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Million Dollar Ideas

By Steve Scheidecker -- Get free updates of new posts here

Two weeks ago while visiting the in-laws, my son Grant was on the floor eating some Cheerios out of cup designed specially for babies.  The cup is made in a way that helps to prevent Cheerios from ending up in a pile on the floor (well, sometimes).  My mother in-law thought the cup was amazing and reflected on how a simple addition of several rubber flaps could so drastically improve a product for children. The product seemed so simple that anyone could of thought of it, and it was right then that the words came out, “If only I had thought of that idea I’d be a millionaire.

The attitude that ideas foster wealth is prevalent in our society, people are led to think that a moment of brilliance is all that it takes.  People even go to extremes to protect their sacred ideas through NDA’s, absurd patents, or legal action.  I cannot count the number of times I have heard someone tell me that they have a great idea — an idea that is going to change the world — only they can’t tell me about it yet because the idea is so good that someone else may copy it.  Where are most of those “innovators” a year later?  They aren’t out shopping for a Bentley.  They are almost always on to their next top secret idea because they had a new idea that was even better than last years.  And what if you ask them about their old idea?  Well, its still a secret because they may need something to fall back on.

Over the years thousands of ideas have crossed my mind, I have even seen some of these ideas create immense amounts of wealth for other people.  This may sound bold, but I have thought of hundreds of million dollar ideas.  Maybe the checks are just lost in the mail, but to date those ideas have never yielded a penny.  There has never been an idea alone that has created a single dollar of wealth for anyone.  In fact, ideas usually do just the opposite by distracting us from what is actually building our personal and professional wealth.

Ideas only become valuable when they are put in motion and this requires significant effort.  Even if your idea does not suck (and there is a 95% probability it does) there are thousands of things that need to happen before the idea has any value.  Ask yourself one question, is the idea so good that I will move significant company and/or personal resources to pursue it?  And I’m not talking about reallocating resources sometime down the road, I’m talking now — in the next two weeks.  If your not willing to devote immediate attention to your idea then how valuable is it?  And if your one of those protective types that is protecting your ideas but not pursuing them, what is it that you are protecting the ideas from?

Bottom-line, there is no such things as a million dollar idea.  What then should you do with your ideas?  You have three options.

(1)  Ignore it. If you don’t plan to pursue the idea with full force right now — in the next two weeks — forget it.  Don’t even write the idea down!  If the idea is good enough that you may pursue it on some rainy day then you shouldn’t need a written note to remember it.  If your not investing resources into the idea don’t let it distract you from your productive activities.

(2)  Protect it. If you feel your idea is so great that there is no way you will share it with anyone you are in for a rough road and will almost certainly fail.  You need to find significant amounts of capital immediately and invest all your available resources into getting the product to market.  You will need to hire lawyers, hire patent attorneys, get signed NDA’s, and monitor the flow of all information from your entity.  If you can’t find a way to both protect your idea and get it to market within six months, you should forget it completely.

(3)  Share it. Tell everyone about your idea and get feedback.  Getting multiple perspectives may open your eyes before going down a path to failure.  Or, sharing may yield the supporting persons you need to get your idea off the ground.  You will be amazed at how insightful people can be when you open up your idea to them, and I do not mean with a NDA or other strings attached.

3 Responses so far.

  1. Joe says:

    I think a lot of people have ideas just like you said, I do to like at least 10 a day :) but never really been into money because again just like you said…if my idea is to make money out of it, ill never pursue it.

    Another problem is that people don’t set goals, they come up with idea and 24hrs later nothing!

    Why not set a small goals like:

    24hrs ill write my idea on peace of paper
    72hrs ill make sure to research my idea online
    115hrs ill take my research and idea and combine them together
    1month later ill make sure my idea gets finalized with all things..

    etc…

    Great post!

    Btw my idea is to fall a sleep at 10 and wake up at 6 :) but I never do it…its 2am!

  2. Matt Rittman says:

    Great post Steve! Love the photos too :)

  3. Steve Scheidecker says:

    Thanks Joe, like your take on this and insight on goal setting. I agree that it is important to set goals for your ideas, without some plan on where you will take a idea it is just a distraction. This post was really aimed at myself, ideas can quickly distract me from productive things that I am doing.

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