Giving Away Ideas

Today, I’m thinking about ideas and the following questions.

  • What is an idea?
  • Does an idea matter if you can’t or won’t execute on an it?
  • What is an idea worth?
  • What are the risks and rewards of giving ideas away?

What is an idea?

A Google search defines the word, idea, as a thought or suggestion as to a possible course of action.
Does an idea matter if you can’t or won’t execute on it?

It depends. I try to practice generating ideas everyday by making lists based on different topics like businesses I could start tomorrow. I picked up this habit from James Altucher. I come up with a lot of ideas I never execute on because most of those ideas are worthless or things I’m not going to execute on. If you don’t execute the idea is worthless but this practice makes every idea worth something. These ideas I don’t execute on are helping me exercise my mind and improve my ability to generate more and better ideas.

What is an idea worth?

If you don’t execute on an idea it’s technically, in terms of money, worth nothing. The practice of creating lists might be worth something in sweat equity but they have no monetary value. The best ideas are worth nothing with no or poor execution. Poor ideas can be worth a great deal with excellent execution.

Look at Uber for example. A few years ago, I can’t imagine many college grads wanted to join a startup in the taxi or people transportation business. Then Uber came along and executed on a simple idea of giving people another option of transportation. Now they’re one of the hottest companies. I imagine almost any college grad would love an opportunity to work there.

What are the risks and rewards of giving ideas away?

It depends. The cost can be nothing, such as a bad idea or idea not executed, or billions, such as the guys who lost/got stolen their idea for a Harvard social network that eventually became Facebook. A lot of people like to say Mark Zuckerberg stole their idea but could those brothers have executed on Facebook like Mark? I doubt it. They didn’t invent the social network and it would have either never gotten off the ground or been successful.

An idea you  either can’t or won’t be executed on is worth nothing until somebody can execute on it.  Giving away an idea is your call. My choice is to give them away if I’m unable to execute on them and I know somebody in a better position than I.  You never know that good idea could someday lead to something else.  No good deed goes unnoticed. The ideas you choose to give away will help build your trail and also extend it’s path.