Idea Regret: What It Is and How To Avoid It

Entrepreneurship

Idea Regret: What It Is and How To Avoid It

By Matt Tew

Entrepreneurs know how hard it is to live with regret, especially over an idea that could have been yours if you had worked on it first.

As entrepreneurs and budding business owners, it’s important that we know the difference between having a great idea and turning that into reality. I learned this the hard way back in the early 2000. At a time when the Internet was reasonably new in Australia, I thought of a pretty ‘simple’ concept for a catering service. My idea was to launch a service called eMunch, which would allow customers to order their lunch through email. The food would be prepared by partner cafes in the city, with staff on standby, ready to deliver the meals to wherever they were. 

The wheels were set in motion and in time, everything had been organized and put into place. Our software was ready to take in orders. We had branding and marketing ready, down to what uniforms our staff will be wearing. 

But minutes before we were supposed to launch, our partner cafe pulled out. I was devastated at the time, seeing all our efforts go down the drain. I was so discouraged that I didn’t try to look for other partner restaurants or even consider other options. 

In short, I let my idea go. And until now, I’m living with the regret of not giving my idea a second chance just because of a setback. I’m haunted by this idea, especially after the success of Menulog, Deliveroo, Uber Eats and other services that have a similar business model. eMunch could have been the pioneer, the first of its kind back then. 


Idea regret

Ideas are not a limited resource and everyone thinks of new ideas every day, with many that are probably similar to what’s in your head right now. But remember, ideas themselves are useless. That’s what I’ve come to learn from that experience and after speaking to numerous clients. Execution is what makes any idea valuable. 

No matter how great or unique you may think your ideas are or how many people you’ve let known about them, they’re still useless if you don’t do something about it. You may have in your head the next best innovation, but unless you start working on making that happen, they will be left unseen by the general public. Think of the many potential lives you could change and help if you had that product or service out. 

Besides that, it’s tough to live with regret, constantly thinking of the ‘what-ifs’ in your life. A study conducted by Professor Victoria Medvec from the Kellogg School of Management showed that most people are bothered by the things they could have done but never did, rather than things they started but didn’t really succeed. “Lost opportunities linger in our memory longer," says marketing professor Neal J. Roese.


Need further convincing?

If you’re still a bit unsure whether it’s a good idea to build that website, app or software, then you can take these steps first.

Pitch your idea

To see whether or not your idea is something that is feasible and marketable, talk about it with your trusted colleagues in the industry. They can be your niche market, your potential clients so it’s a good idea to listen to their feedback. Take into consideration their comments, take notes and see which can be helpful for your idea. While it’s important to trust your gut, you can’t go wrong with listening to other valid opinions as well. 

Ask yourself if you’ll regret this in the future

Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos has come up with the Regret Minimization Framework, which he uses to determine whether he should work on an idea that’s brewing in his head. This method is pretty straightforward and it lets you think beyond the present and a little more forward into the future. It sets aside any doubts, fears or anxieties that are stopping you doing something. Ask yourself, will you be regretting not running with this idea after a certain number of years? If your answer is yes, then you need to take that leap forward. 

Start now! 

If everything points to yes, then there’s nothing left to do but to actually go for it. Start building that idea today so you can get it to market as soon as possible. The key is to be ahead of others and work on that idea that’s been incubating in your head. You don’t want to stumble upon a website or an app and say to yourself, “Hey, I thought of that idea too”. 

You can work on it on your own or have a trusted company on board to help you out; especially if you don’t really have the skills to create an app or software, for instance. Finding the 

At Intellis, we offer you the opportunity to turn your idea into a reality. You’ll only need to bring to the table a firm decision that you want to run with it and give it a chance. We have a team of experts who will guide you in every step of the way, from ideation to different development stages, to deployment and future updates. 


Even if it doesn’t turn out to be successful, there is comfort in knowing that you at least gave your idea a shot. You’ll never live with regret, wondering what could have been.