Legendary tennis champion Arthur Ashe is famous for many reasons, including being the first black man to win a singles title at Wimbledon. He also is quoted as having given the sage and practical advice of “Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can”. Within the J. Orin Edson Entrepreneurship + Innovation Institute, we regularly are giving students similar advice, encouraging them to ‘just start’, whether that path looks like getting connected to an entrepreneurship-focused student organization, attending an event, or beginning to work on a project. Often, starting can be the hardest part, especially if you want to create something that is big or that has not been done before.
To help build momentum and get started on your idea, consider this:
Tell someone else about your idea. Having a conversation with someone else may seem scary, or even like a risk that they could steal your idea… the reality is that people think of ideas all the time, and it’s important to get perspective and support along the way. If you are worried about someone stealing your idea, think about ways you might communicate the big picture without getting into the details that make up the recipe for your secret sauce. Often, our ideas do not require a patent or other legal protection; it really comes down to the time and effort we take to execute.
Communication is key, and asking for feedback along the way can help to improve an idea. While talking about your idea is a helpful way to improve your pitch, these conversations can also be opportunities for feedback or to look at things from a different perspective. As you get more comfortable, you’ll want to also engage in what is called Customer Discovery interviews, where you ask intentional questions to those who might one day be a future client or customer.
Identify why you wouldn’t want to start. Maybe you don’t feel like you have enough time this semester, or you are don’t think you have the specific skill set needed to advance your idea… while these concerns might not actually be true, they also might help you identify your next step. If you need to find a co-founder with different expertise, maybe your first goal will be attending a networking event. Some barriers, like worrying you don’t have the money available to develop your idea, might be temporary and solvable. Participating in a funding competition or other experience as an ASU student would be a good goal for the school year.
It is okay if it feels like things are ‘getting in the way’, especially if you try and think through any barriers with a solutions-oriented approach. Starting something is not easy, but we are here to help.
Find out how other Sun Devils have advanced their ideas. Hundreds of ASU students are regularly engaged with entrepreneurship projects, including as participants in the ASU Venture Devils program. It can be helpful to connect with other students who have started their own projects and built an entrepreneurial experience while being part of the ASU community. We have a team of undergraduate students, Entrepreneurship Catalysts, available to connect with you for individual conversations. Whether you want to learn more about how to navigate resources, or just get feedback on your idea from another ASU student, the Catalysts are here (virtually) to help and get you connected to all things entrepreneurship happening at ASU.
Reflect, reflect, reflect. Remember the advice to “Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can”? To do that well, reflect on your starting point as it relates to yourself and your idea(s). We just created a new Just Start Guidebook to help you. You can download this self-paced resource to work through and identify your ideas, while also setting personal goals. Download the Just Start Guidebook
We are here to help you just start your entrepreneurial adventure. With a variety of events, programs, and inspirational videos, there are so many great ways to connect and advance your experience. We look forward to seeing the great things you achieve while you are at ASU.