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Do you have more ideas for new projects than you can keep up with? Or are you waiting for the million dollar idea to quit your job?

How many times did you see a new object/software/thingy being released to the world and think “Damn! I thought about that! Why didn’t I do it?”?

The 260-million sales idea

zen garden
photo credit: Eddi 07

If you have a really great, innovative idea, you can surely create a new market, crush the dull competition, and make billions in revenue in only a decade.

Take the iPod for example, it seems like everyone and their mother have one or two. 260 millions units sold since the launch of the first, Mac-only, iPod on October 23, 2001.

Even their competitors have to agree Apple did an awesome job, putting thousands of songs in our hand. And they succeeded because they came up with the idea first.

Or did they?

In 1996, Audio Highway announced the first ever portable MP3 player, Listen Up, which was released in 1997. Then came  Saehan’s MPMan, Diamond’s Rio and Compaq’s Personal Jukebox in 98 and Creative’s Nomad in 2000.

Apple entered the market after most of its competitors in 2001. And they still took most of the market share (72.7% in 2007). How did they do it?

Making an idea real

Was there a new, killer idea/feature in the iPod which justified such success? Did the iPod do more than the Rio for example?

Not really.

Their success came from great implementation and marketing of an idea, and creating the eco-system to make it flourish (in that case, great design and iTunes).

Don’t think they just got lucky, they did the same thing with the iPhone, then again with the iPad, taking everybody by surprise with a brilliant implementation when the competition was fighting over average.

Yes, being the first to market can be useful, but if you can change quickly, which is the case on the Internet and in small businesses, it’s better to work on the implementation. You don’t even need to release all the features at first, make a subset of features, only the core, but make the experience great and attractive. Remember, the first iPod required a Mac to work, had no store and no touchscreen.

Having the vision

I’m not saying an idea isn’t important, it is.

But it is important because it allows you to have a vision and get motivated to implement that vision.

The vision itself is more important than the product. Only the product is required in the market place, but it is the vision that creates success.

The vision will keep you going when it’s hard, and the implementation (the product) is the structure you need in order to go forward and share the vision.

Opening new perspectives

If you give too much weight to any idea, it’ll be very difficult to change course when something isn’t working, or to seize new opportunities, because you’ll be too attached to your first, “perfect”, idea.

Ideas should be free-flowing, coming and going, when it makes sense and you’re passionate about an idea, act on it, but leave room for new ideas to come to you anyway. An idea loses value with new discoveries.

Being Passionate

The value of an idea is found in how passionate you are to make it a reality. If you are passionate about bringing your idea to more people, while still be open to change it as you go along, it will grow enough to take a life of its own. You’ll end up simply serving the idea and the greater good.

Be careful not to fool yourself, you can have a great idea, but without implementation, it isn’t worth a dime. And if you’re waiting for the killer idea, remember that a good idea with a killer implementation will trump a great idea with a bad one any day of the week.

What’s the idea you’re passionate about enough to make real?