This world is full of jaded, discouraged, and broke people who thought they had a great idea for a product or businesses. It all seems so perfect in their heads, and then when the time comes to get out and implement it, they fall flat on their faces. What people need to learn, and experienced investors already know, is that ideas are almost worthless. The ability to execute an idea, to lead, to propel it into the market, to maintain quality, to manage a sustainable business... these are the skills that pay the bills. All of which we can sum up as "competency".
The Absurdity of Conceptual Patents
When someone discovers a new substance that can cure a disease, a new form of combustion, or other very tangible discoveries, patents are very useful and deserved. However, business and innovation today are tied in knots with absurd patents and lawsuits around loose concepts. Everyone and their uncle tried to sue Apple over the iPod. Just as asinine, Apple seems to sue everyone who uses icons on a smartphone. People can copy ideas all day long and still not produce a comparable product to a competent competitor.
Who cares if someone copies a feature or element of your software or process? Are they capable of supporting it? Do they have the expertise to use it like you do? Can they keep it updated? The reality is that copycats have to imitate good businesses because they are incompetent. Ultimately, consumers and clients can tell the difference.
Avoiding Entitlement Mentality
A lot of people crash and burn in a new business because they feel like "it was their idea" and they have contributed their full measure. The "idea guy" will often feel underpaid, undervalued, and yet do almost no work. Everyone else is riding the wake of their brilliance and should feel honored they even have a small piece of the pie. The reality is that the idea doesn't sell itself; the selling is a lot of hard work. So is the building, the distribution, the fulfillment, etc. If you have a great idea, find great people to work with and be generous!
Learning to Let Ideas Go
As habitual entrepreneurs, Todd and I have had a lot of ideas over the years. We used to froth at the mouth over each one. We have probably started/stopped over a dozen businesses. Over time, as the one we stuck with took off, we realized that ideas aren't special. The character and discipline we have learned in growing our main business are much more valuable than any ideas we can hope to think of. The best part is, there are always ideas out there, but competency is rare.