Hopefully I’m not dating myself with this reference, but do you remember the classic baseball movie Field of Dreams? Even if you’ve never seen the film, you’ve probably heard the movie’s most famous, most quoted line: “If you build it, they will come.”
This is a line that many entrepreneurs have adopted as a kind of a mantra. They commit themselves, emotionally and financially, to erecting a company. They go “all in,” even early in the process—long before they really know if there is an audience out there for what they are trying to do; long before they know whether what they’re proposing could truly work.
What I want to propose is a paradigm shift—a complete 180 from the Field of Dreams mentality. The mantra I recommend to entrepreneurs is this: If they come, I will build it.
What I’m suggesting here is that you don’t commit to some new endeavor and hope people show up. Instead, test it. Try it out. Find the least committal way you can of dipping your toe in the waters, and just see what happens. If you find there’s not much interest in what you’re trying to do, well, no harm no foul. You’ve saved yourself a great deal of financial and emotional distress. And if there is interest, then you move forward with it—armed with greater confidence than you could possibly have otherwise.
This should come as good news: As an entrepreneur, you don’t have to leave yourself without a safety net. You don’t have to put your money and your emotions on the line over something that may or may not work. You have the liberty to formulate a hypothesis, then find the cheapest possible way to test-drive it (while still remaining professional, of course).
Rather than investing in infrastructure and supplier relationships early on, you can use the myriad resources that the Internet affords you to try partnering with other companies, perhaps testing your ideas on a smaller scale or with some of the risk diffused.
The point is: There is pretty much always a creative way to test something without needing to fully commit to it. That’s the smart way to try new ideas and potentially grow your business.