Simon Cowell owes me money, but before I attempt to collect from the creator of television shows such as “American Idol” and Britain’s “Got Talent,” I should explain.

For my entire life I have carried the letter “X” with me. As you can see from my name, it has been easy for people to try to pronounce the “X” in my last name.

Most attempt to pronounce it as “Molin-X.” To make things easier, I usually tell people my first name “Joe” rhymes with my last name “Molineaux.” It is so rhythmic, in fact, that a song has been written on that very premise.

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I have taken to telling people that while the “X” may be silent, I am not. Clearly, I have embraced both my outer and inner “X” on a daily basis.

I also have valued the uniqueness of my name for many years. About 10 years ago, I started developing a business counseling concept that would utilize and capitalize on that uniqueness and the “X.”

I felt it could help clients. Ideal for those either looking to start or grow a business that was missing a key piece of information, unidentified skill or resource to move them forward.

The “X”, my “X,” represented the missing piece or key ingredient that needed to be discovered. In math, “X” is the unknown, the number needed for a problem to be solved, or in my case, a plan to move forward.

And my goal and plan was to be the person to help people discover their small business X-Factor.

Truthfully, I was not keeping up on television developments across the pond in Europe, or for that matter any other part of the world.

While I built a format around what I thought was an original concept, that was pretty much all I did.

I took no official action to move the idea forward. I simply filled a notebook or two with ideas to make the idea stronger.

When I opened a newspaper a few years ago while on vacation, I realized my idea was no longer my idea, because Simon Cowell was announcing the “X-Factor” was not only coming to America, it had been rocking the United Kingdom for some time.

I was very familiar with the Cowell’s “American Idol” franchise, of course, but not “The X-Factor.” I felt as if I had just had some creativity kicked out of me. And it didn’t feel good.

So does Cowell owe me money?

Not really.

Would my idea, had I debuted it, have grown and resulted in a groundbreaking discovery of a new business concept? Realistically, there was no chance of that happening, either.

But one thing is certain: There was no way I was presenting the idea at that point as an original idea. That window of opportunity had passed. “The X-Factor” train started rolling before I even bought a ticket for the trip.

Today’s Business Beats lesson is simple. If you have an original idea or what you think is an original idea for a product, concept, story, service or just a start of an idea: Take action.

In place today are opportunities to meet and speak with professionals that can assist you with everything from patents to trademarks and copyrights to developing trade secrets. secrets.

Even if you do not feel the time is right to develop the idea, you still have options.

Over the past 13 years, I have had the good fortune to assist people in designing, developing and helping them move original ideas forward.

By the way, please don’t read this column and feel bad that my idea did not move forward because someone else is using the name or a part of the concept. I will be fine.

I not only retooled what I was doing, but the fact that somebody else was doing something similar forced me to build a better, less likely to be duplicated, totally original and what in my mind is an even bigger and better idea.

The lesson I learned a few years ago has taught me well and I hope it helps move each of you forward with your own original ideas. Remember, an idea is just an idea without action.

Joe Molineaux, director of the Small Business Development Center at Richard Stockton College, can be reached at

More than 30 years’ experience reporting and editing for newspapers and magazines in Illinois, Colorado, Texas and New Jersey and 1985 winner of the Texas Daily Newspaper Association’s John Murphy Award for copy editing.

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