The short answer is always yes because charging after ideas is how we make progress. Choosing to not look for the answers to the questions our ideas ask keep us not just from personal evolution, but the advancement of humanity.
That feels good, right? Feel free to stop reading here and just breathe it in.
A more meaningful answer starts with acknowledging that the question is really just the ego looking for a little validation because you lack the confidence to move forward (or give up), and then is replaced by asking a better question like, “Should I pursue this idea?”. The answer to this question is much more complex and satisfying because it will leave you with clear action to take. Getting there requires more than just the idea and whether it is “good” or “bad”, it needs clarity about yourself and what you are trying to achieve. A very simple expression to answer it, using a scale of 100 looks like this:
(Passion + Resources)/(Sacrifices + Resources needed) x Reward > 50
Let’s say you have an idea that you are convinced is worth millions, but you lack the expertise to execute it, it will demand a lot of your spare time, and it isn’t something you are particularly passionate about.
(25 + 25)/(50 + 75) x 100 = 40 > 50
Passion, Sacrifices and Reward each get values up to 100, Resources on each side should total 100
In this case, our equation is false. As you can see, even the best payoff becomes difficult to justify without the passion and resources needed to overcome the sacrifices required. Conversely, if we had tons of passion for this same project, it would easily overcome the hurdles it presents. There are no shortage of ideas in the world, there is only a shortage of will and/or resources to execute them.
Let’s dig a bit deeper into the components that make up the equation. Passion is a bit of a double-edged sword, it can get you farther than you ever dreamed, but it can also take you out in a blink of an eye. In relation to our discussion of pursuing, or launching an idea, overdeveloped passion for your idea will most often serve you, so we’ll save the other side of that coin for another post.
Do we need to be passionate about ideas we pursue? Passion is an interesting measure—we can have enthusiasm for a variety of reasons, intellectual interest, a sense of adventure, aligned beliefs, rewards, and social acceptance. Knowing where your passion for an idea falls will help you gauge how much of it you have. While working with clients to help them actualize their ideas quickly, I place a lot of emphasis on “The Why” as a way to align purpose with passion and get real about what it will take. If thinking about why you are doing something gets you more jazzed than what you are doing, you are on the right track.
Resources includes anything you might need in order to get your idea to fruition: money, skills, people, perhaps machinery. In our equation the resources that you have and that you need are balanced and are relative to your idea. For example, if you want to sell your product online and you make the product yourself, plus have the skills to build the web storefront, your resources will be more heavily weighted on the left side of the equation. If you are trying to build an app idea you have, and have the money to get going, but none of the expertise to build or market, your resources will be more heavily weighted to the needs side.
Every endeavor has sacrifices and it is important to be as real about them as you are about your passion to move forward. Giving up your family, or health because you have a really great idea doesn’t really get you to the reward, even if you “succeed” (more on that in a minute). Engaging your idea with vigor requires time and energy at levels beyond what you are currently putting out. Just like starting a car, it takes far more energy to turn over the engine than it does to keep it in motion. Startups are often created in our twenties when we have lots of energy, resilience and fewer responsibilities. And while nearly 70% of entrepreneurs were married when they started their first business, 75% are now divorced, separated or widowed.
Your passion has pushed you through the sacrifices, you leveled up and got the people, equipment, product and skills you needed and you found your market before you ran out of capital or energy to keep it going. Nice job.
So what is the reward? Is this where we talk 10x returns, IPOs and M&As? Maybe, but before before you decide whether your idea is worth pursuing and dive in head first, ask yourself, “What do I want from this?”. The answer to that question is the reward, it is what you are playing for. If you made it through the gauntlet of entrepreneurship, what would it look like? Would you have a team, and an office? Would you be a solo-preneur with spending six-months a year traveling the world? Would you be selling your hard work to a bigger company and starting over? Visualize it clearly and in detail as if it were already done. Write it down. Now give it a value to enter into our equation. You may even find the reward value is low because you “just want to see it go”.
What was the result of your equation? I said in the beginning that the answer will leave you with clear action—if it is the real deal, you have to go after it and if it isn’t, you either need to move on, plug in your next idea and see how it scores, or figure out how to adjust your expectations, needs, or sacrifices to make it worthwhile.
Ideas are just thoughts, pursue them and the world benefits from not just the fruit of the idea, but the entire experience, the things learned from sacrifice and failure and the happiness we feel and bring to the world by succeeding. Choose not to pursue your idea and you will learn something about yourself, about creation and about how important your actual purpose is (you may even discover it in this process). The world benefits equally from that wisdom as well.