Monetize your ideas – But not too fast!

October 7th, 2010 § 1

This post has been jumping back into my thoughts for sometime over the past few months. As a young business professional who has seen both sides of success I feel it is something that people (especially young people) should read and consider. Over the weekend I saw the movie “The Social Network” and while much of the movie was completely fiction there was at least one part in there that was true beyond a reasonable doubt. Mark Zuckerberg turned down a 1 billion dollar offer to acquire his company (facebook) while it was still in its infancy.

Now certainly Mark is the exception not the rule although one thing he did right was that he believed in his idea, and he believed in shaping facebook to his vision for the future. But perhaps most importantly, he did not let money taint his vision. Over the past few decades thousands of companies started off with bright futures only to be bought out by the companies who already ruled the market. This phenomenon is mainly because of two reasons. First, smaller companies and people just starting typically only have a limited supply of money in the beginning. Without either angel funding or investment from VC’s many of the world’s great ideas are destined to fail. Second, these small companies are often afraid if they do not sell the larger companies will simply try to become a competitor and end up winning the long term battle for customers and/or money. While that might be the case occasionally, what most great entrepreneurs know is that the first one with the idea typically wins. Zuckerberg knew that facebook had gained too much traction by clinging on to a niche market (Colleges) and running with the generation as they came into their own as professionals. Maybe he did not know how big it would become, or even that some would consider it a phenomenon, but certainly he knew that facebook was bigger than just Mark Zuckerberg.

I live my life by a quote of one of my favorite figures: Steve Jobs. He said:

“The people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones that actually do.”

I can think of no better example of this being true than Steve himself. He founded Apple computers against all odds in the 70’s and after some initial success and doing the corporate thing (taking on investors, appointing a board of directors, etc.) he got sideways with the board of directors, and the company he started did the unthinkable. They fired him! However, Steve (After moping for a period of time I am sure) did not give up. He went on to found two highly successful companies. Pixar, which is now owned by Disney and the company responsible for creating some of the highest grossing animated films of all time. And NEXT, a company eventually acquired by Apple allowing Steve to have his job as CEO back and the Mac OSX operating system to be born.

The point to this post is that all things truly do happen for a reason. People have great ideas every day, but society is such that more often than not we believe we cannot accomplish these goals because we have our work cut out for us. Just because something is hard does not mean it is not worth it. Don’t give up on your idea or settle for an offer that will not do your ideas justice. Work for what you have, and believe in your ideas. Money is important, but if you allow money to become a side affect of what you do, instead of the end goal you will become inherently more successful.

Money might “make the world go ’round”, but without the ideas and concepts driving people to spend it we would be stuck in a miserable cycle. So I challenge you. Next time you think of a new idea or start a new business, try to monetize it, but do it in a way which is carefully planned out. Allow your ideas to conceptualize before selling them off to let someone else reap the benefits.

and by all means remember what steve said!

The people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones that actually do.

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