Jim's Marketing Blog

Marketing ideas to help you grow your business

Is this a bad idea?

Progress is about putting great ideas into action.

However, trying to make a bad idea work is a source of little more than frustration.

Don’t try to save bad work


When I speak with a writer, designer, programmer, etc., who is struggling with a project, one of the most common things they will ask me is, ‘how can I save this?’ They have usually worked hard on something for a long time, then figured out that the original idea was a bad one, but they’ve put so much into it that they refuse to scrap it.

So, they invest more and more time trying to save a bad idea, until they either give up, or worse, hand their client a poor quality piece of work.

Persistence and delusion

Persistence is essential if we want to succeed in anything of value. However, there’s a difference between persistence and delusion. To persist with a bad idea when we know it’s going nowhere, is pointless.

Be kind to yourself. Refuse to waste your time working with bad ideas. Once you discover something is a bad idea, give yourself permission to acknowledge you are wasting your time, then reinvest your time, doing something that’s worthy of you and your talent.

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  1. I like this post Jim. In the past I ignored my intuition and worked with some ideas that felt wrong. Now today I listen to my intuition and unless an idea feel right, I leave it.

    This has worked for me and may work for your readers. As soon as it feels wrong, go find what feels right.

    • Hi Sam. I am a firm believer in trusting your gut too.

      The challenge is deciding to stop, when you realise that the core idea is wrong or fatally flawed.

  2. Great idea here, Jim. I wish I had a mini you on my shoulder yelling at me to stop when I need to.

    The trouble I have is defined in the classic book, The Innovators Dilemma, how do I know whether to pivot or persevere. So I slam my head, keep pushing and trying to force the square peg into the round hole.

    I think you hit it on the head in the comment above “…when you realize the core idea is fatally flawed.”

    • Hi there JP. Nice to see you on the blog.

      You ask a great question from the book you mentioned; when to pivot and when to persevere. In my experience, people quit too soon or they quit way too late. The key is learning to trust your gut feeling and use it as an inner compass. When it says ‘this can’t work’, listen to it.

      Often, people will quit too close to the start, when they hit their first major problem or get their first negative feedback on an idea. This is when you need to persevere. Great ideas do not succeed though ordination. The converse of this are those who persist with a broken idea, long after they know it’s a waste of their time, money and energy.

      Thanks for widening the conversation, JP.

  3. An eye-opening post here Jim.

    I see examples of this regularly, with the businesses I consult to. They get an idea and then dash into it, all guns blazing, with little prior research. That section on trying to save bad work is extremely common, as they battle to try and make a silk purse from a sow’s ear.

    Terrific post there Jim.


  4. Great post Jim. It can be difficult to let go of a bad idea of project. Thanks for the wake up call.

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