Why the “Aha Moment” in Entrepreneurship May be Overrated and What to Look for Instead
If you spend any time at all reading about or researching entrepreneurs you will very soon come across people discussing the “Aha! moment”.
This is usually synonymous visually with the light bulb going off over someone’s head (do a google image search for good idea and see what happens). In person it’s a look on your face that’s a cross between accidentally stepping in a big puddle and finding out you just got first prize.
This is a completely legitimate moment and one that many entrepreneurs are familiar with and can readily identify as happening in their own business journey.
The problem I see is that what many new or aspiring entrepreneurs don’t realize is that this is neither a requirement for success nor a sign of a really good business idea. If you think you need to have this kind of moment and you are disappointed it hasn’t happened yet, fear not.
You Don’t Need to Break the Mold
The problem with the Aha moment is that it is not a fully formed idea. It may not even be half an idea. It’s just the shock and surprise you get when you think you’ve just discovered a gap in that market that you can fill in a financially rewarding way.
But that gap may be more your imagination than reality or it may already be full up and you just aren’t aware of it. Or there may be a good reason no one is filling it.
The reality is most successful businesses are just slight derivations or no derivation at all from existing businesses. There is no Aha moment when someone decides to open another auto repair shop or medical billing business, but that doesn’t mean these can’t be really prosperous businesses.
The successful businesses that do break the mold are usually the result of numerous pivots from whatever the original idea was after it ran into the brick wall known as reality.
And even those aren’t that different.
People make money writing books about Blue Ocean strategies and Zero to One concepts that suggest entrepreneurs should be way outside of the box when they launch their businesses. But there are very, very few businesses that meet those criteria and if you are waiting around for the inspiration required to be one of those you may never get off the ground.
On the other hand, if you start something similar to what other people are doing, but you can do it a little better in a lot of small ways, or a lot better in one important way, you can prosper immediately.
The Real Aha Moment
I think the real Aha moment is when you discover that you can be successful in any number of ventures and none of them have to be earth shatteringly unique or different to succeed. In fact, you are much more likely to be successful by starting something in a field you already know well and figuring out how to do it better than the competition.
The real A Ha moment is when you make your first sale, and the idea becomes a reality. That’s the proof that you can actually do it instead of just talking about it or having ideas.
If you have a sudden lightning bolt of inspiration by all means look into it and see if it’s something that is viable and you can build a business around.
But if you haven’t had a revelation yet and you were waiting for one or thought you needed one to be able to get started, stop right there. Readjust your thinking.
The big idea entrepreneur is mostly a myth. Just start with what you know and can do well and look for a way to build a business around that you can enjoy starting and building. Then start. Period. You see what I’m saying? Aha!