Every Business Idea Is Legitimate, Until This Happens

Don’t let startup traditionalists lead you down the wrong path

Joe Procopio

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Photo by Kenny Eliason on Unsplash

Don’t ever let anyone tell you your startup idea sucks. Go out and prove it sucks. Or better yet, go out and prove them wrong.

In 20+ years of founding, running, and advising startups, I’ve seen some pretty insane ideas become legitimate and successful companies. I’ve even helped a few of them get off the ground and over the finish line. I’ve made “crazy” a part of my sweat portfolio, and every so often I’ll take a risk on an insane idea that would make my colleagues laugh at me for getting involved.

Let them laugh. I taught computers how to write sports stories once. That idea made a lot of money for a lot of people.

Here’s where things get tricky though.

When a Legitimate Startup Idea Goes Bad

Over and over again, I’ll see a first time entrepreneur with an elegant but slightly insane idea fall into the trap of trying to get their business off the ground based on what they read and hear about how startups are supposed to be run.

When you’ve never started a company before, it feels bigger than it is. The general vibe around starting a business usually falls into two camps — either the Silicon-Valley-Stanford dorm room money-printer or the always-struggling-never-fulfilling brick-and-mortar.

The former seems like a yellow-brick-road path for the elite few. The latter isn’t something anybody really wants — at least anybody who has done it for a year or so.

So the aspiring entrepreneur will start going down rabbit holes seeking external legitimacy, spending months trying to land the wrong kind of funding or spending thousands on offshore development to build a fully working product that they don’t know anyone wants yet. Or they’ll latch on to some trend like crypto or NFTs or SPACs — maybe they’ll join a pay-to-play incubator or investment scheme, or they’ll Kickstart a product that winds up painfully underfunded because they never thought through the costs of creation and production.

Then what happens is all those potentially brilliant but now compromised ideas turn into copycat…

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Joe Procopio

I'm a multi-exit, multi-failure entrepreneur. NLG pioneer. Building TeachingStartup.com & GROWERS. Write at Inc.com and BuiltIn.com. More at joeprocopio.com