IDEAS

Creators: When Is it Time to Act on a New Venture?

Jonathan Malm
Owner of Church Stage Design Ideas + Sunday Social.

Published 03/12/18

I was born to be an entrepreneur. My first endeavor began in elementary when my family was missionaries in Guatemala. Each time we returned to the U.S., I sold Guatemalan coins to my friends. “Want five centavos? That’ll be twenty-five cents.”

That five centavo piece from Guatemala was worth about one penny. So I made a pretty good profit margin.

Then I sold my first company at the age of fourteen — clipartcenter.com — for $500. In hindsight, I realize the purchaser just wanted the domain name and not the sweet website I designed for it. It didn’t matter, though. I made enough money to make some upgrades to my computer.

Fast-forward a few years, and I’m still starting new businesses, selling others, and just abandoning ideas. Some would say I have a hard time focusing on only one thing. But really, I just see so many opportunities everywhere, and I want to jump on as many as I can.

One question I wrestle with is this:How do I know if I should seize an opportunity or just move along?

Most entrepreneurs face that same question every day.

I feel like, over the years, I’ve come to a healthy place when it comes to opportunities. I’m now quickly willing to say no to the wrong prospects. In turn, this gives me more energy to pursue the right ones. Over time, I’ve discovered a few factors that help me decide whether or not I should embrace a new idea.

The three factors I like to consider when it comes to any new idea you have for a business, side hustle, or project are:

1. Your strengths
2. The opportunity
3. Your passions

When all three factors are in proper alignment, you can feel confident moving forward with a new idea. It doesn’t guarantee you success — there’s never a guarantee of that — but it’ll set you up to be in the best position for success.

 

1. Your Strengths

 

What are you good at doing? What do others say you’re good at doing? Does this new idea fit your natural strength?These questions are a good start.

But let’s take this strength of yours a step further. I’m not just asking about whether or not you’re good at photography or design or writing. Instead, I want to know what makes you uniquely you. Do you have a unique perspective on photography, design, or writing? Do you have experiences nobody else has that will distinguish you? If so, that’s an even better start.

 

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2. The Opportunity

 

Opportunity is a combination of idea, need, timing, and your strengths.

Is there a need for your idea? And do people acknowledge this need?Historical Christian alien fiction is a unique idea. But if people aren’t particularly intrigued by the idea of Jesus meeting an alien, it might not be a great idea. That isn’t to say it will never be a good idea. One day, a news story could come out that suddenly sparks interest for such things. And if you’re the person who has a unique perspective on this idea, it might just be time to jump on the opportunity.

 

3. Your Passions

 

Finally, will this idea get you excited about working on it?Just because the timing’s right, the opportunity is there, and you’d be great at it doesn’t mean you need to do it.

A few years ago, I had an idea to start a roast-your-own-coffee storefront. I love coffee. And I love sharing coffee culture with people who don’t know what’s possible with a freshly roasted bean and precise brewing. It was a fantastic idea. But it wasn’t for me.

It wasn’t for me because I don’t get excited about going to the same location every day and doing the same thing. I need variety. So a storefront would never be a great idea for me. I had to say no to the idea. (FYI, I’m still hoping someone acts on this idea. If it’s right for you, reach out to me; I’d love to brainstorm it with you.)

God uniquely wired you. Find something that fits within that wiring.

 

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Closing Thoughts

 

If you can get those three factors to come together, you just might have a great idea. Act on it. Just be willing to be flexible. Attack it with bursts of energy and then re-evaluate. Pivot quickly. Be prepared to rethink significant portions of your idea when you see things aren’t working. Often, the seed idea that got you started won’t look anything like the finished product. That’s okay.

Finally, re-evaluate your three factors constantly. If you find the opportunity is no longer there, or you aren’t active in a particular area, or your passions are dying, it might be time to move on. Work hard on your idea. Put all your energy into it. But realize not every plan works out, and that’s okay. The important thing is that you take the risk and try it.

 

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Jonathan Malm

Jonathan runs ChurchStageDesignIdeas.com and speaks to churches all over the world about creativity. He is the author of “The Hidden Option,“ a book that helps believers find God’s creativity in impossible situations.

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