Nobody is Going to Pay You For Your Ideas

Yesterday somebody posted an interesting comment on the bottom of my post ‘How to Sell an Idea to a Big Company.’ Sadly, that post explains to people why they can’t sell their ideas to big companies. Most of the 70-some comments there are from people who ignore what the post says and share how great their ideas are. This one is slightly different.


This person acknowledges the problem, as follows:

How do I sell not an idea but my involvement in creating ideas to a reputable company? Is there a way for me to work (preferably from home) and continually provide my endless supply of ideas to a company? How do I go about getting a job where I am the idea man; where I am a part of the think tank for a company; where I can show them what is wrong and why and how they can do it better and blow away the competition in the process? Is it even possible to have such a dream job or am I just fooling myself?

If you have to ask, then yes, you’re fooling yourself.

Because although it is true that some very special people get jobs like that — Alan Kay, for example, computer pioneer, extremely accomplished; or click the image here to see a piece from the New York Times about Entrepreneurs in Residence — it takes accomplishments to validate ideas. Those entrepreneurs in residence are there for ideas, but they didn’t get there by having ideas. They got there by executing on ideas.

I think the people who walk around thinking they have multiple great ideas, but have no accomplishment to prove it, don’t understand how ideas work. Untested ideas are like unwritten novels. All unwritten novels are brilliant — on the minds of would-be authors who didn’t write them. You and I can’t evaluate our own ideas. We’re too close  to them.  Real ideas are out there in the world, bouncing around, until somebody locks onto them, does something with them, executes, and makes them happen.  That gives them value.

The only thing you can do with a great idea is execute. And nobody in their right mind will pay you until you’ve done that, and more than once. You have valuable ideas: then prove it.


One thought on “Nobody is Going to Pay You For Your Ideas

  1. Yes, but no – the question isn’t answered. One way to take ideas to companies, governments, agencies, organizations and solutions to where they are needed is to execute them as a business within their own right, yes. But, the question isn’t answered. If I see a way that a company could do something better, solve a problem they are having, contribute to their overall success, have an idea of a method, product, process or marketing campaign that would bring profit to them, how is it possible to get that to them and get paid for it appropriately without executing it as a competitive business to their efforts? That is the question. I can see InnoCentive as one way, where solutions and ideas can be applied to requests for solutions. But, what is the process for taking these solutions and ideas to companies where they have not been solicited but are obviously much needed? From the lady who acted as a consultant to Kleenex to tell them other ways to package their products which would work better for people using them, to the Pound Puppy sold to Kenner – what is the pathway used to be fairly treated by these companies and access gained to offer solutions, innovations, and appropriate ideas to them?