The Words Get in the Way: Do your Thoughts Need Subtitles?

I had this amazing business idea for an online tool and a website.

It was so beautiful in my head - the functionality, the design, the value proposition - I could basically hear people banging on my door for access to it, and clogging up my servers to download it. Then I told people about it and my bubble burst.

Somehow my explanation didn't do justice to the amazing product I envisioned. That's ok, I thought, I'll draw it!

Then I wrote about it and drew prototypes - and it just wasn't what I had envisioned. It was close - but that grandeur wasn't there. Finally, I started building it. 6 Months later it was NO WHERE near the vision in my head, nor what I explained to people, nor what I had drawn. Yes, it was an #entrepreneurfail.

The Morals of this Story

Firstly, entrepreneurs must have a vision, but you have to build from the ground up. You have to create simple ideas in your head and then grow them into reality to eventually become that vision. That's why the idea of a minimally viable product (MVP) is so compelling. It forces you to remove all the bells and whistles and create a basic product to test all the consumption assumptions before wasting time.

As Tim Minchin attested in a recent graduation address:
"Just be aware that the next worthy pursuit will probably appear in your periphery. Which is why you should be careful of long-term dreams. If you focus too far in front of you, you won’t see the shiny thing out the corner of your eye."

The other moral of the story is that entrepreneurs often overlook the importance of crystal clear communication.  Each thought, word, piece of writing, sketch, bit of code, and prototype all must have cohesion, otherwise it is very confusing for potential customers.  The best way to ensure consistency is to simplify and focus your thoughts to one concept, shaving the unnecessary pieces, and then sharing that concisely.

Have you fallen into this trap? Do your words match your vision, or are you disappointed with the translation? Let us know about it in the comments below.

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