Recently, I was interviewed by an international MBA student.  I hope you enjoy my little pieces of nano insights about entre-, intra-, solo-  cross-, … preneurship.

Make ideas fail

I tried to innovate since I graduated from college. My first real business idea was selling medical books to doctors and patients. This was before Amazon. While the survey we had conducted had fantastic positive responses, the “problem” we had set out to solve, wasn’t there, and we failed miserably.

Today, I see and hear about many business ideas that sound intriguing. But actually, a very small percentage of these ideas – even when well thought trough and presented, for example with a business model canvas – go as planned. It’s when the implementation starts, things change. For me ideas are worth nothing. Let me repeat: Ideas are worth nothing. Ideas don´t have any value, if they are simply on paper or in someone’s head. They only start being interesting, important, and valuable when the insights gained through the idea help people solve problems or achieve their vision.

Only insights drive innovation, not ideas. A failed idea is insight. Make your ideas turn into insights. Fail, learn and create insights. Only through new, valuable and impactful insights you are able to drive innovation. Embrace this approach and welcome failed ideas as insights and start creating impact from insight.

I have been asked this question many times: How often did you fail? You now know my answer.

Learn to learn

We all start out with a glimpse of an insight or a solution we are convinced will solve somebody’s problem. Or maybe even a hint of a real earth shattering revelation that will create a yet unknown need. We then start to think and detail the ‘what’ while planning the ‘how’. We declare a plan with objectives and key results. And then work more or less meticulously to make them happen. But they are almost certainly not happening as planned. As if there is a certain law – maybe another variation of one of Murphy’s laws – that by purely stating an objective it is not going to happen as planned.

Don’t get discouraged. Open your eyes to what is really important about preneurship: The process of learning and gaining insights. Just think of the objectives you declare at the beginning as fuzzy or opaque and your job is to find ways to make make them a little bit clearer with every step. Like an optometrist asks you better or worse? every time she is switching a lens in front of your eyes to sharpen your eyesight. Based on your answers any knowledgeable and experienced optometrist will reduce the next set of lenses and radically adapt the combination of options that create real improvement. Learn to learn and reduce or change the available options with every step.

Preneurship is only partly about how to realise a certain objective, which is by definition wrong anyway. It is about making your ideas fail to continuously learn and getting smart about choosing the paths to achieve your vision. Try it out. One insight will lead to the next, creating your own very unique chain of insights that will sharpen your vision on your way to become a successful preneur – someone who achieves real meaningful impact.