Intellectual Property and Trademarks and Patents, o my! Sean Solberg is a protector of ideas and as a patent attorney at Fredrikson & Byron, you know this extended episode is loaded with strategic value. Ben, Sean, and BEN BOT discuss patentability and building to go big, even when you’re small. We also encourage business owners to be bold by looking for what exists, versus hoping it doesn’t.
Nobody cares about your great ideas.
They care how we make ideas happen.
This tribute to action was originally titled execution, but that’s insufficient. To honor such ingenuity, let’s loudly celebrate those who apply action to nudge the world, by calling them executionists.
Executionists appreciate planning, but don’t get stuck in endless brainstorms. They’re not rushing into bad ideas, but they are often the first to tinker. Action-based execution is why the title of my book (and podcast) will remain true. It even grounds the preface of You Don’t Need This Book, which I thought might be neat to highlight here:
There are good reasons why we have so many clichés about talk being cheap. Action is required when it’s time to get things done. Cheers to so many who don’t stop at ideas. Heretics who build when others don’t. Leaders who choose to make a ruckus without permission and in doing so, go beyond the status quo by evolving ideas into reality.
Executionists keep the promise.
Executionists leverage uncertainty.
Executionists perpetually learn by doing.
Executionists connect dots with real skills.
Executionists courageously communicate.
Executionists take time to be detailed oriented.
Executionists stay organized to be efficient.
Executionists add pieces to the puzzle.
Executionists enjoy shifting gears.
Executionists are Serendipitists.
After three years, decisions were made to spin away from the weekly cadence of my writings. Fresh episodes of YDNTP will continue brewing innovative energy each week and occasional contributions may still land into Roasted Reflections, but these last few writings of 2023 are a closing finale.
The echo of an idea is always fading.
How can we extend ideation long enough to activate early moves, blow through barriers, and maintain lasting enrollment? This is clearly a loaded question. Much goes into enabling ideas into reality and the rate of an idea’s degradation depends on a million factors, but let’s sip on the artistry of pushing without being pushy.
As seen in the Ideation and Research chapters of YDNTB, personal reflection is the easiest way to think through the various angles that might make an idea interesting. This private contemplation doesn’t require much skill and we don’t get stuck trying to earn the attention of others. Unfortunately, the ease of your own activity is matched by the hardships that await those who don’t let ideas breathe. This is why stealth mode is precarious and ongoing customer discovery is key.
Will you spend time or money?
When we share a new idea with someone else, the situation becomes complex. This is the moment we put our idea on a hook. It’s when we push past fear and invite doubt. Connecting dots within such complexity is difficult, takes time, and is never straightforward. Research helps to build confidence and adds clarity to how opportunities are articulated. While this preparation helps guide others through layers of understanding faster, a blend between patience and urgency is required to align interest.
This makes blunt repetition tempting, but ineffective. Whether it’s potential co-founders, mentors, early adopters, or investors, more of the same (without execution) can chase away interest. To avoid potential fading too fast, find different ways to motivate movement.
For a fun visualization, let’s imagine a small pond. If one pebble drops in, the lonely ripple would be obvious, but also fades fast. While it made a splash, it’s soon forgotten. Now, imagine many pebbles being thrown in different ways, all around the pond, and over time. The pond is now alive! The echo of each pebble is magnified and the abundance of rippled collisions leave a more lasting impact.
Like this pond full of pebbles, we can nudge progress long enough to activate action by adding variety into how we introduce and continue to explore an idea. Conversation in different environments, creative analogies, inquisitive questioning, active listening, talking about anything else, releasing reluctance, or getting more people involved are all ways you can keep building without seeming frantic, repetitive, or desperate. This intentional diversity allows different echos of one idea to each feel different, and yet, all bounce in the same direction.
The right decision is often the one you make.
When questions linger, they get heavier over time. When I talk about writing a book with aspiring authors, I share how a sense of paralysis occurs. Whether it’s from the writing or publishing process, this mental jam is not from a lack of options, but instead, so many. While it’s important to understand options, the key to momentum is to simply make each decision.
This is not as easy as it sounds. No matter how big or small the decision might be, the fear of getting it wrong stands in the way. Fortunately, while life or death decisions do occur, most of the time, a wrong decision only requires extra resources to make it right. Bad decisions add up, but if it’s just one decision that’s part of a longer sequence, even slight missteps can still move us closer to where we want to be.
What decision is holding you back?
The decision I’m wrestling with, is if I should continue with my weekly writings. I’m so thankful for the reading room that is Roasted Reflections. It’s been a privilege and a blessing, but I’ve made sacrifices to ship this art every week for almost three years. I hinted at this in Recursion, but with the end of 2023 in sight, it’s time to decide if/how I should continue with this ambitious cadence.
Perhaps I’ve written what needs to be said, at least for now? Would these jolts of energy be missed if they were gone? Writing helps us understand our thoughts, so it’s nice to know if I do turn down the volume, the Roasted Reflections library isn’t going anywhere. I could still occasionally add fresh writings and we’ll stay connected with new episodes of You Don’t Need This Podcast brewing every week. What could I do with the extra bandwidth? Hmm…
I think it’s time. I’ll make this decision here and now.
The next four months (17 weeks) will be sequenced to say farewell to my weekly writings at the end of 2023. I’m so thankful for this remarkable ride we’ve shared together. Every writing will continue to be pure human, thoughtfully crafted, and brewed to keep us building. This will be an emotional process, but we are one my friends. People like us, do things like this, so cheers to all that is next.
After a few early moves, developing a business plan is a hearty exercise. Business plans are less pivotal than some scholars preach, but writing a business plan does force you to pick through the details of your business. This deliberate planning will help pave a path toward sustainability. The understandings will also help you articulate honest details to potential co-founders, investors, and early adopters.
I considered sharing the original FliteBrite business plan from 2016, but decided to keep this detailed document offline. That said, if you’re building and would like to look at this multimedia masterpiece, send me a note and we’ll look at it together! If you’d like feedback on your emerging business plan, I’d be happy to discuss that as well.
This first version of a business plan does not need to be super long, but it should include a handful of key elements. While this can feel heavy, the work you previously put into wireframing and canvasing will lighten the load as you flesh out details. Below are the traditional elements to include:
- Executive Summary
- Company Description
- Market Analysis
- Products & Services
- Marketing & Sales
While using a standard form may add efficiency for readers, one size does not fit all. Consider how you’ll be using this dynamic document and who will be reviewing it. There are more details and endless examples online, such as this guide from the U.S. Small Business Administration, which will help you cater a business plan to your needs.
Creating a business plan is rarely a waste of time, but they do become a required asset when you’re raising financial capital. A few situations where you’ll likely need a business plan include grant applications, traditional bank loans, equity financing, and pitch competitions. Entrepreneurial support organizations (ESOs) may request a business plan to activate their services as well.
As you build a business plan, use a clarifying framework, concise content, and mark areas that may need to be frequently updated. This makes the document interesting, more digestible, and easier to maintain. Along with keeping this evolving asset fresh, consider how your business plan connects to support other emerging resources that collectively paint the picture of your company.
Stay tuned as we’ll look at one pagers, pitch decks, and investor memos next week, then explain how to weave everything into a forwardable investor pack as we conclude this month of themed tactics geared to keep your idea from slipping toward someday.