When you’ve created and shared a successful experience with the world, one question people love to ask is “Where do your ideas come from?” For those of us who generate creative concepts regularly, we know that’s the wrong question to ask. The greatest hurdle to creating a great experience isn’t imagining it. Having a captivating concept appear in our heads comes just after breathing in terms of how often it occurs, and one of the great motivations for doing focused work is making them stop.
What takes real effort and skill is defining your dream with enough detail and passion that you can communicate it to others. It takes a well-crafted vision can to become a rallying point for the time and funds necessary to complete the work of transforming it into an experience worth sharing with an audience.
Even if the vision in your head has ignited your passion with enough intensity that you’d be willing to crawl over a thousand shattered iPhones to make it happen, you can’t do it alone. If you’re going to convince other people to become involved you have to turn that thought into a relatable, inspiring intention.
If the only resource you want from others is their time, attention, and focus (i.e. work) then your first job is convincing them that realizing your vision will be a valuable experience in itself.
And if you need money to make it happen, you have to not only connect to the people holding the purse strings, you have to communicate your idea to them in a way that will convince them investing in your concept their will make money will grow. If all you’re offering is a dream they can only vaguely understand, you may get some encouragement, but you won’t see much cash.
No matter what you want, or who you’re asking, the first great hurdle to getting people to invest is convincing them that you’ll be able to actually produce the experience you’re describing: you need to be credible.
What everyone wants to hear (and what great visionaries know how to deliver) is a passionate message that will convince them that your vision in particular is the one to spend their resources on. That may be obvious, but it’s easy to forget that the there’s a hidden reason you need to inspire your potential investors first: they are your first audience.
Whether your ultimate goal is to reach a mass-market ready and willing to spend cash, or a community of like-minded and enthusiastic people looking to engage and make change happen, your initial investors are the kindling you need to light before you can set the world on fire.
Social Media has dramatically increased our ability to connect with potential investors, whether it’s venture capitalists, activists, enthusiastic nerds, or a thousand other communities. But that level of access means that every group is now overwhelmed by enticing opportunities. The heady days of Silicon Valley VC firms handing out tons of cash to a young visionary with nothing more than a big idea and an MBA have come to an end. When everyone is hoping to disrupt the status quo, you need to hone your ideas before you can find people willing to invest. You need to find your community first, inspire investment, and then grow from there.
That’s where a well-defined vision comes in handy. A powerful statement can become a rallying point for support—a place where people can agree that no matter how hard it will be to fully realize your dream, no matter how many hurdles there will be to jump over, and no matter how many times you (and they) will fall, the passionate truth behind your idea is worth the sacrifice. A well-defined vision communicates an experience that is worth the journey—no matter what the outcome.
And yet so many creative people hesitate to take that simple step. They’re afraid that making a clear statement of vision who limit their creative opportunities during the process of creation. And they’re right, it does.
But as the marketplace of ideas has become more crowded, the audience is becoming more sophisticated: it’s the concepts that are well-crafted and tightly focused that stand up to the scrutiny and judgement that everyone brings to the table. Suckers may still be born every minute, but investors are made through connection and communication. To find people willing to invest their time and resources into your vision you need to define it with clarity. That’s what can transform a casual observer into an active participant.