The Value of an Idea
As small business owners, or worse, as entrepreneurs, we are full of ideas. I joke with my friends that I get a great new idea about every 20 seconds. But what are they worth? When you come up with an idea for a business, a new way to market, or even just the idea to do something differently that you have always done, what is that worth? I would suggest that it is worthless. There is no value in an idea…absolutely none. If there was, I would be wealthy beyond all belief, and so would a lot of other people I know.
To illustrate, let me tell you about some of the great ideas I’ve had over the years. I thought when I was about six that there should be a way to use a power drill to screw in screws, instead of using a hand torque screw driver. At the time, there was no such thing as a Dewalt cordless drill. A few years ago, I thought it would be great if there was a way to make a strand of Christmas lights that used LED lights, instead of light bulbs. They last longer, and would be safer. They are making them now; I just saw them at Home Depot.
When I was in about 6th grade, I thought it would be awesome if I could bottle water from our lake house in Wisconsin and sell it back in Illinois, but who would pay for water? That was just silly. Have you heard of Fatheads? Yea, I thought of it. But someone else did to, and now I see their commercials on TV. There have been plenty more: from creating a whole house automation system, selling businesses like Realtors do, to websites that allow contractors to talk about dead beat customers, all have been done…by other people.
It is only the steps and actions, one takes, after the idea that has value, and sometimes these steps are not easy. In fact, most of the time, the steps are very hard. The difficulty in starting and running a company isn’t in the one or two really tough days we have, but it’s in being consistent; taking the steps to move forward and doing it day after day. We do the mundane and boring little things that create consistency that is not flashy or sexy that creates a really great business.
I will say that even though an idea does not have value; an idea PLUS ACTION does have worth. Everything I have ever done has started as an idea. But it by itself has no value. Take a step with your idea, see where it goes. Put a direction to your new marketing campaign; write it down and commit to it, then do it. I meet a lot of entrepreneurs that talk a great game. But until you apply some effort to your idea, you can just keep on talking.
Almost everyone I meet (and I would guess every one you meet), has an idea for a business they would love to start. Don’t just sit there, do something. Don’t be afraid. Don’t let others nay-say and talk you out of it. If it fails, then try again, or try tweaking your idea. Nothing great has ever happened without a little failure, and don’t be afraid of failing because that’s where we learn the most. After finding success with the incandescent light bulb, Thomas Edison is quoted as saying: “We now know a thousand ways not to build a light bulb.”
I think however, that people get stuck. They think it will take too long. It will be too expensive. I can’t give up my secure paycheck. Why not start on the weekends and evenings. Give up TV for 6 months, and work on the idea. Don’t wait until it is perfect. Take action…NOW!