The high you can get off letting on your own ideas flow is like champagne… I fell completely in love with an art-based concept. It seemed to take on a life of its own by the hour!
It started with a thought: wouldn’t it be interesting to see feelings (like anger or serenity) be represented in a painting. Surely a series of these by one artist would get attention. There was something there.
What about if set titles were created and artists were asked to paint to those? Each title could start with the phrase “How it feels when….” and end with a description of situations that everyone can identify with, like “… you come home to a clean and tidy house”. The titles could also be about global issues: “… you hear that 50 people have been murdered in a New Orleans nightclub”, for example. What would the different interpretations look like?
I imagined all of those artists out there, craving exposure. Then I saw the mass of social channels, being driven by pictures. Artists could upload for free. People could share their favourites, they could ‘like’ the one they like the most. The works could be judged in categories, and the whole thing could culminate in a huge auction, with a percentage of sales going to charity…
“How it feels when…” as a whole brand grew in my fascinated mind. Simultaneously, two different, more practical business ideas: 1) to provide a one-stop house repair and maintenance service, and 2) to help Middle Managers with their communication challenges – an area I know well.
Strikingly, the idea I gave most attention to grew the most. It was difficult to focus on idea number 2 and almost impossible to get behind number 3 at any one time.
Apparently, successful entrepreneurs fail 13 times before they succeed. But here’s the question: is that because you need to be a bit crazy to come up with the ‘new’ ideas that do work, or is it because you get better at sensing where the real markets are as you go on?
Consulting my long-time and much-admired friend and coach, Lucy Armstrong of The Alchemists in the UK, I laid out the two hottest concepts. Oxford philosophy graduate and small-business growth guru, she’s great at cutting right through dilemmas and options that some people can’t even consciously identify.
“The One-Stop idea seems scalable. Sounds interesting. You’d need to test that – ask some likely customers what they’d buy.” A pause. “The art brokering won’t work. People can get tons of images online for free, there are masses of art websites already. I can’t see why it would get interest.”
I was crushed. My favourite idea hadn’t got the thumbs up and I couldn’t imagine working on it without Lucy’s endorsement. After half a day of thinking “She doesn’t understand it, I didn’t explain it properly, it could be different…” I changed my position to neutral and listed the deep concerns I’d been burying under the enthusiasm based on her feedback to see if there was a way around them. Resulting insight = people would be happy to ‘like’ art choices presented to them but would not be likely to share them. A sad reality but one that I knew it was ringingly true.
DONG. The death bell chimes. It’s as simple as that. One insight. Not workable.
The next day, I had a funeral for “How it feels when”. I had a drink, wasted some time and mourned my fictional loss. Then it was another day and now we’re down to two.
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