Relax, your idea won't work

Have you got an idea swirling around your head and you're wondering if it could work? Maybe an idea for a business or a book or some other project?

Have you been thinking about this for a while, holding off on getting started until you know your idea will work - that you can do it, make money out of it, or get a book deal?

Well, let me put your mind at ease.

You can stop worrying because I can tell you that your idea almost certainly won’t work… at least not in exactly the form you’re thinking of right now. If it would work straight off the bat, exactly as you imagined it, without any obstacles to get around, someone would have done it by now.

Because there are 7 billion people on this planet and the chances that your idea has never flitted across the mind of any one of those people (making your idea one in 7 billion) are pretty low.

The reality is that it's not your initial idea but how you make it work that really matters. And if your original idea doesn't work at all, it's your willingness to change it as much as is necessary to make it work.

And this is good news. Because now you don't need to wait any longer.

Now you know that if you have an idea that you think has some value, you can find a way to launch it in a scaled-down way and get started immediately. Then the real adventure, and the real value in what you do, is in how you execute your idea and make it work – and that means working around the obstacles, and improving your idea until people love it.

Every winning idea has to go through this journey. When Anita Roddick opened the first Body Shop in Brighton in 1976, two neighbouring funeral parlors initially objected to the shop's name. Rather than give up on her distinctive brand name or go hunting for new premises, Roddick fought back by suggesting to a local newspaper that she was a woman entrepreneur under siege. The publicity generated traffic to the store and helped her on her first step towards the global success she later attained.

What idea have you been holding off on starting? Are you ready to put it into action? Leave a comment and let us know...

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  • Hello John,
     I really agree with what you are saying in this post. I really put off things way too long for exactly these reasons. But now, following the great advice from your book, I have made my small start, made of little baby-steps. I have my blog online now, combining things that make me come alive: art, design, film-making, music, food, storytelling, travelling, world cultures, and so on... and I'm putting it all into my blog and getting it out there, with one or two of my things already for sale on my website: my book on blurb, and prints of my art works on saatchi-online. This week I have been blogging about burger recipes for sea-monsters, and recently I was blogging about temples in China. It's a lot of fun. I think this approach will really help my direction and my strategies to evolve; and it's just a great feeling to be out there doing something, rather than just dreaming. Once again, thanks a lot John for your great, inspiring ideas.

  • Julieconnelly

    well the devil is in the detail! and don't say the devil aint your friend!
    I know that one idea leads to another and nothing is written in stone.
    we all have to be flexible and make it up as we go along. am still reading the book, I borrowed from the library.. i have a day off to work on some blog ideas etc... it's a bit scary not really knowing what I'm doing with my website idea but I feel ok that at least I have ideas....

  • Projects undergo evolutions and that is the interesting bit - they become bigger than you could have imagined and more fun if your are open to it. Thanks for the post John. Happy Australia. 

  • Yes, yes yes. You'll never know if you really like something, or if it's going to work, unless you try it. it took me ages to really get that, but since I did things have moved on well

  • Cillabella

    Question about the 30 day plan!!  Should I be asking for a week off and buying a ticket to London?  How much is this going to cost??  Just so I can get organised because, like many other people I'm sure, I have dependents.  (3 kids to put through studies)  This is the excuse I'm using to put things off, even though I know somewhere that I can make even more money than I am at this 9 to 6... save me save me save me from this squeeeze...

  • Lourdes

     Hello John,
    For the longest time I've wanted to do work I love in music and in working with animals.  I'd actually like to do both part-time if that's possible and get paid for it.  I like the work I currently do but it just doesn't pay enough and I don't see myself doing it for the rest of my life.  Well maybe I can incorporate it once a week with my main loves because I really do enjoy doing my current work.  I run a food pantry in NYC which helps people to get groceries for free.  I really like my job but as I mentioned before my first loves were always music and animals and my current job really doesn't pay that much.  I always wanted to do something in music but as an adolescent I was discouraged by my parents.  Sometimes I hear some of their "top dog" comments in my head and I'm finished even before I start.  Also, my beloved niece being in the hospital has made me postpone a lot of the action I could have been doing all the time to make these goals come true as well as the death of my mother a couple of years ago which just turned my world upside down.  Many times family situations can just drain you.  I don't want to use it as an excuse to mask my fear of doing it.  I worked as a temp in the corporate world and even in the music industry behind the scenes but I must be honest I hated it!  Ugh!  Definitely don't want to go back to ever doing that!  I felt like the kid looking in at all the candy in the candy store window and feeling I could never get the candy if you know what I mean.  Don't ever want to go back to working for anyone else in an industry I can't stand!  I'm in my early 50s now and I think that some of those dreams I had in my teens and 20s and 30s and even 40s are long gone.  But sometimes I really want to go back to my old loves.  So what do you suggest?
    I could go to one of those Scanners Nights because London is one of my favorite cities but I'm all the way across the Atlantic in good old USA. 

  • I wonder if what you really need right now is just to do some more of what you love, irrespective of where it might lead? It could give you the lift you need at the moment...

  • Hi, the 30 Day Challenge is something you can take part in from anywhere in the world. What is it you are thinking of doing as a 30 day project?

  • Ah well, none of us really know what we're doing when we're starting something new!

  • Hi Michael, glad to hear you're putting stuff out there!

  • Anonymous

    Hello John, thanks for your inspiring post! Here's a short oversea comment from Amsterdam. As a designer/artist I always wonder why one artist is successful and the other isn't. Maybe this is the key: it's not that much about the quality of their work, it's about having the guts to put their art out there in the big scary world. And to keep pushing through all the obstacles (and I still believe: a little luck is needed too).

  • Hi Melissa, yes I think putting the work out is a huge part of it. Someone suggested that perhaps one of the reasons Picasso was so superb was the sheer number of artworks he created.
    And the more you create and put it out there, the luckier you get!

  • Catherine Bishop

    Hi John, as always you and Marianne spur me on!  I've had an idea for a website which basically would save time when searching for substitute yarns which as I am a knitter with limited time and money would be great.  The idea is to search by a number of filters which would show all the yarns available and which online yarn shops stock them (there are over 300 in the UK not including those on ebay).  The idea received a generally positive response from knitters on Ravelry (facebook for knitters) but I think it's going to be one of those ideas which needs to be played out first.  I have a blog which I'd like to use to start promoting the idea, I'm just not sure about where to start.  At the end of February I stop working full time and will work 4 days instead.  It would be great to have a plan to work on.  Yours hopefully!

  • Sounds interesting Catherine. Can you get the data from them all to make it work?

  • Catherine Bishop

    The simple answer to that is I don't know.  There is another group on Ravelry specifically for yarn shop owners and I think I need to put the idea to them.  One of the people who responded first time round was a yarn shop owner and she didn't relish the idea of uploading data to the internet twice which is understandable.  Yarndex is a US site which kinda does what I want to do but only links to their sister site Yarnmarket whereas I'd like to see all the retailers up there.  I still think there's an opportunity with this but I need to find a way of starting small and getting people onboard as I go along.

  • Sounds like it could work. Definitely one to play out as you say because it might lead somewhere else interesting!

  • Cillabella

    I would like to organise a week's summer camp for grown ups in my country house with activities just like for kids when you send them off. Each week could be a different theme, such as painting and/or drawing during the day, all cooking together or in groups of 3 per day, everyone has to participate in clean-up, dorm-type sleeping arrangements, and a dance party on the last night (at least).  This would allow me to indulge in all my different interests, including being with people, being in my country house, and doing a variety of activities.  I also hope this could bring in some cash if I can do it for 3 months per year. 

  • Can you be any more specific about what the challenge involves and how much it costs? I have a job and two young children so time and money are very much my barriers and no amount of reading is going to magic those things from nothing!