It’s your business: Are you willing to take a risk?

“Forget it, Louis. No Civil War picture ever made a nickel.”

Or, how about this comment a professor made to a student whose essay detailed his idea for an overnight delivery service:

“…the concept is interesting but in order to earn more than a “C” your idea also has to be feasible.”

The first quote was said by Irving Thalberg to Louis B. Mayer, when Mayer was backing a movie based on a book by Margaret Mitchell. He was talking, of course, about the idea for the classic film “Gone With the Wind.”

The second quote was directed to Fred Smith, the founder of FedEx.

History is filled with misguided comments such as these. But the lesson here is that if you believe strongly in an idea and are willing to take a risk, it just might prove to be a billion dollar idea.

While many ideas today are subject to reams of data and columns of analytics, entrepreneurs must also have the understanding that even if the idea does not come to fruition this time, with perseverance and belief in your idea there is always the next time.

Writers know this well. For example, J.K Rowling’s first novel about a boy wizard named Harry Potter was rejected by 12 publishers before a small publishing house finally picked it up. We all know what happened next.

That’s an extreme example perhaps, but the point is that you can’t succeed if you don’t go out on a limb or take a chance on a creative opportunity that may come your way.

As Apple founder Steve Jobs put it, “creativity is just connecting things.”

So how might you start thinking differently, or about partnering up with a like-minded associate to connect your product or service to help solve a different problem or need?

Sometimes all you have to do is improve on a product or idea that already exists. Thomas Edison didn’t invent the light bulb. The first electric light had actually been developed 78 years earlier by Humphry Davy.

However, it was an arc-lamp that didn’t last long and was far too bright. In 1850, Joseph Swan used a different filament — carbonized paper — but that wasn’t efficient or long lasting either. Swann eventually merged his company with Edison. Together they found better materials and were able to market their new and improved design successfully.

Taking risks, improving on ideas, looking for new opportunities or finding a suitable partner still play a major role in how businesses are run today. As we approach the end of 2017, now might be a good time to take that one big idea off the shelf and push it forward with commitment and perseverance.

Joe Smith is a communications consultant and an accomplished fine artist. He can be reached via email at joesmith@shaw.ca

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