One of the things I found most fascinating from the champion entrepreneurs I interviewed for How They Did It: Billion Dollar Insights from the Heart of America was their ability to seize on Plan B, that is, to realize when their initial idea wasn’t a home run, and to focus on a better idea. Scott Jones, inventor of voice mail as we know it – now used by billions of people all over the world — was faced with this choice when he decided to kill a good business that didn’t have the potential for a home run. He went for the huge home run and he won.
In this podcast I interviewed new entrepreneur Limor Elkayam and we talked about her first company, Spotery.com, a news aggregator. When Spotery.com didn’t get traction she thought up the idea to create a daily deal aggregator to help make money, called Dealery.com. Limor quickly realized that the second idea was the winner. Dealery is kind of like Groupon or Living Social, but doesn’t employ sales folks to sell to local merchants. Instead it picks up deals from a bunch of different deal sites and rebroadcasts them, earning a commission on each sale.
Not only did Dealery feel like a stronger concept to Limor, but validation wasn’t long in coming. She launched and started getting publicity within 30 minutes of flipping the switch “on” for her site. How did that happen? By cultivating the same journalists who’d ignored her the first time around! Limor said Spotery publicity “was like pulling teeth” but the same bloggers and journalists who ignored the first company readily picked up and reported on Dealery, including the New York Times and USA Today. Rookie Limor learned two great things:
First: get ready to turn on a dime. Defend your first idea, but not to the death. If things aren’t working, get ready to shift, move, change gears when you see the better idea.
Second: be upfront with your new idea. Just because you got rejected the first time doesn’t mean you won’t be embraced – quickly! – the second time around.