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Anyone is liable to be mesmerized by their own ideas, and that’s absolutely understandable. But everyone also has off days, and not every idea is a masterpiece that emerges fully formed. Tom and Tracy Hazzard chat about what is commonly known as “shiny object syndrome.” You can’t be enamored by every single one of your ideas because you won’t be able to give your attention to the ideas that actually deserve it. Let Tom and Tracy take you through the process of whittling down your laundry list of ideas to include only the best.
Listen to the podcast here:
Discarding 3D Print Ideas
Discarding 3D print ideas can be difficult to discern, whether it be 3D designs or 3D business ideas. How to avoid “shiny object syndrome” and keep your business balanced between all the different ideas and how to know which idea to follow through on and which to discard and move away from is the subject for this Back to Business Monday.
A lot of business entrepreneurs have what we call “shiny object” syndrome. It’s like saying, don’t be enamored with all your ideas. They go from one shiny object to another. We were guilty of this early on our career. But we have the opposite problem with a lot of our inventors. We have a lot of entrepreneurs and investors that we give a lot of talks to and we have different profile people in each world. We have entrepreneurs who are always like, “Today the hot idea is to be a podcaster and tomorrow the hot idea is to do live stream videos.” They move from one thing to the other. They are constantly changing what “it” is which is a reason why they are not making any traction, going all in, and focusing. But our inventors have the opposite problem. They latch on to an idea and they don’t let go of it fast enough.
Discarding 3D print ideas is something we do all the time. We obviously have a good one-foot niche world. We have balance that way and that’s also because there are two of us so we balance each other out there. But the idea being that, it is okay to have a lot of ideas. We have 10-20 a day. We have many ideas and that’s the funny thing. Investors come to us with an idea, not a design, not an invention but with an idea. They think that they have something. They would ask if we would like to work on it license it from them. We would say that they don’t have anything to license since it is just an idea. Nobody is going to put money into developing a product out of an idea that is yours and you are expecting to get paid on. It is scary. But the reality of it, for a lot of them, is that they latch on that idea and they would not let go. It is their baby and it is important to them so they would keep on going on with it. They keep doing a little bit of work on it over a long period of time and not actually investing enough of what they need to make it all the way. But also they sometimes invest too much. Too much time. Too much effort. Too much energy. Too much money. Into taking it too far before they finally recognize that it is a bad idea.
What we want to talk about is that idea of having to discard some of these ideas, and discarding 3D print ideas is not always easy. It is not the end of the world if you say, that’s you say, “Hey that was a really good and sound idea but I did a little bit of screening and a bit of testing to find out that maybe not so much.” That’s is okay. We have constant ideas and what we do is we think of it like this: it was a litmus test. If we are still excited about the idea after a week, then it might make it to the next level of consideration. We do more research. We ask ourselves if other people have these ideas out there. We are shocked all the time when we talk to people and we say that we have heard of that before, and ask if they Googled it. They have not even gone out there to see. They are like, I have not seen it so it does not exist. That is not the case. It exists out there, trust us. That’s the problem. People come and say that they have never seen that before. How hard did you really look? You have to do a thorough search to really have confidence. Even if you have done that maybe somebody else came up with a similar idea at a similar time and is developing it in a parallel path.
Here’s the thing, let us use this as an example, we came up with a cool idea for podcasting and what we want to do with it. It is for how we are going to handle advertisements for our podcast in the future. We invented something along the lines of it. It is a really cool idea. Is it the only idea out there? No. There is a lot of other people inventing in this space right now or innovating in this space, building companies around it and doing things like that. But it met our criteria of a fact that there are other people working in the space so it is a good find that it is in a highly valuable market right now. Do we still think that our product is better? Yes. We got it to the next stage realizing that we have something unusual. Do we do it further? Yes. We did a patent search and we filed a patent. So we know that nothing exist like it in this moment. It does not mean that it won’t happen. It does not mean that the patent will issue. It does not even mean that somebody else might have filed a patent for a similar thing a couple months before us and we won’t know that for a year and a half. But that does not mean that it is not worth trying to get our idea to go to the next level.
That’s what I mean by not discarding this one yet. We keep going on that. Then a week ago we went and met someone out there who’s doing something like extremely similar thing but it could be from a different angle. We still believe that our angle, even though the idea might be similar and how it operates, the angle that we are taking it on is going to be more successful. We think that we are going to appeal to a lot more of the smaller to midsize podcasters instead of these gigantic and big corporations. We think that you listeners out there, correct us if we are wrong, can only take so many cereals on your podcast list and those type of highly produced entertainment shows as podcasts. You also want to learn something from somebody interesting. You want to go through the discovery process and you don’t want it to be coming always from a commercial organization.
There is a lot of these financial podcasts popping up and they are all owned by the banks and all these companies. They push them out and make them sound like they’re shows but they are just glorified investment commercial. I think that you know the difference after you listen to a few episodes. Our personal opinion is that there are a lot of places for people like us, who started this out as a hobby and discovered that there is really something here. We want to keep going since it is interesting, it is helping my business, and it is doing a marketing effort as well as doing some good. We think there are a lot of people out there who might be wanting to start a podcast that way. In that case we said okay, there’s still a market for what we want, there’s still an interest there, let’s go further. We are continuing on this path of what we are doing. So we have not discarded the idea yet. Does that mean that we have not discarded a hundred of ideas along the way? It might have been like, let’s make a podcast equipment kit. No, we discarded that idea and said that it is not a good time and too capital intensive. Why would we do that? I don’t think that there are enough podcasters out there starting every day for it to be viable for us to invest on that. So we put it in a discard pile. That’s what we think of it, a discard pile.
Sometimes your market conditions, your actual business conditions of what kind of business you have, of how many customers you have. Something might change and all of the sudden there are enough customers who might buy that item, that product, that kit, or whatever that might be. You can pick that up from the discard pile and take advantage of it when the time is right and when the conditions are more favorable for success on that.
That’s how we want you to think of your ideas. If you are afraid to give up your ideas and be discarding 3D print ideas, think about it as just discarding temporarily. Putting it in a discard pile, knowing that it is going to be reshuffled, some point it might rise at the top again, and it will be the perfect one at hand. We have ideas that we let go for years. Things that were not fully baked or things that were fully baked but there wasn’t an appropriate manufacturer or that the technology was not quite right. There could be many reasons. Some ideas are great ideas but you have to focus your entire life and all your passion behind it to make that one come into reality. Do you want to do that? Is that idea that good, that important, that you want to build a company around it or at least focus your entire efforts and career around it for a period of time? Some ideas are worth doing that and others are not and you should be discarding 3D print ideas like that.
We do it this way, we both have sketchbooks or notebooks. Tracy has more words than pictures in her notebook. Tom usually has more sketches. It is the way that we work. But if you find yourself doodling the same design idea again and again, you are like I can’t let this one go. There is something about it and I have it to further along. I am continually thinking about it. Subconsciously I am still doodling about it, making notes about it, or other ideas coming into my mind. Then this one is worth continuing forward. You can put more effort into figuring out if this one is worth it or what we try to do is figure out what the criteria might be to decide if it is worth it and go forward. That’s one way how we do it. The other way is that we leave it out to the universe, to chance and see if our passion for it increases or if I am in a discussion and somebody brings it up. It happened today, somebody crossed our path and it made something more viable that wasn’t as viable as an idea a week ago. It just so happens that they came across our feed and said that they could use it. All of the sudden the pieces started clicking in place.
That’s why a complete discarding 3D print ideas mind set does not work. You just put it in a backburner and setting it aside. You are not completely shredding it. I usually like it when you have some vision for an opportunity, need, or point and you challenge me because you can’t see how to do it necessarily. You challenge me with a, “hey Tom what if we do this or any way you think of how we can do that?” I have that in the back of my mind and I think about it. That happened with one of our first companies in the later ‘90s. You challenged me with something and it was, I think 6-9 months went by when you first challenged me. We lived in Michigan at first and then we lived in Rhode Island by the time I came up with the idea to solve the problem. I was riding a train from New York City to Providence, Rhode Island, sketching and had that “aha” moment. The solution finally gelled in my sub-conscious mind. Conscious enough that I was able to articulate and sketch it in my drawing. That became the seed for what became a company for the next five years that we owned, operated, grew, and developed several products. We eventually sold the actual property and went on to develop other things. But it was a serious path and we talked earlier about the passion and this is where we are tying this in. We were very passionate about that product and decided that this is cool and worth doing. It fit so many criteria. The product was not very big so it would not cost a lot to ship or manufacture. There were many things that were low risk about it, we thought at that time. The ignorance when going into it is better. That always helps.
We were younger and more naïve and had less experiences. We don’t have as many filters as we do today. Our criteria levels are higher today. But the whole idea is that your passion about a product increases and you find the time to do it. You find the time to work on your 3D print design. You find time to make it happen because all of the sudden you are more passionate about it than you were before. But if it something that you are not just making progress on, had seen some investors working on this same idea for ten years, and it has not really made enough progress in that time frame, it’s all on them because they did not increase their passion for it and they did discarding 3D print ideas early enough in the process. You are distracting yourself from doing other great ideas. There is going to be another great idea tomorrow. Trust us. As human beings, we are really adept at getting ideas. But getting a good one, that’s harder. Or validating it and taking it from that idea and putting it into action, that’s the hard part.
Final Thoughts on Discarding 3D Print Ideas
This is not the main point for today, which is discarding 3D print ideas, but the reality is if you don’t have the passion to execute the project, be the primary force driver behind it, put the lion share of the effort into it, and prove it out with at least a certain level of some sales, of some marketability, and show some success, it would be very hard for you to convince someone else to put that kind of effort to make it happen. You have to get to certain point of proof in order for it to move forward. That’s is the biggest issue that we see with the inventors that come to us. They think that they have a great idea and they want someone else to do all the work which is not going to happen. Know-how is hard. Moving something much further along so that you can prove that it has legs and achieve some of those sales, that’s going to be the difference. That’s the challenge.
We just want you guys to stop taking your ideas preciously or do the opposite and treat them so casually. Start to look for those opportunities. Pick up an idea and move forward with it. Turn it to something great. Or be discarding 3D print ideas and wait for it to come back up when it’s time and move on to something else. You have to have something of both, a balance, where you want to go. Or maybe you need someone to tell you that it is bad idea and you need to think about discarding 3D print ideas. We do that for each other. It really helps to have someone to bounce it out to. You want someone to tell you that your baby is ugly or to tell you how beautiful your baby is and why you are not doing more with it. It happens both ways.
We like the discard pile. We like the visual part of it. It’s a really good way to think of it. It is like a deck of cards, there is always an idea, but your hand is different and at one point in time you might be in different place than you are a week from then.
If you have some ideas or some ways that you are discarding 3D print ideas especially, use criteria or ways that you help yourself validate and screen ideas. We would love to hear it.
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