Ever since I can remember, I’ve been doodling on napkins, leaving notes for myself, even calling myself to leave voicemails with ideas that I had so I wouldn’t forget them. At one point, I even carried a mini tape recorder around with me to capture my latest ideas before they got away. I know, I know…I was super cool (you don’t need to tell me).
As I grew, so did the significance and importance of my ideas. I progressed from thinking up ways to make vegetables taste better to coming up with real solutions for the modern world. Aside from always looking for ways to make money using my unique skillset, I have always loved dreaming up new products to make my life easier.
One of my longest running projects, more than a few years back, was a minimalist wallet used to carry only the most essential items in your front pocket. I bought hundreds of feet of elastic cord to produce prototypes with, and tinkered with it for years before giving it up for a new project.
This new idea was a redesign of the traditional umbrella. It would close outward, not fold inward, to keep water from splashing all over you when you got into your car. After living in south Florida for a few years, I was sick and tired of getting water all over the inside of my car when closing an umbrella. So, my product was to be called the “IN-brella” – see what I did there (wink, wink)? The IN-brella would close away from the user and tuck neatly into a tube keeping all the water inside until it could be drained. Leaving you and the inside of your car dry!
I was so vested in the idea that I actually had plans and drawings ready to submit to a company called Quirky for consideration. But, when I heard that it would cost me a few bucks to submit my idea, I lost interest. I mean, would people even be interested in an umbrella what opens the wrong way? Maybe I was just crazy. So, I left the idea on the shelf and moved one.
More than 5 years later, I was scrolling through my Facebook newsfeed and saw this video:
Needless to say, my jaw hit the floor. I couldn’t believe it. My long lost idea had been developed into a real life product by SOMEONE ELSE!
Now, it’s entirely possible that they had this idea before me, but that’s not really what matters. What matters, is that someone DID SOMETHING with this idea BEFORE ME. It’s entirely possible that I let a couple bucks and some hassle stand in my way of bringing a truly useful product to market. I allowed a minor inconvenience to keep me from the possibility of a major success.
Here’s the thing about ideas. They’re perishable! They don’t expire, but if you don’t act on your ideas, eventually someone else will! And they might beat you to the punch. I’m not arrogant enough to believe that every idea I have will only be had by me. There are far too many people in this world for that to happen. It’s all about timing.
If you have an idea in your head or an opportunity in front of you, NOW is the time to do something about it! If you wait until tomorrow, it might be too late. There will always be obstacles to getting started. Some will be bigger and hairier than others, but if you aren’t willing to pay that price to see it through, I’ll bet eventually someone else will be. So get started! Go on…Make sure your ideas matter!