I don’t know who started the concept of the million dollar idea, but it’s time for it to end. I know there are so many people throughout the world, myself included, who have wasted countless hours trying to come up with one. Unfortunately, it’s a complete myth. If ideas were worth a million dollars, there would be a lot more millionaires in the world today. Plenty of ideas that no one would have thought would make a million dollars have since gone on to make billions, but the ideas themselves were really a dime a dozen. Yes, even really good ideas are not worth all that much – because they’re just ideas.
To make ideas become reality involves a huge investment of time, talent, and money. That’s what’s worth a million dollars. Ideas are less than 1% of the work. Making the ideas reality is the other 99+%. It blows my mind when people get annoyed because they just heard about a new product or service that they thought of years before. Congratulations! You did less than 1% of the work to make that product or service a reality. You thought of the idea, but you didn’t make it happen. There’s no reason to be jealous of someone else who did!
Don’t act like they stole your idea. Don’t even make the mistake of thinking you were close to making that idea a reality, but you just didn’t act quick enough. The fact is, you were miles away from making any money off that idea. You think of excuses – you didn’t have the time, or the money, or you didn’t know the right people. Some of those things might be partially true, but the biggest reason someone beat you to making that idea a reality is because they were willing to risk a lot to make it happen.
No one wants to waste their time doing something they think won’t amount to anything. It doesn’t matter if you’re rich or poor. No one wants to do things they think will fail. So, someone else believed in the idea more. More importantly, they believed in themselves more, and they made it happen.
Ideas themselves are like seeds. If you wanted to go to the store and buy some apples, you wouldn’t go to the outdoor section and get apple seeds. Those are worthless to you if you don’t intend to grow them into a tree and have your apples years later. Hearing someone complain about how they thought of iPhones before they existed or how they thought of Twitter before it was a thing is like hearing someone complain about being hungry because they only buy seeds at the store and they have nothing to eat.
I’m not saying people should act on every idea they have. In fact, I’m saying that if you don’t act on an idea, that ok. You didn’t lose anything, because the idea by itself isn’t worth anything. If everyone acted on every idea they ever had, they’d probably have enough to do to be busy for a lifetime after thinking of ideas for just 30 minutes. So, if you ever find yourself down because you just wish you could think of that million dollar idea, remember that ideas are cheap. Penny for your thoughts is actually pretty generous, I’d say.
Next time you think you have a million dollar idea, try this. Actually think of what you would have to do to make that happen. Think of the time it would take, the people you would have to hire, the companies you would have to contract with to handle different aspects of the business. Think of how big of a financial investment it would be. Think of the risk involved. If you have another “million dollar idea” while you’re pursuing this one, it’ll have to wait. That one will have to go on the shelf until you’re done with this one. Are you willing to make that commitment? Are you willing to take on all that risk? If so, great! Go for it! I don’t want anyone to think I’m trying to discourage people from making their ideas a reality, but I do want to discourage people from thinking that they have apples when all they have are apple seeds.
If you ever feel like you had a great idea that someone else beat you to, think about those commitments, that investment, and that risk. It’s easy to look at successful people after their success and see their accomplishments, but they didn’t start out knowing they would succeed. They were probably scared at the beginning. They might still be scared. Bringing any idea into reality creates doubt, there are moments of wondering what will happen if none of it works out. Even the most confident people in the world get that thought in their head sometimes.
If you think about that, do you think you still would’ve followed through with your idea? Do you feel like you could have handled the constant doubt and kept going every day? Take a step back, let your ego take a break, and realize that what someone else achieved was a great accomplishment. Even if you had the exact same idea years ago, remember that they are the ones that made it happen. If anything, you should feel good about yourself! You should feel proud that you had an idea someone else thought was so good they were willing to risk a lot and commit a significant portion of their lives to making it happen.
Anyway, not every idea that makes millions is a good idea. The inventor of the pet rock made $15 million. His idea was that you could keep a rock as a pet. Someone else had the idea of putting water in plastic bottles and selling it. That’s now a multi-billion dollar industry. There are tons of dumb ideas that made lots of money: furbees, tickle me elmo, hula hoops, scannerz, PT cruisers, chokers, silly putty, Twitter, teenage mutant ninja turtles, and the list goes on. Does that make them million dollar ideas? Absolutely not, they were just dumb ideas at some point. Dumb ideas that somebody decided to go all in on. On second thought, teenage mutant ninja turtles was an awesome idea. Forget I said that one.
At least one person probably staked their entire reputation and career on every single one of these ideas. Does this mean every idea is worth taking a risk on? No, but it does mean that the next time you hear someone complain about how someone else made millions off an idea they had, I hope you’ll stop to think about it. Encourage them to think a little harder about it too because it’s a ridiculous thing to get upset or jealous about. It’s like getting upset that someone had a better marathon time than you when you didn’t even run the marathon. It’s like getting mad at someone for being fit because you thought about lifting a weight once. You did less than 1% of the work, so it’s crazy to get down on yourself or upset at someone else who did 100% of the work.
Just to be clear, I’m using the term “1%” very figuratively here. If someone made $1 million off an idea you had, your idea was nowhere near 1% of that. That would be $10,000. The idea itself was probably closer to 0.000001% of the work, which in the case of a million dollars, is 1 penny. So, there you go, penny for your thoughts. Next time you have an idea you really like, do the other 99.999999% of the work.