Why a Great Idea Will Ruin You (And What to do Instead)

Discussing Great Ideas

You are not a freaking loser!

You have got ideas. And no doubt, ideas rule the world.

Think about Google’s PageRank that measures how important a website is by the number of quality links it receives, or the brilliant idea by the Wright Brothers to invent a flying machine.

first airplane - wright bros

Orville Wright’s famous first airplane flight.

However, great ideas need dedicated time and efforts before you see results, especially ideas like the “flying machine” that would require a lot of investment and experience upfront.

I know creating value is top of mind for you, so if you stay with me, I can show you the reasons why great ideas will ruin you and what to do instead.

But first, let’s not fool ourselves. In this century (I live in it, so I call tell and I bet you’d agree), we are more in a haste to see results, Period.

I am no different. I told the whole story in my new book, Not So Expert: how to confidently launch when you are not an Expert or have A-List Clients from a 360-degree perspective

No one wants to spend their time buried in an equation for fifteen years trying to figure out why the earth is round instead of square. Instead, we want to receive accolades, build a 100,000 subscriber mailing list and make money. And no one is to blame. The pressures of living a good life and equating success with money have increased.

I’ll tell you what else has increased in this century: Opportunities.

More than ever, we have increased opportunities to express our ideas. At the click of a button, you can communicate with nearly 85% of the human race. That is incredible power at your disposal.

Regardless of all the evidence that you can become an overnight success, you need to know the facts and it aint pretty. Statistics from Bloomberg reveals that 8 out of 10 businesses will fail and a report compiled by Mashable shows that 25% of businesses will fail in their first year.

start up stats

Top on the list of the many factors contributing to this, is capital or new businesses maxing out their credit cards before they get the chance to fully develop their ideas.

Another very important factor that is often overlooked is the “great idea” syndrome.

What qualifies as a great idea?

In his best-selling book, The Bootstrapper’s Bible, entrepreneur and marketing guru, Seth Godin, explains what a great idea is:

Seth Godin "what is a great idea"

While having a great idea in itself is not a crime punishable by law, it can ruin your start-up for different reasons.

First of, the pressure of building something better will lead you to spending so much time, energy, focus and money (assuming you have a lot to spare) on an idea that may even be bigger for your humble self to take, head-on.

Secondly, because you are trying to build what no one has seen before, you extend the time that it will take for your idea to make any money. If you have an idea, monetizing it should be one of your top priorities, sooner rather than later because monetizing will help you create more values for your audience.

Finally, there is really no evidence that your idea will go viral. Do you know why? The rate at which the “next new thing” pops up, especially on the internet is alarming. People are very protective of their time and with a short attention span that last only 8 seconds (shorter than a goldfish), you will need to prove a lot for people to pay attention.

You may also get bored. I will be the first to admit that not seeing results on time in your new business can get overly frustrating. If you take forever nesting on your ideas (huh?), no one sees it therefore no one can appreciate your hard work.

The whole point is, a “great idea” might be worth a bazillion dollars, but unless you have enough time, money, energy, team and management experience, its best you go with a proven idea with a proven business model.

How do you get a proven idea with a proven business model? Very simple.


No, I am not kidding.

Almost every successful entrepreneur I know or have read about, steal like a pro; and they also encourage their followers to steal their ideas and strategies.

I conducted a quick search on Google on “how to steal proven ideas” and got these search results.

steal these ideas

steal these ideas

steal these ideas

steal these ideas

To learn more about this strategy, pre-order [early-bird waiting list] my new book, Not So Expert: how to confidently launch when you are not an Expert or have A-List Clients from a 360-degree perspective


What I am saying here is very different from “copy and paste” and it is definitely unethical to steal copyrighted work and call it your own.

The Pros, however find a proven idea and business model and incorporate it in their overall strategy.

By using this strategy, you are shaving months, maybe years off your learning curve and the amount of work you need to validate that idea. Take “Apple” for example.

Apple was not the first company to invent smartphones. In fact, the phrase “smartphone” was actually first coined by Ericsson.

old model smartphone

old model smartphone

First range of Smartphones

Years later, with a ready market of smartphone users, Apple did a great job of turning the idea of a smartphone to an item that a consumer will desire. Apple’s iPhone was an improvement from the other smartphones both in aesthetics and functionality. Last time I checked, Apple averaged a total sale of 74.5 million iPhones in the quarter of 2014.


Apple’s iPhone

With that said, instead of executing a “great idea,” here are five things you can do to incorporate the strategy of the Pros and achieve business success.

  1. Find a Niche

Whatever your passion or interest, it can fit into a niche. Once you identify your niche, there are two very important factors that you must consider before making a move.


Cost of Entry: what is the cost of starting up in this niche? Can I execute an idea in less than thirty days? How much would I need to learn? What will it cost to learn? For how long?

I picked a thirty-day period because if you cannot start, execute and get people interested in what you are doing in that length of time, it’s probably not the right niche for you at the moment.

Once you determine the cost of entry, you can factor in other things such as profitability, scalability and long-term benefits.


Cost of Exit: don’t spend an incredible amount of time and energy on a business only to discover that the cost of exit is far greater than the cost of entry. A niche that you want to explore should have an easy exit strategy. This will give you the opportunity to learn and switch niche if need be.


Action Plan

  • List five top experts in your chosen niche: if you chose a broad niche, there are probably more experts that you should follow, but the point here is to avoid overwhelm and instead laser focus on the experts that you would like to clone their success.


  • Study their business model: What were the events leading to their success? You will find this sprinkled subtly in their free reports; blog post, interviews and webinars. Also subscribe to their newsletters or enroll in a paid course. If you do this right, you will have five business models with great differences, yet subtle similarities


  • Find an overlooked spot and dominate it: there are top experts in every niche, but you can take advantage of a sub-niche and dominate.

To learn more about this strategy, pre-order [early-bird waiting list] my new book, Not So Expert: how to confidently launch when you are not an Expert or have A-List Clients from a 360-degree perspective

  1. Get Started

Great, you have a solid idea now but you are just starting out, so nobody really cares what you think.

At this stage, you want to build your connections and set your expectations as low as possible. Possibly you can hit a home run and make a million dollars in the first 30 days but that is highly unlikely. Record progress when you get a nod from an expert, positive feedback on information you put out there and when your name begins to pop up in search engines.

Really there is still no money yet, but at least you know you have a proven idea.

Action Plan

  • Learn as much as you can
  • Start building authority by writing free reports, getting media mentions, building relationships, telling whoever cares to listen what your idea is about.
  • Connect with your peers


  1. Link Idea to Available Resources

The next step is to link your idea to the resources you have access to. Do not start a business in an area where you have absolutely no resources. Rest assured, if you picked the right idea, you will most certainly have resources.

Action Plan

  • Network: In 1929, a Hungarian author and journalist Frigyes Karinthy famously proposed the concept of the six degrees of separation that everyone and everything is six or fewer steps away, by way of introduction from any other person in the world.

Even if you only know six people, you can put the power of six degrees of separation to grow your network.

From your network, you will find:

Fans: people who just love you for being you. They are always eager to share your work and will tell everyone they know about you

Target Audience: these are people who are in need of your services and who you can pitch your ideas to. They will likely make a purchase

Connectors: I like the concept of “connectors” and I learnt a lot about how connectors play a major role in the success of your business in Malcolm Gladwell’s book, Tipping Point. Connectors are individuals with a large network. You only need one or two connectors referring you to people in their network to build a successful business.

I explain in-depth the power of six degrees of separation and how to use it to grow your network in my new book, Not So Expert: how to confidently launch when you are not an Expert or have A-List Clients from a 360-degree perspective available for pre-order [early-bird waiting list]  here.

  • Credibility: Bank on the credibility that you have built over the years to grow your new business. If you think that you have no evidence of being credible, think again. You probably were already doing something before you tried to start your own business and you have probably helped a lot of people along the line. Well, these are the people that will vouch for you.

People want to work with people, not with a company. A recommendation from a past client, friend or colleague will go a long way in proving that you are credible.

To also build credibility, subscribe to media outlets like Sourcebottle and HARO and respond to call outs. Put your name out there because you are your brand.

  • Past work: have you had past work experience and were you successful at it? Did you receive an award? No matter how unrelated, past success at work can help in any new venture you start.

For example, if you’ve received an award in your volunteer group, you can use that in your business. That award passes a message to prospects and can compel them to want to work with you.

4.   Stay on Trend.

You need to remain fresh and relevant in your chosen niche. It is alarming the rate at which the world is changing. By staying on trend, you will earn respect from your colleagues and clients.

The easiest way to stay trendy is to take advantage of Google’s service: Google Alerts

You don’t even need a gmail account to set up Google alerts.

To set up Google alerts for your preferred keyword, visit alerts.google.com

Google alert

You can click the “show options” tab to set preferences, like how often you want to receive alerts.

G. Alerts3

You can also choose to have your alerts delivered in your gmail account, via RSS Feed or any other email address.

  1. Work Hard. Work Smart

Don’t be fooled when you hear your favourite expert say they work whenever they want. The truth is they worked really hard in their first few years as a business owner.

Jon Morrow, founder of Boost Blog Traffic Inc. spends an average of 9 hours on his focus days (Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays), where he concentrates on one topic and schedules other tasks to be done on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

Will and Mitchell, founders of StartupBros also worked really hard in the early stages of building their business.

Case in Point: a proven idea and proven business plan still needs due diligence before you can record positive results. There is no choosing between hard work and smart work. You got to do both to get an excellent outcome.

Working Smart involves working hard doing the right things at the right time. It involves concentrating on the task that gives you the most return for your time and business.

For example, there are a gazillion tasks involved to set your ideas in motion, and you are only one person. Working smart means identifying your goals at every phase to stay focused.

0-3 months: business/idea validation, target audience persona, learning, building contacts, planning

3-6 months: putting your ideas out there, getting feedback, building an audience, building credibility

6-9 months: caring about SEO, traffic strategies, some monetization, continuous feedback, continuous credibility, giving, interviews, curating content

9-12 months: different monetization strategies, continuous learning, writing posts, interacting with audience, split testing, variations

Of course, you may gain traction and get results sooner, but the point is, if your business looks something like [the above], you are not doing badly.


The strategies presented in this post will only work if you work them. To recap, there are five action steps to ditch the “great idea syndrome” and take action now.

  1. Find a Niche
  2. Get Started
  3. Link Idea to Available Resources
  4. Stay on Trend
  5. Work Hard. Work Smart

There you have it. With these five steps, you will launch your ideas quicker, record results faster and gain recognition in no time.

Click here to learn more and pre-order [early-bird waiting list] my new book, Not So Expert: how to confidently launch when you are not an Expert or have A-List Clients from a 360-degree perspective


Have you ever had “a great idea” that never saw the light of the day because you were too busy trying to play “perfect” or what golden nuggets would you like to add to this post? Leave a response in the comment section below and don’t forget to show some love by clicking the share buttons. 

First Visit?

Hannah Edia (@hannahedia) is known as The Content Maven and is passionate about creating content that sticks, connects and generate leads for entrepreneurs and business owners. Download my Content Maven Toolbox that helps you create a whole year’s worth of content or hire Hannah (me!) to manage your content strategy!


  • eshe

    Reply Reply November 12, 2015

    Wonderful post can’t wait to get this in action! It was so relevant too ? can’t wait to see more posts from you

    • Hannah Edia

      Reply Reply November 12, 2015

      Hi Eshe,

      Glad you love the post and dropped a comment.

      Hope to see more of you here 🙂

  • Benjamin Carter-Riley

    Reply Reply November 19, 2015

    To be honest when I saw the title of the post, I was quite shocked.

    Then I read on and see your point!
    If something is already working great for someone else, why reinvent the wheel?

    Not to say that you completely rip articles from another blog, but seeing what works and expanding on that or taking it from a different angle is something to take into consideration when writing blog posts.

    You know what they say: “If it ain’t broken, don’t fix it.” 🙂


    • Hannah Edia

      Reply Reply November 19, 2015

      Hey Benjamin,

      Definitely don’t rip off but expand and integrate into your current strategy or goal for your blog/business.

      Thanks and hope to see more of you 😉

  • Stephen Godwill

    Reply Reply January 26, 2016

    Hit me like a Bomb shell, learnt more Dan wah I cud bargain for…
    # Work Hard
    # Work Smart.

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