Here’s a story about believing in your own innovative ideas.
Romi Haan’s South Korean company debuted 10 years ago with a steam mop that sanitizes floors with heat, not chemicals.
Up until then, the centuries-old Ondol tradition—heated floors and one central room for eating, sleeping and gathering—essentially required women to get down on their hands and knees to wipe the floors daily.
Haan envisioned a better way. But in South Korea, “there aren’t many women entrepreneurs, especially ones who are engineers,” says Haan. “So when I started out, people often made fun of me. They told me to go home and cook.”
She often approached male buyers within South Korean retail chains. “They would say, ‘Why would people want to buy this? They already have a vacuum cleaner.’ I’d explain for a half an hour—the vacuum cleaner sweeps, my cleaner mops—and in the end, the guy would repeat the same questions.”
It took finding female buyers, who instantly saw the benefit of the new mop, for Haan to get her product into distribution.
Lesson: Got a great idea? Find the audience most likely to “buy” it, and sell the idea by touting benefits. For example, your idea for conserving paper might be music to the ears of an operations executive tasked with reducing overall waste. Sell the idea to him first, then strategize about ways to influence others.