Your Idea Is Brilliant. It Dazzles. Now What?

By Bee Pettner

Social Entrepreneurship: Girls STEAM STEM Learning

Teaching the Teacher: Bee Pettner at the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) 2016. Bee was among the teen innovators with Pretty Brainy at the conference teaching teachers how to create tech with eTextiles.

How to come up with a great idea for a business was the subject of my last post, “How to Develop an Idea For a Business.” There I talk about the process of how to identify a community problem that affects people—lots of people.

Coming up with an idea or solution doesn’t just happen: it is a process and a journey, and once you have your idea—well, where do you go from there?

Over this blog series I tell you my journey through the process of social entrepreneurship—how to brainstorm and how to design and prototype, and—once you have an idea and vision—how to get it off the ground to help as many people as you can. I’ll also share my progress in my personal entrepreneurial journey.

You Learn and You Grow

So you have your idea, your vision, your revolution—but where do you go from here? If you know what you are going to do, how do you actually do it? If you have no idea what to do, then what? There are so many “first” steps, so much planning, and so much to do. So although it may seem like a lot—and, frankly, it is a lot—just know that what you are doing will make a difference and will change somebody’s life you and only you can see your vision through.

I am not a multi-gazillionaire, I don’t own 17 companies, I am not CEO of 30 businesses, I have not (yet) made $1 million, and I just graduated high school. BUT I have spent countless hours researching, have had meetings with very successful entrepreneurs, am in the process of trial of error, and I am in the middle of this journey right with you. I am learning and I am growing. So I am going to give you the story of what I did and the pros and cons to my journey—feel free to take my suggestions and implement them in your own journey.

Research, Research More and Find What’s Already Out There

I started by researching, researching, researching . . . and then some more researching. This is a good first step for pretty much anyone. Research may seem obvious, but I want to stress that before you pour your heart and soul into a project, make sure no one else has already introduced your idea. From everyone I have talked to and the stories that I have read, nothing is worse than when you pour your heart and soul into a project only to find out that someone else already has done it.

Make sure your idea is a new thing, but don’t worry if you find something similar. All that matters is your approach to it: as long as your direction is a new approach or method, as long as it is innovative and unique, you are good! Don’t worry about things similar to yours—in fact learning everything about mistakes and flaws others have made can be a great opportunity to improving your idea.

So research is where I started. And don’t worry if the process takes a while—it should.

I spent about two weeks fully researching my ideas for an innovative faucet and found some similar things. From those, I tweaked my design and idea, and that was a really great learning process, as well as being a great checkpoint. Explore what’s on the market. That way, when you eventually pitch your idea, you can be sure to highlight what makes your innovation different.

Research and Reflection Clarify Your Direction

From there I did a couple different things. First, I asked myself what I wanted to do.

I mean really ask yourself: what is your main objective? Let yourself go all over the place. Brainstorm outlandish things you could turn your idea into, stretch yourself.

Before this step, I just wanted to focus on the handwashing process, but after thinking and brainstorming, I realized that I was really passionate about the unpurified water that is killing so many people in Third World countries. I saw the connection with handwashing, health, and water, I saw the opportunity—there was nothing else like this, and I reprioritized my objectives. No matter what happens, I thought, I am going to help prevent the spread of sickness, whether it is through handwashing in developed areas or purifying water in underdeveloped areas—this is what I am passionate about.

This process really helped me streamline my ideas and come up with a solid objective and mission. From there I was able to go into more nitty-gritty details, including mission statements and business plans, but reflection is crucial.

Without taking a step back and looking at what your final objective is, there is no way you are ever going to reach it. To use a sports metaphor, how can you score when there is no net? This is the most fun and the hardest part.

When brainstorming you can see possibilities open for you, but then the doors never stop opening. It gets really hard when you have to look at all the problems you could solve, all the issues you care about and you have to pick one—ONE! It’s hard, really hard, but when you decide what your mission is and what you are striving to do, everything just seems to fall into place. Connections you didn’t even know were there start to form and everything clicks into place.

This step took quite a while for me. I was bouncing back and forth between ideas, and this should be a really reflective and introspective time.

To repeat: what do you want to do? What is your mission, your purpose? Why are you doing this? Why does it matter? These are some pretty tough questions that take some time to answer.

In my next post I will go into how I decided on my company’s name, Bee’s Healthy Hand Habits, and how I came up with my business plan and structure. I will also go into forming and starting a business and the differences between patents, trademarks, copyrights, and the pros and cons for each.

About Bee

Isabella (Bee) Pettner is a May 2017 graduate of Colorado Early Colleges Fort Collins where she concurrently earned her high school diploma and Associates Degree of Science from Front Range Community College. She is launching her own business, Bee’s Healthy Hand Habits, LLC, and is the owner of The Bee Sting, a shop that specializes in elegant and edgy fashion on Etsy. She has been part of Pretty Brainy for the past two years as a member of the design teams in Pretty Brilliant™, service learning in engineering design benefitting Habitat for Humanity, and Textiles + TechStyles™: Code, Innovation and Design Thinking. Bee loves inventing, engineering, designing, fashion, and math. She will attend Colorado State University beginning fall 2017 to major in apparel design with a double minor in saxophone and business.