Most entrepreneurs I know are dreamers. They have big visions of what could be, and they aren’t held back by current realities. They may be brushed off as idealists or even a little crazy at times, but nothing world-changing ever happened because of people who think small. Part of being successful as an entrepreneur, though, is knowing when to bring others into your vision. As much as you might want your idea to remain pure and unchanged by input from other people, it’s unlikely you’ll be successful without help. Even if you were successful on your own, it wouldn’t have the chance to be as great as it could’ve been if you had involved others.
One of my friends, Jeremy Cowart, recently went through this process with a new venture of his called The Purpose Hotel. Jeremy’s a highly successful photographer, but he also uses his creative talent and visionary personality as an entrepreneur. In our interview for the Real Hope podcast, Jeremy shared a little bit about how The Purpose Hotel came to be.
“It was such a big idea, I was afraid of it for three years,” he tells me.
The idea was a for-profit, global hotel chain designed to fuel the work of nonprofits and change the world. How? By connecting every element of the hotel experience, from hotel room booking fees to the complimentary soaps, directly to supporting a nonprofit or initiative.
“The room sponsors a child, the soaps and furniture and blankets and everything are connected to nonprofits that make those items,” Jeremy says.
By purchasing items like this from nonprofits, donating wifi fees to fight human trafficking and sponsoring a child through Compassion for every room, The Purpose Hotel is putting this dream into action.
But Jeremy didn’t do it alone. Once he got the courage to share the idea with others, that’s when it really got started. In 2015 he brought the idea to his business manager, Michael Moore, and in 2016, they launched a Kickstarter campaign to get it off the ground. Now, plans are in place to construct the first Purpose Hotel location in Nashville — right across the street from the Nashville Rescue Mission, in fact!
The key to his success? Finding the right people.
Collaboration Turns Dreams into Reality
After three years of sitting on the idea, what Jeremy knew was that if his idea was going to go anywhere, he had to finally take the leap and share it with someone.
“As nerve-wracking as it might be, involving people in the development stage can be a huge benefit—both to you, and ultimately your idea,” writes Kat Boogaard for The Muse, a recruiting and career resource platform. “By gathering some varying opinions early on, you’ll be able to make adjustments that will make your idea seem even stronger when you bring it to decision-makers. Often, two brains (or three, or four) really are better than one.”
As most business and entrepreneurial experts will tell you, successful ideas take more than one person to execute. Not only is it a lot of work for one person to take on, but a diversity of opinions and perspectives is extremely valuable as you begin work on a new endeavor. Plus, everyone has different strengths and can bring those to the table, making your idea even better.
“Understanding and embracing the need to collaborate is so important that nearly all programs and courses that teach entrepreneurship include team-based project work,” writes Amy Rosen, partner at the Public Private Strategy Group, for Entrepreneur Magazine. “Business leaders, academics and researchers who study entrepreneurship recognize collaboration and information sharing as important as more obvious skills such as opportunity recognition and determination.”
It can be scary to allow others into your vision. There’s a fear of judgement — what if they think your idea is crazy? Or, there’s a fear of theft — what if they take credit for my idea? Or, yet another fear — what if they change my idea? It takes courage to speak your idea out loud, but it’s the only way to turn it into reality.
“Don’t be so proprietary about your ideas that you leave no room for the fingerprints of others,” says Andrew Bennett, CEO of Havas Creative Group. “Let your idea out into the light, even if that simply means presenting it to a colleague or three. No matter how terrific the idea, there is zero value to it until it’s shared.”
Start with just one person — someone you trust to give you honest feedback, but who will also carefully consider your idea without writing it off. Then, be sure to take their feedback into account.
What Kinds of People are the “Right” People?
Every business endeavor or organization initiative is different, so the “right” people for your support team (whether or not they are actually a part of your business) might not look the same as another. But in general, there are a few types of people that make up a well-rounded group, according to Entrepreneur Magazine:
- The mentor – someone who has been there before and can help guide your efforts
- The community maven – someone who knows your community well and has connections. If you’re going to be successful, you have to have community support, whether that’s within your industry or a customer base.
- Your peers – people who are on a similar journey as you to bounce ideas off and share common challenges
- Up-and-coming local talent – people out of college or new to the industry with fresh ideas and hardworking, positive attitudes
- The investor – someone willing to finance your idea
These may or may not be the exact descriptions of people you need on your payroll — or even simply supporting you outside your company — but they’re a good place to start. Everyone needs a bit of wisdom from a more experienced advisor, someone who is well connected, people who understand what it’s like to do what you’re doing, fresh ideas and of course, finances.
If you incorporate people who are hardworking, have positive attitudes, bring expertise to the table and are willing to dream with you, you’re off to a great start. Overall, it’s important to decide what kinds of people are important to making your idea work, and meet as many people as you can so that you can find the “right” ones for those roles.
Everyone has different gifts and talents. If you are willing to share just a little bit of the credit, you can reap great dividends by involving people who are better than you at specific things. After all, no one is great at everything. Delegating to people who have more experience, passion or skill in a certain area is nearly always going to be beneficial to the success of the overall idea.
As the Bible says in 1 Corinthians 12, God gave us each unique gifts and talents to use for His glory — none more valuable than another — and using them together for a common purpose is always more impactful than trying to go it alone.
If you’ve been sitting on a big idea, I hope you’ll consider taking the leap of sharing it with someone else today and letting others in on your vision. It just might change the world.
Check out my conversation with Jeremy on the latest episode of Real Hope to hear more about The Purpose Hotel and how he uses his talents in so many ways to bring hope to others.