Two months ago I launched a new business. I’d spent months developing it and refining it. I’d created assets for it, a twitter account, a website, films. Hundreds and hundreds of hours had gone into it before it launched. I’ve now spent several weeks talking to people about it, trying to sell the services, bombarding my whole network repeatedly to get it in front of their eyeballs.

Today I’ve killed it

It had been a big investment of money, time and passion.

Today I’ve killed it and launched something else.

I want to share why so that other people can learn from my journey. Or at least understand that they’re not alone.

Pivot, pivot, pivot

I’ve started a number of businesses over the years and there’s one thing they all have in common: they ended up being quite different to my original vision. That’s not a bad thing. But it’s the reason that I now refuse to write business plans. From experience, they only make it harder to adapt.

I now refuse to write business plans

Think of it this way. If you’re building a racing car, you can do all the right work in advance, getting the right parts, putting them together in the right order, filling your new vehicle with fuel and putting it on the starting line. But it’s not until you start the engine and begin moving that you discover the problems. And sometimes those problems start with a niggle and take time to crystallise. That’s what happened to me.

My original business was called RADCAT – an acronym of the creative process Research, Ask, Divergent Thinking, Convergent Thinking, Amend and Test. Its purpose was to be a simple process that would help anyone develop better solutions. People thought it sounded great but there were two words that regularly resulted in a puzzled expression – ‘Divergent’ and ‘Convergent’. And if I’m trying to simplify the creative process, puzzlement isn’t the reaction I’m looking for.

So the new name – which is still an acronym – has ditched those terms in favour of something simpler.

The best idea doesn’t always come from you

I’m not ashamed to say that the new name – RIGHT Thinking – wasn’t my idea. It was an idea my friend Chris Penny had while walking the dog. Chris is the Managing Director of the communications agency HowellPenny (as well as the singer in my old university band) and he understands my market brilliantly.

He replaced the ‘divergent’ and ‘convergent’ parts of the process with one term: ‘generate ideas’.

Some jiggery-pokery with the other steps led to Research, Insight, Generate, Hone and Test – or RIGHT thinking. It’s simpler, has great connotations and is easier to remember than RADCAT. Brilliant!

You have to stop worrying about losing face

Changing the name so early on surely wouldn’t reflect well on me

Naturally, I was concerned about changing the name. I’ve spent heaps of time and energy trying to make people aware of RADCAT. Changing the name so early on surely wouldn’t reflect well on me or the business. I was really uncomfortable with the idea of changing the name and – to be honest with you – I still am. But that doesn’t mean it’s the wrong thing to do.

I weighed up the pros and cons of each option, focusing mainly on the long-term benefits. Changing the name came out tops. It would be stupid not to do it.

I then realised the things that made me nervous were mainly personal stuff like worrying what my peers would think about me. I also knew I was being influenced by the Sunk Cost Fallacy – which is what influences gamblers to throw good money after bad. I’d just have to swallow my pride, give my ego a stern talking to and make the leap.

There’s no good time to do something radical

I was just getting ready to do a major sales push when Chris sent me into this spin. I had to refocus my efforts on creating a new identity, website and heaps of other stuff. Fortunately, most of the work had already been done with RADCAT and I just had to tinker with it and give it a shiny new style. But it still takes time.

I considered putting off the name change for a few months but it just didn’t make sense. It would be more difficult the more time goes by. Inconvenient as it is, now is usually the best time.

There’s no good time to do something radicalClick To Tweet

Your audience is more important than you

I could have happily carried on calling my business RADCAT. It made sense to me. I understood all of the steps perfectly. I knew it could help people solve problems better. But I’m not my audience. That seems to be a hard thing for people in business to get their heads around. But I didn’t do all this hard work for my own sake – I did it to make things easier for my audience. And hopefully, it does that.

Always give credit where it’s due

I could easily have told you all this and not name-checked Chris. I could even have lied to myself that it was my idea really. But I don’t believe in that.

I could even have lied to myself that it was my idea really

If you habitually hog the credit in the workplace, no one will want to share ideas with you. If you have a reputation of always giving credit to others, people will bring even more ideas to you. If you’re good at connecting the right people to make things happen, you then become a catalyst for innovation. Which is an exciting and valuable role to have.

I’m going to be redirecting my RADCAT site at the end of the week. But if you want to take a peek at the business that’s about to be euthanised, you can see it here.

But I really want you to look at the new business – RIGHT thinking. And to think about how it can help your business. If you’ve ever used brainstorms in the workplace it can have a massive effect.

And maybe, just maybe, some of these points will help you to make the right decision, even if it’s painful.

https://i2.wp.com/openforideas.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/09/RADCAT_is_dead.jpg?fit=1024%2C576https://i2.wp.com/openforideas.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/09/RADCAT_is_dead.jpg?resize=150%2C150Dave BirssCorporate Creativityaudience,business,credit,decision,difficult,ideas,pivot,radcat,right thinking
Two months ago I launched a new business. I'd spent months developing it and refining it. I'd created assets for it, a twitter account, a website, films. Hundreds and hundreds of hours had gone into it before it launched. I've now spent several weeks talking to people about it,...
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Dave Birss
Founder and Editor at OpenForIdeas.org
Dave is obsessed with creativity. He's been a musician, illustrator, stand-up comedian, poet, radio DJ, television presenter and advertising creative director. He also wrote A User Guide to the Creative Mind.
Now he runs Open for Ideas and helps individuals and companies become more creative.
You can find him speaking at conferences all over the world. And sharing his thinking in boardrooms, universities and dimly-lit pubs.