A simple tagline can really get you thinking. If it’s bang on, it will resonate with people and convey the whole reason behind a business or cause. It’s a bit like a mini mission statement. The ones that really stand out are recognisable all over the world. If you hear ‘just do it’ you’re likely to think of the brand behind it.
This week, I read one single line under the banner Lady Start Up. ‘It starts with an idea’. The simplicity of the statement really grabbed me. I went on a big coast walk and sat at the beach using that line for inspiration, running it over and over in my head. Because all new things – start ups, hobbies, artworks, global corporations, social enterprises and causes, events, articles or books – really do start with an idea.
Some of them are accidental. Some are the result of true inspiration and crystalise like a snowflake falling. Some ideas are deliberately created, and come out of intense brainstorming, typically to address a problem or highlight an issue. Others are strategic, with a clear process behind them – ideation as one step in design thinking.
But the thing is, the idea at the very centre of what you set out to do isn’t enough. One of those strange intersections you soon discover in early stage business is the hype of start-up life doesn’t match reality. An idea isn’t easy money. You have to work out a way to tease this concept or idea out of your head and into solid next steps. A good idea is one thing, but as a mentor (highly experienced entrepreneur with a wildly successful exit behind him) said to me, “we had a good idea, but so did lots of people. What set us apart is that we had a good idea and executed it well”.
Execution, it turns out, is a critical factor.
Even with a great idea, memorable tagline and good execution, you mightn’t end up where you hoped. An idea and a great tagline are two foundation steps when starting out, but a tagline isn’t necessarily obvious at the get-go. Once you’ve worked with your MVP or tested the market and where it sits, you can work backwards to add that part of the branding. And just because taglines or slogans are short and punchy, doesn’t mean they are easy! They can be one of the most elusive lines, because simple is actually very complex.
Basically, there’s a long road ahead that is both exhilarating and exhausting. There’s a ton of other stuff to navigate, develop, identify, create, plan. There are legal, financial and investment decisions. In the world of start-ups, you’ve got to remember ‘it won’t happen overnight, but it will happen’.
Female entrepreneurs often feel caught in the forces that mold us: our upbringing, how women are viewed and respected, nice girls, sexism, bias, all those cultural shapers. These things can complicate or make it harder to find the courage to press ahead the way you think is best. It starts with an idea, but your personality, focus, determination, experience, access to capital, relationships and ability to spruik it will make an enormous difference to where it eventually lands.
Social media is great for selling the dream and distilling key aspirations into, well, catchy and memorable taglines. But there’s so much more to it. Not every idea will become Ikea.