Making a Dollar Out of Fifteen Cents: How to Turn Ideas into Reality

For those of you out there who have or still do listen to rap music, you’ll remember this catchphrase from Tupac Shakur’s song “Keep Ya Head Up” where he sings about his darker days in the New York ghetto just trying to survive day to day and make his dreams come true (quote: “Tryin to make a dolla’ outta 15 cents.”)

Not only is this an inspiring statement knowing what Shakur ultimately rose to in his respective industry; it’s also very relevant to the life of an entrepreneur too.

One dollar
photo credit: darrendean

Taking something small and turning it into something bigger doesn’t require a proven formula – it requires vision, creativity, and action. Each of these elements costs you nothing but time.

See Forbes: The 12 Things That Successfully Convert a Great Idea Into a Reality

See, we’re not living the typical “9 – 5” existence that deals primarily in tangibles. In fact, the whole concept of making something from nothing (which is the real message you should be getting from the title), is what makes some people leaders, and the majority nothing but followers.

Jim Rohn’s speech on turning something into nothing really gets this message across most effectively:


That speech is all about ideas. Taking something that isn’t physical, making it so bright in your mind, the picture so clear and palpable, that all that’s left is to take your belief and make it real so others can enjoy the view too.

As you’ve probably guessed, this post isn’t about stock dividends, mutual funds, or manufacturing cheap swag and selling them for huge profits. It’s about taking your “cheapest” commodity: your thoughts and turning them into a fortune, possibly even a legacy that will burn brighter than any star.

idea bulb
photo credit: Michael Phillips

Read through the following examples and then try to tell the rest of the world that you can’t take a new idea and market your company into the big time, or that you can’t invest all your time into a new business venture that has no guarantee to payoff.

That kind of thinking is for the followers of the world folks!

Alexander Graham Bell

Alexander Graham Bell
photo credit: Canada’s Walk of Fame

Do any of you know what the first, audible words were ever to be transmitted over telephone? Bell told his assistant, Thomas Watson: “Mr. Watson–Come here–I want to see you”, and for the first time in history people didn’t have to be within shouting range in order to talk with others.

Being a lifelong student of elocution, his creative side led Bell on a mission to develop a way to transfer the sound of one’s voice through a wire. The rest, as they say, is history. Big history! The Bell Telephone Company is the nation’s largest telecommunication and media corporation, with dozens of subsidiaries throughout North America.

It all started with an idea. Who would have thought it was possible to do such a thing if not for a dreamer like Bell?

Walt Disney

Walt Disney
photo credit: The Disney Wiki

When Walt Disney World opened in Florida in 1971, Walt had already died. A reporter was interviewing his brother Roy Disney, and exclaimed “It’s a shame that Walt wasn’t here to see this”. Walt’s brother replied “He saw it first, that’s why you get to see it”.

Walt Disney was a visionary in a time when everyone was trying to live out the “Industrial Version” of the American dream: Get a job, climb the ladder, buy a house, retire and play golf. He made something out the characters in his head and put them on the screen for us to enjoy forever. Disney World was his legacy.

Think you can’t do the same?

Steve Jobs

Steve Jobs
photo credit: Wikimedia Commons

Flash forward to the present (well the slightly present-past), and we have Steve Jobs. Jobs built Apple in his parent’s garage. Most of us know the Apple story and that’s perhaps what he’s most revered for. He also bought and re-tooled Pixar Entertainment (Toy Story, Finding Nemo) from George Lucas (another visionary who takes ideas and makes them real), which Jobs then sold to The Walt Disney Company for a cool $7.4 billion in 2006.

Other moderate to highly-successful Job’s innovations include: NeXT, The Cube, iPod, Macbook, iPad, iPhone – and nearly 240 active patents to his name when he died.

While the computer had already been invented, Jobs had a mission to build one that took up little space and which would provide a seamless end-user experience. He achieved that goal, then adapted his visionary flare to other devices as technology advanced.

Here’s some more inspirational reading for included below:

Read my more practical tips on turning ideas into reality on another blog of mine here:

Stop looking for the tangible in life…

Instead find a way to make today’s vision tomorrow’s reality!