In 1967, on a cocktail napkin at a bar in TX, they drew a triangle.
The corners were labeled, “San Antonio,” “Houston,” and “Dallas.”
What they didn’t know was that the triangle represented an idea that would eventually be worth billions.
Southwest Airlines started on a napkin. Let that sink in for a second.
Like most really successful businesses, they had more than just a good idea.
We’ve all had thousands of ideas before—good ideas, bad ideas, exciting ideas, boring ideas.
Every new business starts off as just that, an idea. But what separates the ideas that don’t make it past your cocktail napkin from the ones that turn into a billion dollars (we can all dream, right?)?
I see 4 major components that need to all be present for an idea to turn into a crazy successful business:
Potential, Passion, Purpose, and Persistence (you’re welcome for the alliteration).
I talk a lot about validation, and for good reason. If nobody will pay you for your product or service, you need to move on to another idea. An idea that you can validate has the potential to turn into a profitable business.
Rollin King, entrepreneur and cofounder of Southwest, had previously acquired a small air-taxi service that flew between San Antonio and small cities in South Texas. It was never profitable, but he saw the potential, and that potential is what spawned the idea to fly between what were the 3 fastest-growing cities in Texas at the time, birthing what we now know as Southwest Airlines.
Passion and Purpose:
Why do anything? For an idea to really flourish and be fulfilling, there has to be an underlying purpose that means something to you.
Some people couldn’t care less whether or not they’re passionate about the idea as long as it’s bringing in the benjamins. But without passion and purpose, the business will fail.
A purpose answers the question, “Why does the company exist?”
In 2013, Southwest announced their purpose, “to connect people to what’s important in their lives through friendly, reliable, and low-cost air travel.”
Know where you’re going and why you’re going there.
In the first four years of Southwest’s existence, they were taken to court multiple times by different companies for different reasons, and they would go to court plenty more times the following decade. They swam when it seemed hopeless—and they stayed afloat.
Every business, especially new ones, will hit roadblocks along the way. It’s inevitable. You’re left with two options—quit or persist.
You know the saying, “It’s not what happens to you, but how you react to it that matters.”
The point of this article isn’t to glorify an airline, but rather to inspire you to think about the possibilities of an idea, and how to potentially identify the ones worth seeing through. We all have ideas, it’s what we do with them that makes the difference.