“Idea” should really be a verb, because no idea is ever truly real until our inspiration has been turned into action.
No idea is ever a truly great idea until we actually do something with it.
I should know. I’ve had lots of ideas, but acted on very few.
Example: I graduated from college before the fitness boom. Combine aerobics classes and Easter egg spandex combinations and Schwarzenegger and Stallone and Jane Fonda and millions of people started to work out.
I saw an early Nautilus demo and thought, “Hey, there’s a real opportunity here. I should open a gym.” I thought about it a lot, scouted locations, talked to manufacturers and lenders… but thinking and planning was all I ever did.
30 years later I still feel a twinge of regret whenever I see a Gold’s or Crunch or Planet Fitness.
The same is true with computers. I owned one of the first Kaypro II “portables.” I was hardly a programmer but I did know more about computers than many people… and when IBM-compatible computers started to hit the market I thought seriously about opening a retail store. (Remember this was well before online computer sales became a gleam in Michael Dell’s eye.) One manufacturer was even willing to front most of the capital because they wanted to quickly establish storefront distribution channels.
While in retrospect the opportunity would have been relatively short-lived, for at least a decade that business might have thrived… if I had done more than just think about it, that is.
The list goes on. Years ago a friend recognised home healthcare was poised to take off and wanted us to go into business together. I thought about it a lot, helped refine his financials and flesh out his start-up plan… but I never pulled the trigger.
Today he has locations in 15 cities. The only connection I have with his business is that I will someday be a customer.
I can console myself by thinking that hindsight is always perfect and I had no way of knowing how those opportunities would turn out. But like most rationalizations, that’s only partly true. Even then I thought those ideas were great.
Instead of acting, though, I let “idea” be a noun instead of a verb. Getting into fitness or computers or home healthcare weren’t really ideas.
Ideas without action aren’t ideas. They’re regrets.
Every day would-be entrepreneurs let hesitation stop them from acting on an idea for a product or service or business. Every day people who want to try a different career let uncertainty stop them from trying to live their dreams. Fear of the unknown and fear of failure are what stopped me and may be what stops you, too.
Think about a few of the ideas you’ve had. How many of those ideas could have turned out great, especially if you had given your absolute best? A decent percentage?
That’s why we all need to trust our analysis, our judgment, and even our instincts a little more. We certainly won’t get it right all the time… but if we let “idea” stay a noun, we always get it wrong.
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