George Jetson On The Dog WalkHave you ever laid awake at night unable to fall asleep because your brain is at such a high RPM and won’t “shut off”? Well, my brain has been doing that for awhile now and not just at night before I go to sleep, but ALL the time. Ideas are just popping up like popcorn kernels in a microwave and each one is as delicious as the next. I’m beginning to feel like Michael Keaton in Night Shift, where he jots down all of his crazy ideas on a tape recorder. “Wait a minute! Why don’t they just mix the mayonnaise with the tuna in the can… HOLD THE PHONE! Why don’t they just FEED the tuna fish mayonnaise!”
Most of my ideas are web based, meaning they’d involving building a web site and creating a community around it. As of this entry, I have about 7 web sites that I’d love to build and launch right this minute. Unfortunately, none of these sites have a good business plan behind them. They may be good ideas, but it’s not as if they would generate much in the way of revenue. In other words, 95% of the ideas will do nothing but cost me money. I suppose it’s one of my fatal flaws really. 😛

Not all of the ideas are web related and surprisingly, or maybe not so surprisingly, those ideas have definite, sustainable revenue models behind them. For example, I’d like to open a small cafe that specializes in Louisiana food. We’d serve Jambalaya, Gumbo, Etouffee and maybe fresh po-boys. The menu would be basic, but everything would be excellent. The best recipes of each genre. On top of all that, we’d have a method of packaging everything to go in large containers, so if you need some food for a tailgate party, we’ve got you covered. I can just picture, a long line of people picking up their to go orders on the way to a Titans game.

I don’t know anything about the restaurant business, nor do I have any capital that could even start the business, so for the time being it’s sitting in the back of my mind. It’s an itch that I can’t scratch and if it were just one, that would be one thing, but in actuality it’s just one of many that are itching away. I also want to open a bicycle shop, a French cafe, a technology learning center, a coffee shop, a PC gaming center, a cigar store. Couple that with all the web sites that I want to launch and you have a seriously scratchy brain. 🙂

So what’s holding me back from going forward on any of these ideas? Why don’t I just take the bull by the horns and take a stab at a few of them. Especially the web based ones since they don’t have the overhead that a brick and mortar based business would. Well, all I can say in my defense is I’m a little older and a little wiser. A few years ago, I had a few “wild hairs” and I was unprepared for the work and level of activity that came out of it. Since then, I’ve been a little gun shy I guess.

It started in 1998 when I bought my first Palm OS device, the Pilot 1000. After playing with it for a few months, I began looking for resources online and when I stumbled on a thread on Usenet about someone looking to create a user group in Kansas City (I was living in Topeka, KS at the time), I chimed in saying that I’d like to attend one as well. Getting the first meeting organized was a big ball of chaos, so I guess I took control and organized the first meeting. My thinking was that this was a one time thing. I proposed that we elect someone to head the group, someone other than me, but the consensus was that I was the leader. All of a sudden, I had to figure out just what a PUG did and how to run a volunteer organization.

I found that you could spend a great deal of time on a volunteer group. There was no end to what a humble little PUG could do. I created a web site, added forums, scheduled chats, brought in guest speakers, arranged for door prizes each month, found location space in a city I didn’t live in and of course answer hundreds of tech support e-mails. It was a lot of work, but I enjoyed the work as well. Even though I didn’t get paid for it, it was very rewarding.

After about 6 months after the start of the KCPUG, Holly and I moved to Nashville. I held off for about 6 months, but I could finally hold back no longer and I created the Nashville Palm Users Group on October 6, 1999. Over the past 4 years, NPUG has grown to about 800 members and explored all sorts of avenues. It’s been a real learning experience in finding out just how far a volunteer group can go. A little while later, I also created InterPUG, a resource for PUG Leaders that provides free hosting, forums, chat, etc.

Although I do enjoy the work that I do with these two groups, it can be a bit overwhelming at times. There’s a lot of work that goes into these two organizations and neither of which generate revenue to speak of, so all the work is done in my spare time. I still run my own consulting firm and that takes a great deal of time as well. So at the end of the day, there’s not a lot of “spare” time left lying around to explore every brain fart that I have. :s

I guess, when you boil it all down, what I’m really afraid of is being left holding the bag. Everyone may think that an idea is great, like NPUG, but that doesn’t mean that everyone is going to pitch in to get it off the ground, or keep it running. So I’ve been trying to change the way I think about these ideas. Instead of just throwing myself into the fray and wrestling this new idea to the ground all by myself, I’m going to create a team around it and “do it right.” Wether it will generate revenue or not, my goal is to create it as a business and have a structure that can be easily maintained by a handful of people. This way I’m not left with doing all the work and getting bogged down on low, or no-revenue work

That sounds good and all, but it takes longer to realize your goals this way and I’m not a patient person. So I’m having to hold a tight reign on my ideas and let my brain itch like poison ivy on your personal candy, because if I let loose of the reigns, the ideas will take a life of their own and make me its slave. I suppose this is a good problem to have. I guess I’d rather have too many ideas than not having any, but my brain can be a cruel mistress. Oh how I’d love to just let loose and just go hog wild!

I don’t know how to define just what this passion is that I have. Is it a passion to build communities, to build businesses, is it both? I don’t know, but it appears to be one of my creative outlets. Some people paint, others write poetry, I guess mine is this, whatever this is. If that is indeed the case, then I suppose I need to find a way to explore it. Maybe I should set aside a designated time to let loose these creative energies and see just where it takes me. Instead of holding them back and then inevitably letting go and getting sucked into a world of work, I could let it out bit-by-bit in a safe environment until the idea is fully formed and “hatched.”

Oh oh, I just had another idea didn’t I? LOL