I spend a lot of time talking to people who have ideas. It’s part of my job, but it’s also something I do just as a hobby. I like riffing and expanding, clarifying and strategizing. I also like giving away my ideas.
A friend and I were talking through a business idea she had. It was a really good one, something that would solve a huge need in a way that it seems no one else is solving it.
“It seems so duh, no brainer,” she said. “Maybe I should stop telling people about it.”
Nope, wrong answer. And the reason why is: ideas are cheap.
Anyone can come up with an idea. They don’t involve commitment or effort or investment. They’re just ideas, after all.
Anyone can steal your idea. Hell, anyone can probably come up with your idea at the same time you do.
The likelihood that someone you give an idea to will run with it and actually make something out of it is tiny. If my track record of giving away ideas over the past 10–15 years is any indication, you can probably expect about 1–5% of the ideas you give away to actually materialize. Most will always remain sitting in someone else’s head, something they ponder once in a while, and then do absolutely nothing about.
If your idea is so great, so amazing, then what you really need to do is to work to make it a reality. If it’s just an idea, and an idea you just bat around but don’t act on, it probably wasn’t that great an idea in the first place. Or, maybe it is a good idea — but a good idea for someone else who does have the passion and the energy to work to make it happen. And if it’s a great idea, then you should be working on it. Right?
In the meantime, it’s just an idea. Having a good idea isn’t winning. Making something amazing out of a good idea is.