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Ever been going about your day and thought: “Hey, my life would be so much easier if there was an app for this”? Well if you have, join the club! The difference between someone who has an idea and someone who is an entrepreneur is the ability to validate and prototype that idea.
At least that’s the way Marilyn Sanford, who’s founded and owned multiple companies, sees it. After 23 years in the construction industry, Marilyn noticed something. Many construction projects were being held up by inefficiencies in staffing, delaying project completion. Her solution was to create LincEdge Inc, a double-sided platform that connects skilled trades with projects in need of additional talent; it has features that allow you to localize your search, cross industries, and connect with people you trust, based on a score that is generated using algorithms and user feedback.
From the start of this adventure to the platform’s launch on September 18th, LincEdge was once just an idea that is now set to make the construction industry more efficient. If you have an idea that’s waiting to come to life, here’s what to do with it (as advised by Marilyn, who has had her fair share of brilliant ideas).
Talk to others about it
Don’t keep your idea to yourself! A byproduct of sharing your idea with others is finding like-minded people, people who understand the purpose behind your vision and get excited about it with you.
It may seem counter-intuitive to give away your big idea but from what Marilyn has seen, the more people you talk to, the better. When other entrepreneurs are creating similar innovations to yours, it validates your idea. “There’s no reason why [you] can’t collaborate with them,” says Marilyn, who is currently engaging with an entrepreneur who is creating a similar skills-sharing platform for the medical industry. Many new projects face the same challenges; by sharing knowledge and resources, you can grow your network, learn more, and you may even find a solution faster.
Build yourself a team
So you studied Geography in college and, as a hobby, run marathons. Your new venture idea is way out in the left field, baseball analytics. Even if you don’t know the first thing about the sport or its metrics, you probably know someone who does.
It’s no secret that teamwork is integral to any business’ success. Although Marilyn had 23 years of experience in the construction industry, it is essential that she build a new strong team. This includes CTO, George Doukas, as well as multiple developers and designers, to build the platform. By hiring people who are the best at what they do, the LincEdge team is able to collaborate effectively, which sometimes involves friction. That ‘heat’ can be critical to the evolution of great ideas.
Be open to change
When you have a brilliant plan, it can be tempting (even easy) to put your head down and head in a straight direction but “you have to pivot,” advises Marilyn. Don’t forget to look up, engage your environment, and if where you are isn’t working, be prepared to move in a different direction!
Don’t be afraid to switch gears; consider new target markets and different plans. You may have to take steps backwards but take comfort in the fact that it’s all part of the process.
Make mistakes and learn from them
Can a mistake create an opportunity? Marilyn thinks so. Although LincEdge’s alpha test was redeveloped after a short six months, it produced market feedback that was used to create the current product. The original version had many features; in fact, it was too rich, making it cumbersome for users. The new approach reflects the core value in its most simple form and from there user feedback will drive relevant features.
So that idea of yours. Share it and get feedback from others, including a few smart people you’ll want to surround yourself with. Be flexible through the process and when you stumble, get back up again. Because that’s the seduction of entrepreneurship – it’s an adventure.