This is my experiences of the MOOC “The Enterprise Shed: Making Ideas Happen“
So last week we were asked to comment on assignments where course participants provided a problem and then their solution to that problem. If a business could be made out of, all the better, but the main drive was for people to describe a problem and what their solution to it might be. Some of the problems submitted were around social issues, so it’s wasn’t all ‘for money’ business.
The role of the person giving feedback was;
- How clearly is the problem and solution articulated, no criticism of the validity of the idea, rather how well you understand what has been presented.
- Contributing and building upon the problem/solution. Don’t be judgemental
- What additional information would help someone to understand the problem/solution
There was no real word limit so I contributed what I felt comfortable with, I think the average was around 300-400 words, but there were a few that were way over that.
I did my first feedback and then found that after hitting ‘Submit review’ there was the option to do another one. So I did, and another, and another. I’ve currently done 20, and may call it a day there. Or I may not, as this is a MOOC, I don’t think that the course will ‘close’ as such, so I may be able to come back and comment further.
What did I learn?
There are people out there wanting to solve some really difficult problems; sudden homelessness in the over 60’s, better awareness of dementia and what IT can do to help and access to clean water being a few of them. Then there are people with terrific ideas for businesses but don’t know where to start, some people are pushing the envelope on technology to its limits, some people want to make a steady income, some people want to change the mindset of entire industries. In some areas I knew some background and could contribute effectively, in others I could only offer general comments – some of those being;
- Is there a market for your idea? Set up a webpage offering the service (cleaning, personal trainer, custom knitting etc.) along with some indication of what you might charge. Then buy some adverts on Facebook which are explicitly tailored to your target audience (e.g. people in their 30’s who are into fitness, who are in your area who have recently visited websites about personal trainers). If you get a response on your site, you know there’s a market, if you don’t, modify your offering until you find there is, or try something new. Or maybe try Google adverts instead.
- Where do I find like minded people? Join or create a group on Facebook, LinkedIn or other social networks in your area or country. Be active on those networks, offer advice and ideas freely, turn up at local get-togethers and webinars. Pretty soon, you’ll have a group of people who are interested in what you have to say. Or maybe you’ll find you’re not into that anyhow and you’ll do something else.
- How do I get started with …? Start with friends and family – would they buy your product or use your service? Then ask those friends to ask their friends whether they would be interested (your mum is always going to buy your product, so best not to base your business plans on mum’s endorsement). Then maybe start to think about a website, do you need a custom one or will www.etsy.com do? And so on. The key was to break down the huge and daunting problem into smaller and smaller steps until it you do the next step almost by default. And then you take the next step…
Very few people were held up on wanting money before they could do anything. This was very encouraging – most people who were stuck on getting started were there because they weren’t sure of the next step (but they knew they wanted to make that next step), or because they weren’t sure that their idea had any merit to begin with. For the former, I suggested tiny steps, and in the case of the latter I tried to offer some thoughts on how they could size up the market for their idea or service beforehand.
Some of the ideas were outstanding – I’ll not give anything away, but I was able to comment on some ideas that I really hope come to fruition – I would love to buy some of those products and services!
Some problems were heartbreaking and I really hope I helped those people out somewhat.
Some people wanted to solve problems that were huge – electrifying a country for example, and for those people all I could do was to offer some advice on finding like minded people.
I have been reading “Become an Idea Machine” by Claudia Azula Altucher and following the ‘Daily Practice’ regimen that she and James Altucher talk about a lot – each day you do something; physical (yoga, walk 10,000 steps, dance), mental (write down 10 ideas, play a brain-training game, learn a language), emotional (don’t deal with people who are downers, get closer to people who are good for you) and spiritual (not necessarily religious; being grateful for what you have, forgiving people). Do I do this each and every day, nope, but I’m trying to get that little bit better. What I’ve been trying to do with providing feedback to other participants on the course is to give them 10 ideas that might contribute or build on their solution – I’ve not been entirely successful with all the responses (so if you got a response from me and it only had three ideas – I apologise!), but it has helped me a lot – my brain has been frazzled the last few days (in a good way).
The MOOC so far has been really interesting and I hope my contributions are helping people out.
I’ll post some more as things progress.