Your Big Idea is Not Enough

When my friend Bill sold his consulting business, he retired. But not really. A true creator/maker, his brain generates a ton of ideas on the regular. So much so, it was impossible for him to NOT keep inventing or thinking of new products or services. 

So, he developed a system. Any time he thinks he has an especially worthy idea he writes it down and puts the slip of paper on his desk in a box. Because he is exceptionally wise and kind, many entrepreneurs and budding entrepreneurs seek out his advice. From time to time he will meet someone who he thinks matches one of his ideas and he reaches into his box and shares the idea. His only ask – that the recipient of his idea takes it and runs with it – doing everything they can to make that business or invention happen. If they promise to do that, he will jump right in and help them with their project or their business.

When I asked him why he was giving away all his ideas, he said, “Those ideas in my box are just slips of paper until someone decides to do something with them.”

More than one of my clients has told me, “I have more ideas than I can ever implement.”

I believe the entrepreneurial equivalent of ‘the road to hell is littered with good intentions’ is ‘the road to nowhere is strewn with great ideas never implemented.’

It is much easier to fall in love with the big idea than the path to making that idea real. And it’s easy to see why. When we read about other people’s businesses, so much time is spent on how the business was started or where the idea for the product came from. And then suddenly, it seems, we are at the point where the person or business is successful. The middle (or the work) is truncated like time lapse photography.

I love working with visionary leaders. It is truly fun to see their wheels churn and their ideas come to life. But often, once they “see it”, the excitement of making it actually happen goes away because they aren’t equally passionate about making it happen. Similarly, I think this is why they often become frustrated with their teams and the implementation process – the reality of making it happen rarely matches the vision they have in their head.

What if we embraced the “middle” – the part where we stumble and figure things out? What if we could find almost equal excitement and reward for the journey as well as the destination? 

My friend Bill is a great example of having done this. His consulting business was not really all that extraordinary and yet he sold it at a premium. He was able to do that because he embraced the “middle” by documenting every aspect of his business and making it turnkey. The fact that he had a vision for where he wanted his business to grow didn’t deter him from doing some of the things he didn’t like, it actually encouraged him because he knew it would grow his business and allow him to generate MORE ideas. 

My challenge to you is this – the next time you find yourself waning when you need to make something happen in your business, ask yourself a question. Is there just one way you could make that process a little more enjoyable or find more meaning in the journey? The journey doesn’t have to be a slog and the destination doesn’t need to be your only goal.

Have a great week!