Ideas Are The Easy Part

A friend of mine has a really neat idea. He wants to develop an online tailoring service that will leverage skilled people overseas to produce suits and clothing for people here in the U.S.A. In case you’ve never experienced custom made clothing, the fit is truly amazing and will almost always leave you wanting more.

Sure, there are a few already-existing companies that do this but my friend thinks there are a few “flaws” in their business models that could be tweaked to result in a successful business.

It’s a neat idea. Ideas are great. I love ideas. The problem with ideas is that it is often convenient to forget that ideas can require a lot of effort work to bring them to fruition.

Coming up with the idea behind this business was the easy part. Anyone could do that. The difficult part is in turning the idea into a reality. Potential implementation issues I can imagine include: fashion trends are notoriously fickle, supply chain management across continents, importing from overseas is a logistical challenge, good website design takes time, and… oh yea, that little thing called marketing.

There’s an old joke in the software engineering world about pigs and chickens that goes something like this:

A chicken and a pig decide to open a restaurant that serves breakfast. The chicken takes some initiative and makes up a menu featuring “bacon and eggs”. It’s relatively easy for the chicken to provide the eggs… but serving bacon with this breakfast will literally kill the pig.

In life, some of us inevitably start out by being the idea-generators and playing the role of the chicken. We get excited about an idea and start working to achieve it, only to discover that the act of bringing this idea into reality may require that we become the pig, sacrificing an unrealistic amount of our personal time to make the idea a reality.

The problem is we need to remember that the “breakfast” requires effort work to produce. If we aren’t careful we place the burden of our success on the backs of our team and/or our future selves, only to get discouraged at the lack of progress along the way.

I do recognize there can be a happy middle ground where our ideas and our efforts to realize those ideas coexist. It’s just important to remember that realizing ideas requires far more effort than just coming up with the idea.