To be successful in business, you need to connect and collaborate and delegate. Most entrepreneurs will tell you that they got where they are with support from mentors, peers and supporters. But, without giving your precious idea away or risking ridicule from family and friends, how do you go about getting the right sort of collaboration?
“We all come up with ideas, some good and some great. Our ideas have the power to change the world, but without action, they only exist as dreams,” says Hassan Syed, founder and CEO of IdeaGist.
IdeaGist is a “virtual incubator” that empowers entrepreneurial communities to collaborate on early-stage ideas, by providing a process focusing on bite-size actions. Syed says, “While we can become captivated with our ideas for a few days, we often cannot act upon them because we don’t have the time and/or resources. Sometimes we don’t know where to start or how to work on our idea. Many of us drop our ideas only to watch someone else see them through.”
The journey from an idea to an initial product can be harder than anyone ever expects and there is little help at this crucial stage. Syed explains: “Once we have developed a prototype or a working product, it becomes easy to attract investors, get hosted by an incubator, or accepted in an accelerator program.” With more than 1,600 ideas currently hosted on IdeaGist, Syed thinks it’s probably the largest virtual incubator in the world, serving entrepreneurs from 300 different communities worldwide.
With the help of the platform, any community, university or group can start a virtual incubator, improve the new venture development process for local conditions and provide support to many aspiring entrepreneurs at minimum cost.
Student entrepreneur Martin Hedley says, “When you start out as an entrepreneur, whatever your idea is, taking your idea and making it a reality requires so many different skill sets.”
“All entrepreneurs face skills gaps in their teams, areas where they lack the talent and knowledge,” Hedley says. “That is normal. No one can know everything. That is why it is vital entrepreneurs understand the importance of collaboration to tap into the talent that is around them. The best entrepreneurs surround themselves with people more talented than they are.”
Hedley, who studies at Manchester Business School and has just done a year abroad at McGill in Montreal, set up studentnucleus.com, a platform connecting student talent with collaboration opportunities offered by SMEs, start-ups and fellow students. He says, “I had an idea and needed to find programmers to help build the idea. I wanted to find other students to help me. I was surrounded by thousands of other students who had the skills I needed but didn't know who they were and it was extremely difficult to search for and find all the students who I could collaborate with and potentially help me.”
Hedley says: “The skills gaps SMEs have in their teams can be filled using the hugely under-underutilised resource that is the talent in the student community. We facilitate collaboration by making the talents within the student community available and at the fingertips of everyone who needs to find it "
For new entrepreneurs, collaboration is vital, says Hedley, “because it allows you to understand the importance of teamwork, how to manage other people and how to get the best of of others. Any budding entrepreneur must quickly realise that it is the this skill that will make or break your business. Any business is just a group of people, so knowing how to work with others is crucial.”