Build Your Ideas With These Lean Startup Inspired Approaches

The starting line does not always begin with a business plan or in business school. Sometimes, it begins with a hand drawn concept on a napkin, shared conversations among friends, or a thesis years in the making.

Are you always thinking about new approaches, concepts, inventions, processes, or products? Have you always wanted to create your own thing, but don’t know where to start?

We’ve gathered insight from the George Washington University Office of Innovation and Entrepreneurship team of advisors, mentors, and Lean Startup influencers on how to start, nourish, and then build upon your idea.

1. Start simple.

Sometimes the biggest possibilities are the easiest. Overthinking can be our greatest barrier to bringing an idea to life.

But, not too simple…

2. Go beyond every boundary.

Think big! Explore outer space with your ideas and then figure out how to make it work on earth later.

3. Leave your comfort zone.

Progress and innovation happens outside of comfort zones and when you leave the building, not within the boundaries of comfort and safety. “It’s OK to be nervous,” says Jim Chung, Associate Vice President, Innovation & Entrepreneurship.

4. Solve problems.

How can government processes be improved? How can healthcare be more affordable or accessible? How can art bridge communities? Come to the table with a problem and brainstorm solutions. Figure out how to build it later.

But, also…

5. The best kind of problem to have, is one that you care the most about.

It’s easier to find more people that care enough to join, support, or buy your solution when you care about it, too.

That also means you will need to…

6. Validate it.

Unlike a field of dreams, “if you build it, they will come” is not the best strategy to getting an idea off the ground. Do a bit of research into the people you are hoping to benefit, and figure out if their problems could be solved by your solution. Maybe that means they need better shorts to swim in or a better inner city compost system — that’s up for you to figure out!

7. You are not good at everything.

Are you great at design, but a wreck with public speaking? Can you write code, but need help writing a pitch? Would you rather build a product but need someone that can build a partnership? Find people that offset your weaknesses with their strengths, and then add them to your team.

8. Ask. For. Help.

We don’t expect anyone to have all the answers, despite popular belief. As Jim mentions in this video, “entrepreneurs and the startup community tend to be very open and helpful.” Don’t know to who to turn to? Start with our stellar team here at GW’s Office of Innovation and Research.

Bonus: we’ve recruited some experts, too…

9. Get a mentor.

We’ve got an impressive team of in-residence mentors that are ready to offer up their experience, insight, and support. “Run away from “only right” advisors. Find someone that will help you learn from their mistakes and push you beyond yours,” says GW alumni and serial entrepreneur Andy Cutler.

10. Leave the building. Share your idea with everyone.

Ideas are like gardens. They need air, sunlight, and water to grow. Air out your concepts, give it space and time, and ask other people to nurture and care for it. And then — submit your idea to the GW New Venture Competition by January 25!

All you need is one good idea to get started.

From growing tea leaves on rooftops to fill a gap in global development or to get students to fundraise for causes they love, the GW New Venture Competition platform provides mentorship, guidance, and resources to bring your ideas to life. Learn more»