That’s Never Going to Work

In 1880, Thomas Edison introduced his light bulb as a way to light office buildings.

One hundred years later, in 1980, Ted Turner launched CNN.

Both entrepreneurs launched to the same sound, specifically critics saying “it’s never going to work.”

Critics told Edison that offices didn’t need light bulbs and switches, and that they were fine with lamps and candles.

And to Turner critics said “who would possibly watch or need news 24 hours a day?”

Yet, both entrepreneurs achieved extreme levels of success.

So, how can you overcome all the naysayers? All the folks who are telling you that your idea or company is never going to work?

Here are my favorite ways:

1) Show how you fit in. Show how your solution “fits” into the days and lives of the customers you are serving. YouTube, for example, could have said that its customers are already spending a lot of time online, making video consumption online more accessible/convenient for them.

2) Leverage the success of other companies. By saying “we are like [insert well-known company] but we’re different because [insert why you are different],” you leverage already established credibility. This makes it hard for naysayers to deny your potential.

3) Simply cite other success stories like Edison and Turner and how their naysayers were proved wrong. Explain how it’s easy to see how naysayers were critical at the time, but looking back, those innovations clearly made a lot of sense. Ask the naysayer to pretend they are in the future looking back, and to view your company from that perspective.

4) Plan out your venture. Your ability to complete your business plan and show others a clear, comprehensive growth roadmap will squash many of their doubts. It’s much easier to poke holes in a concept. But when that concept has been converted into a plan, it gains massive credibility.

5) Gain social proof. Once you have a lot of people who believe in your vision, it’s easier to get more people to believe. By getting advisors, beta customers, contingent employees, etc., or even just fans on your Facebook page, you create social proof. You can show that others already believe in your vision. Few people want to be the first to like or support something since they risk failure and looking foolish. It’s always much easier for naysayers to support a cause that they see lots of others supporting.

Everyone loves to look back and say that they supported and/or knew about a now-successful company in its infancy. But the reality is that during the early days, there are much fewer supporters. So use the five techniques above to turn naysayers into supporters, and grow a successful business.

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