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Advice to a client: don’t just have a great idea and act on it – remember the bottom line too

So you’ve got a great idea, do you? Good for you. You’ve joined the ranks of many, many people with a great idea. Don’t get me wrong, having a great idea is wonderful, it’s affirming, and it’s fun to share with your friends. But, besides something to distract you, what do you have?

chocolate chip cookie from roboppy on Flickr.com
chocolate chip cookie from roboppy on Flickr.com

There are a lot of good ideas running around. I’ll bet you most of the people you know have a good idea for a business or a product or a website. Ask around, see what people say. I think you’d be surprised by how many good ideas there are out there. It begs the question: why aren’t we all rich?

I see three components to success story based on a really good idea.

  1. The good idea itself. Let’s assume the idea is good (meaning that it is physically and fiscally possible, it’s not a direct copy of something else, and it addresses a real need).
  2. The motivation to really and truly act on this idea (meaning that you get a team together, cash out your savings or get a loan if you need money to start, and do the damn thing like you actually care).
  3. The ability to maximize the amount of money you make from this idea (meaning, simply, that you [or someone on your team] have the business sense to make a profit, minimize expenses, and market successfully).

People get so caught up on the first step, the idea, that they forget the rest of it. If you forget about the second step, you might as well forget about the first one. If you forget about the third step then, congratulations, you have a hobby.

This all relates back to a conversation I had recently with a client. He had a great idea for a video series that has a real chance of becoming popular. He’s probably one of the few people who would/could do it and, if done properly, I think it has viral potential. Sweet, a great idea, one step down.

Since the video relates directly to something he does on a regular basis, having the motivation to do it shouldn’t be too hard. Add a little personality, a bit of music, some creative editing and I see Hollywood in his future. Well, that or some good popularity on YouTube and, potentially, a sell-able DVD.

So, let’s assume the first two are on lock and the videos will actually be created. What then? I have no doubt that people will want to see the videos and send them around to their friends but will this happen if they cost, say, $2.99 to view? Probably not. What about a monthly subscription for full access? Probably not. What about only offered on DVD? Probably not. So how does this idea translate into a paycheck?

Cash by Bashed on Flickr.com
Cash by Bashed on Flickr.com

It’s going to take real time to create and edit these videos and no one wants to work for free so these videos have to point to income. The simplest thing to do is to have the videos gain attention for T-shirts, CDs, or shoes or something of that nature. At the very least, the attention gained by the free videos does something financially productive. The only “problem” here is that the items being sold don’t relate very well to the videos. As such, people who are only interested in the video might not give a crap about the other stuff. This is where we get creative:

  • First, you need free versions and paid versions of the videos. The free versions are lower quality (for online posting) and include an ad bar at the bottom (get a sponsor?).
  • Think of the videos in terms of a series of themes, each theme with it’s own series of videos. Each theme is a skill and the first 2 or 3 or 4 videos are free. Want the rest? Download them for $4 per theme or $20 for the whole set. All the videos will be higher quality, ad free, and burnable to a DVD. Also, offer everything on DVD for $25. Now the videos are monetized.
  • Don’t stop there, though. Do you have anything else for sale? What about those T-shirts or an unrelated DVD or maybe a service? Wear your shirts and mention your service on the video. Even better, include a 15 second introduction on the free videos hawking your wares.
  • Last but not least, always think of what’s next. You want the current venture to be leading to the next one. Are there more video series that can be done? Can you write a book about it? If the videos become popular, use that popularity to go down other roads and create/promote similar things.

In the end, one of the 3 idea components will likely out-weigh the others in terms of how it contributed to the eventual success. This might be luck (you were lucky enough to come up with an amazing idea or lucky enough to randomly meet the best teammate or were lucky enough to time certain things just right to cash in) or something else but it doesn’t eliminate the importance of the other three being present.

If you have a great idea and just don’t know what to do with it, send me an email or a Twitter and I’d be glad to talk it over with you. If I can help you in a professional sense, that’s great. If not, maybe I can help you get perspective. And don’t worry about me stealing your idea… I have enough great ones to keep me busy for a long time!

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