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I think there’s somewhat of an epidemic in the creative and entrepreneurial space. It’s honestly more of a mindset epidemic than anything else, where the creative- and entrepreneurial-minded often get held back by the belief that an idea’s already been done, or a market is too saturated, and that they shouldn’t jump into a space they’re interested in pursuing because too many people are already doing that thing.
It’s the “it’s already been done” argument, and I really want to address it because the truth is, pretty much nothing is original in the business world. AND, guess what? That’s okay… in fact, it’s more than okay.
I see so many people with ideas and dreams procrastinate and put off getting started because of this very reason: someone else is already doing it. And I think, if we really dig a bit deeper, behind that excuse — because it does happen to be an excuse — there’s something even deeper. That person who’s already doing it? People often think: Well, they’re probably better at it than me. They have a bigger following than I do. They’ll reach more people than I can. That becomes the undertone beneath the argument that it’s already been done and the reason why you never go on to pursue that bigger dream on your heart.
I want to hit this belief on the head and flip it upside down, because if you’ve been held back by the fear that something’s already been done or a market is too saturated to simply enter it, I want you to know that your individual approach, your unique background and one-of-a-kind experiences have NEVER been utilized and they will NEVER be utilized if you keep falling prey to this lie. There is enough to go around, there is room for you at the table and by the end of this episode, I hope you truly believe that, too.
Learning your own secret sauce
One of the major things I’ve learned as I’ve built my business and stood alongside so many other badass entrepreneurs who could technically be my direct competition is that there’s no such thing as competition, especially if you truly believe everyone brings something rare to the table. Many of you know that two of my dear friends are Amy Porterfield and Rachel Hollis. I’ve also attended masterminds and often exchange advice and ideas with the likes of Ed Mylett and Dean Graziosi and Lewis Howes.
I’m not just name dropping to name drop, but I’m doing it only because these guys and gals could definitely be seen as my immediate competition, right? They’re all in the online education and marketing space, a few of us even have competing courses and yet we are all killing it with impacting our audiences and constantly leveling up our businesses.
If you’ve ever listened to a podcast episode from any of us, or followed us on social media, you’ll see we all have TOTALLY different approaches to how we share and what we bring to the table. You could learn from any or all of us and you’d learn different methods, different ideologies, and hear different stories that might resonate in different way to help you learn our systems.
So what is your secret sauce? Not to get all Mr. Rogers on you — but what makes you special? What makes you uniquely YOU? I’ve found that sharing those parts of us that make us stand out as individuals is what really endears people to you, no matter what industry you’re in, and no matter how saturated it is.
I think to really move past the belief that you can’t do something because it’s been done, you have to embrace that it HAS been done, but what you bring to the table is novel because your individuality is unlike anything that anyone is currently offering to the industry you want to enter into.
The difference between borrowing and copying
What are the gaps in the industry? What’s NOT being talked about or covered in the space you want to pursue? What do you find yourself searching for in disbelief that there isn’t more info on it?
If you listened to my episode about how I created my newest course, The Podcast Lab, in 7 days, you heard me talk about the big why behind making the course.
I found there were only a few other courses out there that teach how to launch and run a podcast, but I found a hole that I knew I could fill, which was how to profit from podcasting. When I launched the course, I could position it as a truly new idea because nothing like it had been done before, as far as I found. That gap in the market is the magic spot that you should be searching for as you look into your idea that you’ve seen done already.
Take an inventory, what’s out there, what’s missing, what do you know that isn’t being shared, and what are people searching for and coming back empty on?
Take your grand idea, narrow your focus and find ways to solve some problem that isn’t commonly addressed or create a solution for something that’s been glossed over previously. This will also generate a community of people who have been seeking out answers in that specific realm and paint you as an expert! Cool, right?
Now, while we’re on the topic of working from existing ideas, I do want to caution you and mention that there’s a big difference between borrowing a concept or idea and totally stealing it. Plagiarism is no joke and I’ve seen it in droves in the online space for years. The difference between borrowing and copying is that if you’re just taking someone else’s idea and using it almost verbatim and only changing a few small things, like a line or two of copy or swapping in your design colors and a different brand name, for example, this is a big time no-no.
We have legal counsel on staff because of how often our content gets plagiarized so please don’t hear this and just take everyone else’s stuff to make an epic mashup, use this as a challenge to create what ISN’T readily out there.
The goal is to take inspiration from others and then make it completely your own, take what worked, teach what didn’t work, add in your secret sauce, complete the process… make it yours. While no new idea is completely original, it also shouldn’t be completely stolen from someone else, either. You can borrow and pivot and combine two or more different concepts and recreate and repurpose and throw your own unique and special spin on it, and that is totally fine. But never, ever, ever just rip an idea straight from someone else and call it your own.
Elizabeth Gilbert’s “Big Magic” look at ideas
Do you know Elizabeth Gilbert? She’s the author who wrote Eat, Pray, Love, and she also wrote a book about creativity that I honestly believe everyone needs to read, called Big Magic.
The premise is that we all have creativity inside us, whether you’re an engineer or an author or a chef or an accountant. We all get hit with ideas and inspiration, right? But some people just have easier access to finding an outlet for those ideas and pursuing them, while others might feel a little more stuck in the pursuit.
Her belief is that ideas aren’t a material thing, but they do have consciousness and the sole will to be manifested. The only way they can come to be is by partnering up with us, humans. Weird but kind of cool, right? So ideas are always around us looking for willing and available people to take them on. And this means all kinds of ideas: scientific, artistic, religious, and beyond.
When an idea finds you, it does everything it can to get your attention. And you might notice, but you might not because our world is so full of busyness, fast paces, noise, anxiety and distractions. Sometimes, though, when you’re still and relaxed, the idea can get through to you and start making itself known to you. It’ll keep popping up when it can get through and keep attempting to get you to take action on it. She says the idea will show up all around you and so much of your daily life will remind you of the idea until you make a decision about it.
And then you have two options: you can tell the idea no, and eventually it will go away and find someone new. And no is not always the bad or wrong choice — sometimes you simply don’t have the bandwidth or resources to take on a new idea, so you can politely let it go free to look for somebody else. She says no is the thing most people say to their ideas because we often have so much on our plates or things holding us back or beliefs in the way of going for it.
So you could say no and the idea will move on OR you can say yes. When you say yes, Gilbert says “you’ve entered into a contract with inspiration, and you must try to see it through, all the way to its impossible-to-predict outcome.” You can trust that the idea has chosen you based on your unique gifts and experiences because you seemed like just the right person to bring it to life. Isn’t that kind of amazing, to think of ideas as little living beings finding their way to us because we’re a good fit to bring it forward?
Has this ever happened to you?! Maybe you had an idea for some technology or a startup that you said no to at the time, and then a few months or years later you see it on Shark Tank or all over Instagram. Maybe it was a blog or online business that you weren’t willing to take action on at the time.
When you think of ideas as these living beings that choose you on purpose, it can become so much easier to trust and follow them, right? And to want to protect them and manifest them yourself, rather than letting them find someone else. And even if the idea looks like something similar to what someone else is doing, know that you can put your own spin and secret sauce on it to make it new and different and totally your own. Don’t let that opportunity pass you by.
The Big Picture
At the end of the day you can look at the fact that someone else shares an idea with you in two ways: as an excuse to not take action or as proof that there’s a concept out there that’s working and as a challenge to make your idea your own, creative, unique, original to you and you alone. I’ll choose the latter and I sincerely hope you will, too. Because I’m sick of hearing all of these brilliant ideas that light you up from the inside out followed up with words along the lines of, “But I’ll never actually do it because someone else already is.” There is only one you and you bring different gifts and perspectives and methods and stories to the table, the seat is waiting, so sit down, get to work and own it.
So, are you feeling more ready to take on your big idea that’s been sitting in your back pocket because you’re afraid it’s already been done? Don’t let the idea slip your grasp and go find someone else, because I truly believe it made its way to you for a reason.