Money is valuable, because we can exchange it directly without further effort on our part.
It gives us immediate access – to important people, medical supplies and treatment, nice houses, cars and other gadgets.
How do you make money? By starting a business and selling a product. Or by working for somebody else as an employee.
These routes are nowadays changed. Being an employee is riskier and riskier, since corporations usually don’t keep people forever.
And starting a business is easier than ever.
In the past, that process required more than just an idea. You needed money to pay the rent for a brick and mortar business.
So you needed investors – and thus, they had the power to elevate or bury your entrepreneurial dreams.
Nowadays though, you can start an online business with about $100 – $200/year.
To develop a product and start a business, money has lost its importance. Now truly the better idea wins.
Now, ideas are cheap!, you may say. Yes. If by ideas you mean ‘spontaneous thoughts’, then you probably think of the same thing everyone else is thinking.
If you come up with 10 ideas a day though, you will realize that it becomes considerably harder after the first 1 – 3 thoughts that drop into your mind.
And that is when ideas become really valuable and give you an advantage. They start replacing money as currency.
What are twelve ways in which ideas are a new form of currency?
#1 – If we can think it, we can do it.
Whatever we visualize, we can get.
And we are already masters of visualization – when we think about the past and how we would have done things different.
Visualizing the past though holds us back.
That is actually good news, because it means: If ideas have the power to hold us back, they also have the power of to push us forward.
#2 – You can literally earn money with it.
Pat Flynn once had Stephen Key on his podcast who talked about licensing your ideas – and then getting paid royalties when a company uses them.
Those ideas are not lofty visions, they need to solve a concrete problem. Maybe you have seen a product that you almost overlooked in stores, because the package does not stand out enough. So maybe you can suggest the company to use a different design. A stronger color, perhaps, or a better design.
Often when employees suggest improvements, the company rewards them with a bonus. Those ideas are almost always about a very specific detail that can be improved.
You can also use your own idea and build a business around that. Take Domino’s Pizza as an example.
They basically noticed that many pizza delivery companies had sub par customer services. Namely, pizza delivery could sometimes take ages.
Their simple idea was therefore not to try and make an “even better pizza”, but to pledge a money-back guarantee if the customer does not get his delivery within 30 minutes of an order.
That was a simple idea, yet Domino’s has been very successful as a company. They did not try to improve their product and hope people would like it more. They also did not try to compete with other companies by reducing their price.
They simply looked at what people would actually appreciate and went with that.
#3 – Without gatekeepers, you can execute your ideas much faster.
I believe everyone always has had ideas. All the time.
But in the past, without internet, it was much harder to execute on them.
For example, if you wanted to write a book, you would have to send your manuscript to multiple different publishing houses, hope they would accept your manuscript and offer you a book deal.
I still remember the times when people were focusing on that route. And even if they got one, they would be paid pennies on the dollar, because companies would take a huge chunk out of the sales.
Moreover, the gatekeepers in the companies made sure that your idea would have been able to sell as good as the products that were already there. And people are rarely willing to experiment.
The gatekeepers could also hold you back because of political biases. Why not? They have the power and will find ways to keep it.
For example, the party that has the majority in congress forms the committees that discuss new rules and laws. And that means: unfavorable ideas do not even make it into the committee!
This is how ideas go to die. Gatekeepers in power.
Thanks to the internet though, their power is waning.
You can self-publish or form a company based on any idea you have. You can form political movements just by reaching out to potential followers via social media.
#4 – Specific ideas push you to act.
Constantly thinking and coming up with ideas means constantly looking at ways to solving a problem.
There is one caveat though. You can’t just think of an abstract idea and hope it works.
“Beaming people” as in Star Trek and Time Travel are certainly great ideas, but last time I checked, I am still living in the 21st century and use a car to get around.
However, there is always a small step in the eventual direction, even if it may have very little to do with the end product yet.
Ever since the beginning of the 20th century, physicists have developed – via quantum mechanics and relativity theory – a system that has brought forth completely new ways to look at the world around us. While we don’t have time travel yet, we are now able to teleport information about quantum states across a large distance.
All big pictures were once born as ideas.
Ideas that were actionable enough that people could design experiments around them and develop a new idea out of it. Slowly but surely, these lab experiments also made their way into reality. Nuclear energy (in peace and war-time); Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) imaging and Positron Emission Tomography (PET) that is used in medicine to detect tumors and other irregularities in the body; and almost our complete electronic gadgetry is based on observations from quantum mechanics.
Nobody got to these inventions by having the direct idea for them. But people had smaller ideas that brought us on the way.
In other words, you can’t just say you want to invent a Time Machine. But you can build the flux capacitor first.
#5 – Thinking of ideas improves our mental health.
Always thinking of specific ideas is not an easy exercise.
We have to be creative, and we are training our memory. Many ideas build on thoughts we already had in our mind.
We now have to dig them out, fit them to our current problem and polish them.
There is no way we do not put hard work into coming up with an idea. It can’t be, because if ideas were easy, we could not get licensing fees or royalties on it – as I discussed in #2 above.
I myself can’t even write down ten ideas without really thinking about them. So. It’s not easy!
(See also today’s introduction – only a fraction of your ideas will ‘just come to your mind’.)
#6 – Ideas bring order into the chaos.
We are all connected and everyone has a chance of saying what is on his or her mind.
Chances are everything has already been mentioned. There is an abundance of information.
We need ideas to make sense out of it. To dissolve the chaos into order.
Here is an example from medicine.
Take the Human Genome Project.
People were heralding a new age coming about. Yes! We finally have the blueprint! We know every gene!
But big data is not automatically big insight.
How do you put that whole genomic blueprint in motion?
Genes consist of a sequence that encodes a protein. For example, the proteins that make up our muscles. Or our heart. But simply throwing proteins together does not build a muscle.
Muscles are assembled in an elaborate process during our early development as an embryo.
First, the regions where muscles will be built are specified, then muscle cells form and fuse with other cells to build long entities that contain all the necessary muscle proteins – assembled in a way that we can contract the muscle and use it to apply force to our environment.
Thus, genes have regulatory sequences as well. Those sequences determine when each gene becomes active during the development and maintenance of organs and cells in the body.
Getting the genes into action is probably equivalent to having ideas.
That’s how important ideas are. They make sense of all the data and place it into an executable format.
That’s why ideas are the real currency.
#7 – It’s not only about ACQUIRING resources, it’s about MAINTAINING them.
If we had all the resources we need, life would be easy, we’d have abundance and no need to worry.
But even then, we needed to find ways to maintain our abundance…
Pablo Escobar was ‘filthy’ rich thanks to his drug empire. But still, every year, mice would eat up several millions of his money.
Even if you put your money into the bank, you have to pay the bank to protect it from thieves. So you need ideas that help you maintain your stash of money.
Taking it out of the vault and Investing it into appreciating assets is another… what? you guessed it: idea.
#8 – Ideas can give you access even if you don’t have money.
So now. Imagine you don’t have much money to buy a table. You still want to get into the exclusive night club.
(a) Invite some girls to come with you.
(b) Befriend the doorman.
(c) Become a regular visitor and befriend the staff.
(d) Dress in a specific stereotype – e.g. like a rock star – so they think you are a celebrity.
(e) Dress to exude an area of dominance and status so they let you in.
(f) Befriend a group of people that go through the VIP entrance.
(g) Simply go in.
(h) Slip in through the delivery entrance or back door.
(i) Bribe the doorman.
(j) Dress as repair technician and tell them you need to fix the leak in the bathroom.
See what I did there? 10 ideas how to get into a bar without paying the cover fee.
So without spending money, you can think of ideas that will still give you access to a specific resource.
#9 – Because you need time to acquire money or develop ideas.
As Aaron Clarey pointed out in Bachelor Pad Economics, money is a replacement of the time anyone has invested to get it. To acquire money, no matter how much, you need to invest time of your life.
You also need to put in the time to develop ideas.
#10 – Ideas can maximize the Return Of Investment (ROI) of your time.
Now – your lifetime is a finite resource. You don’t live forever.
So what you want is to maximize the time you put into acquiring money.
You can do that with ideas!
Because once you have an idea that leads to the development of a product that you can sell multiple times – you create a money-making machine that will minimize the time you need to spend to acquire a specific amount of money.
If you work 100 hours on a book, and sell one copy of it for $10, your ‘hourly wage’ is $0.1. If you sell it 100 times, you earn $10/hour. And then, with 1,000 copies, you are looking at an hourly wage of $100 or even $1,000 when you look at 10,000 copies sold.
And then you guest post on another blog and 1,000 more people buy your book. You just increased your hourly wage by $100. Of course, the guest blog post takes a couple of hours to write as well, but by and large the calculation stands. Not bad, hm?
#11 – Ideas connect us.
When two people have similar ideas, we realize we think alike and thus show that we have a common base.
#12 – Because you can have Idea Sex and create an awesome Idea Child.
If two people have ideas that can be matched, they can even build something new or form a new business or company together.
Now we have to execute so we can grow the initial seed that our ideas provide!
If you want to check out “Become an Idea Machine”, you can do so here.
Last challenge: Click me!
What is this challenge about? This link will teach you more.
And to get back to the main page, you can click here.
Coming up with new ideas vs. executing old ones – what do you think is more important?
Are you doing a “ten idea per day” practise?
Thanks for reading and let me know in the comments below!
(Images taken from Wikimedia Commons.)