Just because you are called Leonardo da Vinci does not make you an entrepreneur

Now here’s a thought. What does it take to turn an idea into a good commercial business? Turn it on its head and wonder if being the greatest scientist and scholar of the century means you’re a successful entrepreneur.

Take Leonardo da Vinci. Described as an Italian polymath, being a scientist, mathematician, engineer, inventor, anatomist, painter, sculptor, architect, botanist, musician, and writer. Leonardo has often been described as the archetype of the renaissance man, a man whose unquenchable curiosity was equalled only by his powers of invention.

Leonardo is revered for his technological ingenuity. He conceptualised a helicopter, a tank, concentrated solar power, a calculator, the double hull and outlined a rudimentary theory of plate tectonics. Relatively few of his designs were constructed or were even feasible during his lifetime, but some of his smaller inventions, such as an automated bobbin winder and a machine for testing the tensile strength of wire, entered the world of manufacturing unheralded. As a scientist, he greatly advanced the state of knowledge in the fields of anatomy, civil engineering, optics, and hydrodynamics. Or so it says in Wikipedia. What a guy!

But guess what – by 1500 he was so hard up he had to go and earn some pin money painting portraits of the Gioconda family – and in the process gave the world the Mona Lisa.

So, what’s the point? We all know that Leonardo was a genius and he’ll still be revered when you and I are probably pushing up daisies. But he wasn’t an entrepreneur. The inventions he came up with did not meet the needs of paying customers at the right price – let alone the capability of building the products in the first place.

Now maybe Leonardo didn’t mind too much being broke. But fact is that if you want to turn your ideas into commercial reality you need to make sure that you:

  • Have a clear customer proposition
  • Know exactly who represents your first core market segment?
  • Can answer the question ‘Is my proposition compelling?’

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