Some people have more ideas than they know what to do with. While this sounds great on the surface, having too many ideas can be something that inhibits success. The “idea guy” is someone who is on the never ending treadmill of being unable to transform ideas into successful actions.
As entrepreneurs, “idea guys” can be frustrating to work with. Most entrepreneurs have ideas, but to be successful, unless you are in a planning stage you should be executing.
I had a colleague once that everyone called “Big Plans”. He was constantly coming up with new ideas and asking for money. His ideas often never got of the ground. He was able to run a successful business but when it came time to expand — his lack of planning resulted in many half baked attempts.
“Big Plans” made about 500k a year. He had a house, a nice car, vacationed a few times a year, but it wasn’t enough. He was always insecure about his business, so he hired managers — “took himself off the ladder” — and became a full-time “idea guy”.
For the decade I knew him — he never seemed to get ahead even though he made a ton of money. The problem was he couldn’t shut his mind down. He would rather chase something new that he knew nothing about than invest more into what he did know.
Eventually he began distinguishing dream from reality. Instead of investing a few hundred grand a year in losing businesses — he began speaking of more practical things like expanding the business he was in.
Being an “idea guy” does not mean you you are an inadequate thinker. It simply means you are an undisciplined thinker. Success as an entrepreneur isn’t measured in ideas — its measured in execution. You don’t need to waste a decade learning this the hard way — harnessing your brain is easier than you think.
Steve Jobs once said “Ideas are worth nothing unless executed”.
Ideas are not a bad thing — but if you are an “idea guy” and you want to succeed, you need to adapt. Do what ever you need to do to discipline your mind, make plans and stick to them.
If you are an “idea guy” all is not lost. It is still possible to be extremely successful.
How To Survive Being An “Idea Guy”
- Don’t ask anyone you care about for money — ever.
- Don’t pitch your colleagues, customers or anyone you are going to continue talking to.
- Assume you only have one chance to ever really pitch an idea to someone.
- Pay attention to the idea that’s actually making you money.
- Write your ideas down — all of them.
- Schedule a date on your calendar to revisit some of the idea’s you have written down — write down your initial reaction to your ideas. Revisit your ideas at another time and see what your reaction is like then. A good idea is always a good idea.
- Your ideas are valuable but probably too plentiful — people get frustrated because they do not understand your process. Be aware of this, try to only share a limited number of ideas that you’ve heavily researched!
The “idea guy” is usually the one pitching for money. When you’re a pitcher it’s very important to not sell to your close relationships constantly. They are your closest allies in business. They are the people who will lend you money for your primary business if you ever need it. If you burn out this network and people start saying “oh great, another idea” then your brand as a person is tarnished.
Business itself is a lot more like a boring math class than a creative, spiritual, existential, journey. You may love what you do — but that doesn’t mean you love the minutia.
If you want to run a business and you don’t want to fail — you need to realize the difference between a pivot and a whim. The business should largely be run based on your business plan and subsequent action plans. It sounds terribly boring because it is – but you need to plan effectively in order execute.
Creative people have always had a difficult time with the execution part of business.
Ideas are necessary but they are like opinions — everyone has at least one. Taking an idea a step forward, doing proper research, and writing a plan, not only makes you look more credible —it will help you refine your ideas into quality plans backed by research.
A well thought out and researched business plan isn’t a guess. Its not a best case scenario. It should be written with full knowledge of what lies ahead and how you are going to operate profitably. As things crop up — action plans are written to layout how a problem is going to be solved. The biggest mistake entrepreneurs make is making decisions that are crucial to the business without effective planning.
“Idea guys” are great Entrepreneurs when they are able to focus on each idea, run the numbers, and think it through. Separating ideas from ideas with merit can only be accomplished through planning and research.
Many entrepreneurs never master the art of planning. In a well run business — the plan runs the business. If you are at the center of a business with a plan — you’ve got all the ideas you need.