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  • 26 February 2015
  • Eric Michaels

Big ideas: Not trying costs more than failure

What is the value of a big idea? There's no telling where your brilliant and remarkable idea can take you. However, missing your opportunity to communicate that idea and bring your vision to the world is incredibly costly. Not trying has the potential to stunt your growth as an entrepreneur and as a person, and it can cost you far more than failure ever would.

Entering the arena

Best-selling author and entrepreneurship expert Seth Godin suggests that the cost of backing away from a great idea is much higher than "putting yourself out there."

As an entrepreneur, arming yourself for the fight ahead is a straightforward process.

As Tesla Motors founder Elon Musk told 60 Minutes in 2014, Tesla was one rough patch away from going bankrupt, which would have left him penniless. Musk said he had never been so close to a nervous breakdown in his life, and had to brace himself for failure.

"I didn't really think Tesla was going to be successful," he said. "But I thought that we'd at least address the false perception that electric cars had to be ugly, slow, and boring like a golf cart."

Now, however, several years later, Musk is credited with revolutionizing the auto industry with his innovative automobiles and unique way of running a car company. Meanwhile, Tesla Motors has been one of this decade's top-performing stocks. For Elon Musk, trying to change the world was worth risking everything. And while gambles like this certainly won't appeal to every entrepreneur, understand that choosing not to try may come with a greater existential cost.

Trying means moving beyond failure

As an entrepreneur, arming yourself for the fight ahead is a straightforward process. Whether your business aims to make a difference, a product, or a point — in the case of Tesla Motors, it was all three — there are clear ways to increase your chances for success. For one, great ideas must be accompanied by a solid business plan, marketing, and the flexibility to change course when if original concept proves untenable for any reason.

Still, no matter the path, it all begins with an inspirational thought that separates you from the pack. No great company ever got off the ground without a great idea at its core. It all begins with the light bulb inside your head. How long it takes for that concept to become a successful business depends on many factors. Sourcing investment capital, technology development, staff and contract issues are just a few of the stumbling blocks you might face. Sometimes, you may even be getting in the way of your own business. But however long it takes to clear these hurdles, your willingness to move forward and try remains paramount. If you ever feel ready to quit, consider the Tesla story, and the fact that by not trying you might not only be stunting your own personal development, you could be depriving the world of the next great company.

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