History is easily forgotten.
It’s an unfortunate reality in many aspects of life. And whether it’s ignored due to ego or unknowingly dismissed, waste is the byproduct.
At one extreme, waste can mean bloodshed and loss of life when public policy is enacted in the absence of history’s wisdom.
For founders, waste takes the form of lost time and money, neither of which they can afford.
Assuming History Is Understood Is A Mistake
I’ve listened to hundreds of pitches. Those who deliver well-rehearsed presentations can often seem to have a handle on the history of their business model.
Nine times out of ten this will prove incorrect. This is because their perspective is usually grounded in the current market conditions they can see.
I ask about history for two reasons.
The first is that it exposes how passionate the founder is about their topic. Good ones always seek to learn from those who have walked before them. This is a leading indicator that they are predisposed (and impatient) to de-risk their business model by leveraging prior knowledge to accelerate traction.
The second reason is that there’s no such thing as an original idea.
As a result, there is a very high probability that an idea has been at least thought of or attempted at some point in the past. Anyone who disagrees can’t use Google properly.
I’ve seen founders dig in about this and protest that their idea is entirely novel even in the face of suggestion (by potential investors) that they are aware of something similar.
This isn’t smart if you’re trying to build rapport with future supporters.
It’s Easy To Make History Part Of Your Culture
The history of any idea or business model should be part of the decision to move forward (or kill and move on). Here are four ways to make history part of your organisation’s culture.
1. Make it mandatory
If your organisation uses business case templates add a history field and mark it mandatory for completion.
2. Create a ‘History’ slide for each pitch deck.
I’m not saying this slide should be included when pitching, there won’t be enough time alongside the other 10 slides that need to be covered. However, this slide should be included in the deck that’s emailed to prospective investors and detail how the history will be leveraged in the near future.
3. Phone a friend
When I wrote about the best $50 I’d ever spent as a founder I referred to getting someone else to find historical evidence of an idea online. This one act has saved people a lot of time and effort.
4. Just ask.
If the founder has a compelling answer consider this a good sign.
The bottom line is that understanding and acting on history reduces the waste of time and money.
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