Why a brilliant business idea could turn out to be a doughnut

Genius and talent are to business what doughnuts and Chinese food are to hunger: Great at the time, but they won’t sustain you in the long term. There’s another vital ingredient, and it has nothing whatsoever to do with your brilliant idea. Stuart Pearcey explains…

American president Calvin Coolidge had such a reputation for saying very little that he earned the nickname ‘Silent Cal’.

Indeed, he is once said to have been seated at dinner alongside a lady who said to him: “Mr President, my friend bet me I wouldn’t be able to get you to say three words tonight.” His reply was to the point: “You lose,” was all he said.

Which makes it seem unlikely that he could have come up with a thought that anyone starting a business would do well to heed. It goes like this: “Nothing can take the place of persistence. Talent will not: nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not: the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.”

For my money a more likely candidate for having come up with such an insight is Ray Kroc, who took a tiny burger restaurant and turned it into McDonald’s, and to whom the quote is sometimes attributed.

Kroc is also supposed to have said: “The two most important requirements for major success are first, being in the right place at the right time; and then second, doing something about it.”

No guts, no glory
The theme is the same. Having an initial rush of enthusiasm or being presented with a wonderful opportunity are worth nothing if you haven’t got the guts or determination to see them through.

And that’s why having a brilliant startup idea isn’t worth much on its own. It has to be backed up by other skills. You’ll need marketing and money, premises and packaging, suppliers and customers. You’ll need to know how to write a business plan, how to secure finance, and how to live with failures – because you’re certain to have some of those along the way.

But if you believe in your idea, and others have looked at it, objectively, and believe in it enough too, then perhaps it’s worth the effort and the heartache you’ll have to put in to make it fly.

It can be done. No business began fully formed and profitable. And the other thing to remember is that you don’t have to do it all on your own. Gather people around you who can bring particular skills to the table. Don’t make them employees; pay them as freelancers or consultants, then you’ll be able to maximise their input at minimum cost.

 Watch the pennies
Control your finances, when you have some; use Solo Expenses personal use; we’ll show you the benefits and give it to you free here, and you can track every last penny for effective expense management. Remember, the only reason to start a business is to generate money. If it’s not doing that, then you don’t have a business; you have a charity. And if your money management is so poor that you don’t know what you’ve spent and what you’ve earned, you won’t be able to tell the difference.

I’ll leave you with this thought about success from someone who achieved it; boxer Jack Dempsey, who said: “A champion is someone who gets up when he can’t.” That’s the kind of spirit you’re going to have to show to be a success in business; to drag yourself out of bed day after day, when you have no shred of motivation, if you’re to turn your business idea from an idea into a business; your doughnut into a banquet.