How to Get the First Follower for Your Idea

How to Get the First Follower for Your Idea

By Tomislav Buljubasic

The first phase, or “zero phase” of the innovation process is to convince the first person to step behind your idea. The best way to start is to go to someone in the organization who can fund it, or find a way to fund it. Then, your idea will get it’s first push towards a better explanation and ironing out the technical details needed to get through the early stages of the process.

How Do You Get Your First Follower?

The ideal candidate to be your first listener could be:

  • Colleague
  • Superior
  • Investor

The most important (and often innovative) feature of the idea must be concisely elaborated upon and you must be able to summarize in a few sentences the:

  • Explanation
  • Benefits
  • Possible customers

Later, elaboration should be enhanced, but some things must be avoided:

  • Do not speak about your idea, before you have fully thought it through.
  • Your idea has to have a path to the market, if not it cannot be “sold” to anyone and you are wasting your time and the time of any potential partners.
  • Explain your idea in the easiest way possible – try to avoid technical phrases and long explanations, your idea should be understandable to those without the specific knowledge that you may have of a particular field.
  • Make sure to detail the first steps to get your idea moving. Do not leave that for someone else to figure out. (It is YOUR idea after all!)

Prototype Your Idea

If it’s possible, try to prototype the idea. While this makes sense only in a case if it’s cheap and fast to make, the benefits are incredible. Only key features of the product should be in the prototype as it should be simple and understandable (the prototype could also be a PowerPoint Presentation!). There are many examples where prototypes were the key for later success of an idea.

Also, sometimes it’s clever to make 2 prototypes and see which one is more attractive. That could give way to a new path for an idea in early stages of the process.

If properly executed to the right audience, that should be enough to get the first person supporting this idea – its first follower.

What About Selling Your Idea To an Organization?

In a case of organizations with an implemented innovation process, it should not be hard to get your first supporter, as ideas should first go to experts for evaluation. In this case, ideas will be screened and receive remarks first.

Keep in mind that sometimes it can be hard to get a negative response and rejection, but it could also be a basis for the next attempt with a change in the idea or with presenting something totally new. If your idea survives a first screening, all comments and remarks should be incorporated on the way to the next prototype and later successes.

Get that first person convinced, and you may see your idea grow into more!

Image courtesy of

Here are a few more articles to help you turn an idea into a real innovation:

3 Questions You Need to Answer About Your Next Great Idea

14 Ways to Get Breakthrough Ideas

How to Create an Idea Factory

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published on December 18, 2013 and has been updated. 

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