You don’t need a million pounds. Just a million-pound idea.
A few years ago, an article appeared in The New York Times about a new breed of accountant.
After trying his hand at being a rock star, Jason Blumer eventually took over his father’s accountancy firm. Bored out of his tiny mind, he set about transforming how he did business.
His radical idea was to do away with suits. And timesheets.
Charging by the hour meant that his worth was set in measurable units of time. And selling time rewarded people for dragging their heels on tedious jobs.
The system wasn’t geared to providing valuable insight into how to run a business more efficiently and ultimately save a shed load of cash. And it was those complex, exciting projects that the rock star in him wanted to dedicate his life to.
His ambition was to make and save his clients enough money that they’d pay him a handsome fee, without wanting or needing to ask how long it took. Jason became a leading figure in a brave new band of accountants that call themselves Cliff Jumpers.
From flat, milky-grey bookkeepers to fearless, adrenalin-fuelled Cliff Jumpers. Without a doubt, a multi-million-pound idea.
Now let’s go back in time to when Napoleon was romping across Europe. Prussia needed to fund their war effort.
The Prussian royal family asked the wealthy to exchange their gold jewellery for iron replicas. And they obliged, providing the military with a much-needed cash injection.
Then a very interesting thing happened.
The rich were out of pocket. But at balls and banquets, the blackened iron around their necks eventually became a symbol of patriotism and commitment to the cause. Temporarily at least, the jewellery became more valuable as status.
A relatively cheap source (the salary of the royal advisor who came up with it). Revenue generated. Target audience happy. Million-pound idea.
So today, how can you maximise your chances of getting that million-pound idea, without paying a million pounds for it?
After all, no one really knows what a big idea is worth when it first presents itself. It’s only over time that the real value of an idea becomes apparent.
But some of us do have a gauge for measuring an idea’s potential. And it’s no big secret. At You Agency, for example, we scrutinise how well we think an idea leverages a combination of brand belief, product benefit and how much of a bond it’ll make with the consumer. Three Bs, if you want to get all corporate about it.
What you can do, is employ the minds of people who use data, experience and a massive dose of creativity to do it day in, day out. And guess what? You don’t need a big agency to find them.
It’s easy to be seduced by the names above the door, the warm, cosy bosom of a motherly agency and by an historical reel spilling over with work for huge brands.
But the truth is, none of that guarantees a thing, apart from a spanking monthly retainer.
Some small agencies are filled with big people. People who use all their experience to work fast. People who have gone from big to small for a reason. Because their brains are uniquely wired. And they want to make a difference.
Those people come without the eye-watering price tag. Yet still approach every problem with the same ferocious, unbridled enthusiasm to get to brand-changing ideas. Because they can’t help themselves. It’s what gets their tails wagging.
They are out there.