If a business continues to do just what it has always done it will probably wither and die.

Sometimes we don’t think of a decision as being “an idea” – we just do something because it seems to make sense.  But of course there has been a subconscious process of considering an option and then acting upon it.

One aspect of my business of advising business owners is to review options and stimulate creative thinking.  Two or more heads are often more productive than one in these cases.  Trying to “see” what isn’t there.

But ideas are just a starting point.

Derek Sivers wrote a short book about how he started a hobby business – and how it developed until he sold it for $22m.  In it he says that “ideas are worth nothing unless they are executed” and then gives a simple formula for estimating the value of an idea. 1

He puts a “multiplier” value on ideas (from “awful” to “brilliant”) and notional dollar value on “execution” of ideas:

Idea “multiplier”

  • Awful =              -1
  • Weak idea =        1
  • So-so =               5
  • Good =             10
  • Great =             15
  • Brilliant =           20

Notional “execution” dollars value

  • Awful =             $1
  • Weak =             $1k
  • So-so =             $10k
  • Good =             $100k
  • Great =             $1m
  • Brilliant =          $10m

So an “awful” idea will lose you money however well executed (e.g. “-1” times “$any”).   But (for example) a good idea with good execution is, he suggests, worth (10 x $100k) = $1m

OK – it depends on definitions and circumstances but I think the principle is worth learning..

When I came back from my first trip to Australia – high on sun and surf and positive people – I felt that one striking difference in attitudes there and here seemed to be this.

When someone proposes something in Oz the reaction is “OK, how can we do that”.  My experience in the UK had been a first reaction of “That won’t work because of this and this”.  Identifying why something won’t work is easier than gnawing, sharing and diving into an idea to see how it might work.

When I read about Pete Winkelman suggesting he wanted to buy a top league football team (Wimbledon) and bring it to Milton Keynes, I could see clearly that it would never work.  There were obviously too many obstacles in the way of such an ambitious idea.  How wrong was I? 3

But it is the “incremental” and sometimes “clever” ideas that can make a big difference.  As Sivers also suggested – “Success comes from persistently improving and inventing, not from persistently doing what’s not working”. To improve and invent you need to be open to ideas.

James Altucher suggests that to winkle out ideas you need to practise.  “The idea muscle must be exercised everyday” he writes – and “to become an idea machine takes about six to twelve months of daily practise”. 2 He advocates writing daily lists.  Lists of not less than 10 ideas on any subject – whether it be business related or not.  It’s hard sometimes to get past 3 or 4 – but starting with “easy” lists like “10 activities to do on holiday” might get you into it.

If this sounds like some sort of “self-improvement” rant, please believe me that it isn’t.

It’s to illustrate one benefit of engaging my firm, Inform Business, to objectively review your business and help you discover and execute ideas that add to your success.



  1. “Anything You Want” by Derek Sivers (and his great blogs at http://www.sivers.org
  2. “Choose Yourself!” by James Altucher (and see his always engaging blogs at http://www.jamesaltucher.com)
  3. MK Dons was formerly Wimbledon FC which was acquired and relocated in 2003 – the brainchild of Pete Winkelman. http://www.mkdons.com/