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Why is sharing ideas so scary?

A (not so) big reveal

· Entrepreneurship,fear,Sharing

This article was originally posted on my blog Wantrepreneur on 1 September, 2016

OK, so I know I’ve been a bit cagey on this blog about the project I’m working on. I originally started writing here with the intention of focusing solely on the experience of starting a business, without wanting to be too specific about what the business was. At least, that’s how I justified keeping talk of my project out of my blog. If I’m honest, it also had more than a little to do with the fact that I was unsure and perhaps a little bit embarrassed to share my idea.

Anyway, by this point, a few people have very kindly pointed out that they like my blog and would like to know more about what I’m actually spending my time working on, so I think it’s probably about time to share.

In addition, I’ve now gone further down the path of committing to my idea, which means I’m sharing ideas and plans on a daily basis with suppliers, partners and subject matter experts, and none of them have laughed me out of the room (yet), so now feels like the right time to bring the two worlds together.

FANFARE!

OK, let’s get straight to the point.

<Drumroll please.>

  • My company is called Wizzbox.
  • <Fanfare.>
  • This is the website: www.wizzbox.co.uk.
  • <Fanfare.>
  • ‘What is it?’ I hear you ask: a Wizzbox is a natural grass pet toilet. It’s ideal for busy pet owners, owners with limited or no outdoor space, anyone house training a pet, and owners and/or pets with limited mobility. They’re delivered on subscription or one-off basis.

<Big fanfare please.>

I’ve been working on Wizzbox in my spare time between January and July 2016, and full time since then.

Wizzbox's first ever homepage.

So why the hesitation?

So why was I reluctant to share this news? Well, in all honesty, I did want to keep this blog and Wizzbox separate so that I could talk about the trials and tribulations of starting a business from scratch from a neutral position. I didn't want people to judge my blog at Wantrepreneur2entrepreneur on the basis of what they thought they knew about Wizzbox, or what they presumed my level of ambition for Wizzbox to be.

In parallel to this, for the first few months of Wizzbox, I was also going through a process otherwise known as ‘Getting comfortable with being 60% comfortable with an idea’, a.k.a. hesitation and resistance. Here are a few things things that added to my hesitation in sharing news of my business:

  • Commitment to the idea I was concerned about sharing my idea because primarily because, first of all, I wasn’t 100% committed to it.
  • Fear of what people would think of it This one was the biggie. Wizzbox is a kind of off-the-wall idea, and I was afraid of what my family, my colleagues at work (remember, I was still working full time), my friends, my peers at Escape the City's Startup Tribe, and what complete strangers would think. In fact, I was pretty much just a bundle of fear for most of the time between January and June 2016. See this blog post on all the things I felt were potential blockers.
  • I want to change the world OK that sounds pretty grandiose, but the crux of it is that I was initially snobby about the idea of Wizzbox. I’ve always worked on things that are intellectually challenging, that improve education, are pretty high brow, and in my view, make the world a slightly better place. When I first starting thinking about Wizzbox, I viewed it as no more than a pet toilet, something mundane and practical – not my usual area of interest. It was only when I started to think about the benefits to society and individuals, and how beneficial I have found pet ownership in my own life, that I started to feel there was more to it than a purely practical application.
  • I haven't worked in the pet industry And I don’t like the way a lot of pet products are marketed. Marketing is outdated, digital transformation is not done well. If I was going to do something, I would want to use the most up-to-date marketing approaches and most customer-friendly technology. I wasn’t sure whether that was something that would strike a chord with pet owners.
  • I need expertise Creation of Wizzboxes requires expertise in areas I had no knowledge or contacts. I would have to learn a lot, in a lot of detail, fast, or find experts who could help me (if they didn't laugh in my face).
  • I don’t know whether people will want to buy my product or if I can ever make the business profitable What if nobody wants the products I create? Wizzbox is a great concept, but will anyone actually pay for it in reality? I would – but am I an outlier? Can I make this business work?

What made me change my mind about sharing?

In April 2016 I decided to leave my full time job to do something different. That's when I started this blog, and as part of the process, I enrolled myself in Escape the City’s Startup Tribe (as I’ve shared many times before in other posts on this blog). Doing this helped me to see past my fears and just get on and do. Some of the realizations I had whilst participating in the Startup Tribe were as follows:

  • Stop thinking, start doing One of the first weekend sessions of the Startup Tribe encouraged us all to have a ‘one night stand’ with an idea. By that, it meant we would commit fully to an idea just for a few hours, with no expectation that we would take it any further after that point. I had a few ideas I was interested in experimenting with, including Wizzbox; but wasn't fully committed to any of them, and was more than happy to try any of them out. However, something drew me towards Wizzbox above all the rest.
  • Do what excites you For me, being around animals is one of the best things in life. Some of my favourite moments in life have been shared with pets: dogs, guinea pigs and horses. If you aren’t someone who has spent a lot of time around animals, or someone who feels instinctively drawn to them, you may not understand how important this can be, and what a huge impact it can have on someone’s life. You know what: that’s just fine! We all care about different things, and that’s what makes us great. A pet toilet may not be the most glamorous thing in the world, but the prospect of working with animals and people who love animals really excites me, and if what I'm doing means that more people can experience the joy of pet ownership, that’s good enough motivation for me.
  • I can build this company around my own values Things that I believe in and values I genuinely believe in; I can work with people I trust and believe in, and with whom I can build respectful and productive relationships.
  • I am endlessly fascinated by innovation I always want to be working on new things, bringing new ideas, concepts and products to market, and to delight customers. In the past, I have found myself trapped in corporate environments, full of good ideas, and not able to implement them. I’m so excited to have an innovative idea that I can focus on full time and actually do something about. 
  • Talk to potential customers I no longer wonder whether anyone will like the product; I go out and find out. I talk to potential customers and get their honest, uncensored feedback. I don't know whether I can create the product and make this into a viable business, but I'm not going to find out just by thinking about it. Let's get on and do this. That's the only way I can find out if it's a goer.
  • Be versatile I also realized that I didn’t need to fall in love with an idea to pursue it, or for it to be valuable to me (and I don’t mean financially here). There are aspects of Wizzbox that love, but there are also areas that I just don’t know enough about. In fact, not being in love with an idea is probably an asset, as it means you’re more able to walk away from an idea quickly if you discover it isn’t a viable business.
  • I SHOULD be doing things differently The pet industry is growing. In fact, it’s booming, and outdated marketing approaches and corporations will need to change to keep up. We’re already seeing disruption in the industry with brands such as Lilly’s Kitchen, Pitpatpet and PetTech, as well as other numerous Kickstarter campaigns aimed at pet owners and their high tech hounds. We will continue to see significant innovation for the foreseeable future, and the industry will only expand in the short term. People are looking for products to solve their everyday pet problems, just as they're looking to services like Amazon, Airbnb, Uber and Hello Fresh to make their own lives more comfortable.

#shamelessplug

Of course, Wizzbox isn’t going to be for everyone who reads this blog, but for people like me who live and work in London, and who genuinely feel that there’s a pet-shaped hole in their lives, this product could be transformational. If it means that I could be a step closer to having a dog around, that’s the kind of justification I need.

Now, I’m well aware that Wizzbox audience is niche, so don’t worry, I’m not going to use this blog to keep you up-to-date on progress with Wizzbox, but I will probably refer to it from time to time in my posts and at significant milestones. If you want to learn more about how I'm getting on with Wizzbox, you can sign up for our newsletter on the Wizzbox website (plus all kinds of exciting discounts and offers). Or check out our Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.

Conclusion

Well, that wasn’t as bad as all that.

Once again, the main reason I’m sharing this is because I want other people who are going through a similar experience to be able to read about the small steps I’m taking, why I find them hard, and to be able to identify with them. Most of the time, articles about entrepreneurship are written by people who are proven or successful entrepreneurs, and they already know which bits they don't need to obsess over. Experience makes it easy to gloss over the challenges because you're used to dealing with them. I really hope that, by sharing my experiences, my mistakes, and small steps, I give hope, reassurance, and confidence to others to be able to start their own business.

If you like this post, you can see more of what I write right here on Wantrepreneur2entrepreneur. The articles here document my journey from corporate escapee to wannabe entrepreneur: all the highs, all the lows, and everything in between. It's a work in progress and I'd love to hear what you think, so drop me a line at clairedransom@gmail.com, or on Facebook or Twitter.

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