Organize Your Ideas. Overcoming Obstacles. Bringing Your Concept To Market] ROBERT L. JOHNSON: The first thing is you have to congeal the idea in your mind that this thing works. [Robert L. Johnson, Co Founder. Black Entertainment Television, BET. Washington, DC] And what I usually do is I sort of just think about how it’ll all come together, almost like putting a puzzle together in your mind. You say, what do I need to do this? I need programming. I need distribution. ROBERT L. JOHNSON [continued]: I need content. I need capital. And you sort of put all those– at least what I do is I put all of those things in my mind, and then I start going through the Rolodex in my mind and say, OK, where will I get the capital? What’s the distribution platform I’m going to use? How do I get a hold of content? And once I’m clear in my mind that these things exist, ROBERT L. JOHNSON [continued]: I know that they’re out there, whether I have them or not, I know they’re out there. Then, the next thing is, you prioritize it. What’s the most important thing to do to use to start this thing? ERIC RYAN: My best quick tips for entrepreneurs is one, make sure your idea is really good. [Eric Ryan, Co Founder, Method, San Francisco] And what we did was, don’t ask your friends, because they’re going to tell you it’s good, no matter how crap it is, because they’re your friend. So you’ve got to get a panel of people together from a cross-section of experts who will give you real, honest feedback. So what we did was we brought the entire thing to life ERIC RYAN [continued]: as a concept book. We gave it to 30 people. And we didn’t tell them come back and tell us what’s good or not. We said come back and tell us why this idea is going to fail. Really shoot holes on it. And then, it’s their job to tell you why your idea is bad. After hearing that feedback, if you’re able to make corrections to anything that was shared, and you feel really good about it, then move forward. ERIC RYAN [continued]: And if you move forward, don’t quit. And I’ve heard that the biggest difference between successful entrepreneurs and failed ones are the failed ones just quit a little too soon. WARREN BROWN: When I started baking cakes, I used to bring them to places and share them with my friends. [Warren Brown, Owner, CakeLove and Love Care, Washington, DC] And one time when I brought them to a family reunion, I had to travel by plane to New York City, and I brought this cake that’s on a white plate underneath blue plastic Saran wrap. You couldn’t really see what was on the plate, but you could tell it was a baked good. WARREN BROWN [continued]: And all the people that I was passing along the way kept on saying, oh, is that cake for me? Oh, I want some. Let me have some of that. And hey, is it my birthday? Is it my birthday? You know, share it with me. Share it with me. Over, and over, and over again. In DC, and when I got to New York, same kind of thing. And I’m waiting by curbside to get picked up, and I realized like, you know? This cake is just a magnet. WARREN BROWN [continued]: People are drawn into it. And I said to myself, like, if I can keep making that, people will keep coming. So let me just make cake, and everything else, hopefully, will sort itself out.
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