective entrepreneur who spotted a niche in the boating market. After nurturing his idea for a while, he was persuaded to do some research to see if it was feasible.

But when he went and spoke to marina owners and operators, they were noncommittal. Boat owners were non-plussed. Then, at the Boston Boat Show, he saw a business owner at a booth selling the same idea. He had been struggling for three years to make a go of it and was just scraping by.

Entrepreneurs are a scared bunch, said Brant Cooper (@BrantCooper). They are usually scared their idea may not work. Sometimes they are scared it may work too well. Other times, they are scared their idea will be stolen.

Speaking at a Dublin Institute of Technology College of Business seminar, Cooper is author of the Entrepreneur’s Guide to Customer Development and the upcoming Lean Entrepreneur.

Entrepreneurs “are scared to find out their dream may not come true,” Cooper said. Another start-up asked advice on an educational site they had developed. Cooper suggested a button with a call to action to gather metrics.

“I don’t want to put a button up there. What if they don’t click it?” the entrepreneur asked. “If they don’t click it, you don’t have an idea,” Cooper replied.

That is why the potential boating entrepreneur — who came back to Cooper and his business partner happy and relieved that he would be spending no more time on an idea with little potential — was unusual. Such courage is rare, and the pair gave the entrepreneur a fictional Old Yeller award, Cooper said.

Based on a book and then a movie from the 1950s, Old Yeller tells the tale of a boy and his beloved dog. “It’s a super sad story where they had to kill the dog in the end,” Cooper said to laughter.

  • Image of Brant Cooper courtesy Kaufmann Foundation.
  • Image of Old Yeller is a publicity shot copyright Walt Disney Co.