I have an idea that could be as big as Facebook/Google/Snapchat. I figure it could be worth a billion. How can I sell my idea?
I hate this. I hate, hate, hate, hate, hate this.
It’s a question that seems to pop up on every entrepreneur Facebook group and in every meet-up. It’s a question asked by every person who thinks that start ups are like a lottery with better odds. And it’s a question that demonstrates a total ignorance about business & building shit.
It’s all about looking for a silver bullet.
A sure-fire way to transform an idea into something tangible, something that can make money with minimum effort.
The thought is, as long as I can come up with an incredible idea, I have an asset that can be turned into money by someone else. It’s a get-rich-quick scheme.
Unfortunately, ideas are cheap. Ideas are easy. Ideas come to everyone, a dozen times a day. And at their core, no matter how good any one of those ideas is, it’s not worth a cent.
And you want to somehow sell your idea to a big tech company? Let me tell you this.
At their core, every billion dollar company is just a good idea executed well. Google is an advertising company. With a search engine idea jacked from Yahoo & a dozen other companies. Facebook is MySpace, sans glitter gifs. Snapchat is a camera app. None of those ideas are billion dollar ideas. They’re good concepts, executed well, by skilled people who were enthusiastic enough to get it done.
But if you’re looking for an easy way to turn your idea into a hit, what you’re really enthusiastic about is money. You don’t actually care about turning what you’ve dreamed up into a product or a company.
If you truly think your idea is worth something, there is only one thing to do. Build it. You have to put in the time, energy to and effort to build whatever it is and turn it into a reality. Yourself.
You have to dedicate years of your life to it and focus on it every day, alongside your day job or your main projects or whatever it is you do. You have to forget about the idea of getting rich quick, because let me tell you, it’s not going to happen.
You have to learn how to run a company.
At the end of all that, the chances are, your idea won’t even be the same one you started out with. It’s probably going to be something completely different, with a long path of evolution and revision behind it.
So What Should You Do With Your Idea?
I don’t know. That’s up to you. You can give up on it, or work on it, but there’s no other option. I will tell you this: success in business is about work. Really, that’s the secret weapon of every entrepreneur who has ever turned what she thought up into her life’s journey.
For the people who are prepared to put in the work, ideas are worth something — they fuel the fire.
But for the people who don’t want to work, for the poor schmo who just wants a lucky day…your billion dollar idea ain’t worth a cent.
Because you won’t build it.
[This post by Jon Westenberg first appeared on Medium and has been reproduced with permission.]