While the exploration of ideas is a consistent theme in this blog, I felt it was important to drive home a point that is often overlooked when drumming up new ideas or starting new businesses. And that is that execution and monetization of an idea is where the real value lies. There are an immeasurable number of ideas out there, and good ones at that, which will never see the light of day. The ability to execute is why so many good ideas never make it and so many bad ones do. Ideas are great and I encourage you to never stop creating them, but face it folks, execution is where it’s at. Anyone can be an idea person, but if you can’t bring it to life, it’s really of little value other than the pleasure you get from thinking it up.
Where this really becomes a sore spot is when someone wants to build a business out of their idea. All too often, “idea people” want too much ownership or revenue from their idea while failing to possess the skills necessary to bring it to life. Sometimes that bridge can be gapped but in most cases if you really want your idea to take off, you have to be prepared to give up a lot of the money to see that happen. It’s important to also remember that giving up money doesn’t necessarily mean giving up control but be prepared to give up some of that too. At the end of the day, if you are nothing more than the idea person and wind up with 3% – 10% of the bounty, you’re doing pretty well. If you are able to also help bring the idea to life, you’ll likely wind up with more but keep your expectations in check.
Always remember, it’s better to own 5% of something than 100% of nothing. Here are a few thoughts that might help keep you grounded as you set out to bring your ideas to life:
1. Focus on ideas that are in an area you know, you’ll have better luck knowing what the need really is and of having the ability to contribute to executing on the idea. So, if your idea is for the next generation of social networking websites but you can’t even spell HTML, be prepared to give up some ownership.
2. Be diligent in working with people who have the skills you don’t and compensate them well.
3. Don’t be a tyrant. It might be your baby but other people may be very good at expanding an idea even if they didn’t think it up to begin with.
4. Work with people you can trust. I can’t emphasize this enough.
5. Be prepared to work 12 hours a day 7 days a week if you really want to make it. If it’s a labor of love, you probably won’t mind anyway.
The reality is that most of the hard work and true art is in the execution, not in the idea; so, if the idea is what you bring to the table, great. It might start a business or product, but be satisfied with not owning the whole thing. Trust me, if you have thought of it, odds are someone else has too so learn to execute if you want to win the game.
As an added thought, if you just want to be an idea person and don’t want the rest of the hassle and are willing to accept a less ownership, consider licensing your ideas to people or companies that will run with them. You might only get a modest percentage but it takes the work off of you beyond a prototype.