Not sure if your idea works? Just start making it

Tom Kenny, CSO at Courage, advocates for not waiting for permission to make a great idea come to life.
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By Tom Kenny

“When I finish the script, we just start production. We just get offices.”

This is a quote from Quentin Tarantino talking about how, once he completes a script, he immediately begins the machinations of making the movie. He doesn’t wait around for distribution or some executive producer to greenlight it. He just starts making it.

Now, I know that’s easy for one of the most acclaimed and successful directors in the world Ultimately, someone will open their gates in hopes of getting the next Reservoir Dogs or Pulp Fiction. But what’s most impressive about Tarantino’s commitment to maintaining the momentum of a creative endeavor is that he’s been doing it his entire career. At the age of 24, Tarantino co-wrote a film called My Best Friend’s Birthday and, rather than wait for studio funding, he assembled some friends, rented some gear and started making it.

Working in the advertising industry, ultimately someone does have to give us the green light. We work for clients and it’s their money that funds our brilliant ideas. But all too often ideas can stall out and lose momentum before a client can see their potential. Creative projects are like sharks: if they stop moving, they die. Even a great idea can wither on the vine if it’s left untended in an embryonic stage.

In my experience, there are usually two main culprits for why a potentially great idea stalls out. The first is that someone else doesn’t think the idea is very good. This happens all the time, and to be honest, in a lot of instances the other person might be right and you need to come up with something new.

But if you believe, deep down, in your heart of hearts, that it’s a great idea, then just start making it. There’s no quicker way to figure out if an idea works. I’ve had a million ideas that are brilliant until I started putting pen to paper. Furthermore, motion creates emotion, so if you start making something and it’s working, people usually start getting behind it.

The second reason most ideas seem to stall out is because people don’t know how to turn the thing that’s in their head into a reality. They have an amazing concept, but maybe it’s something that they’ve never done before, or maybe it’s something that no one has ever done before, so they become paralyzed by uncertainty.

To these people, my advice might sound familiar: just start making it. You don’t need to know how to do the whole thing to start tackling the first thing. Carve out a piece of the whole and start trying to figure that part out, then the next, then the next.

Great ideas are usually easy to understand but hard to make. And not everyone will recognize them as great in their earliest stages. But if you have an idea you believe in, don’t wait for someone to give you permission and don’t wait for it to start manifesting itself. Open offices, start production, and just start making it.

Tom Kenny is chief strategy officer of Courage.