How To "Build A Business" - The Truth No One Will Ever Tell You
Rather than trying to pursue to huge idea upfront (which everyone does), you need to be able to either break it up into manageable chunks *or* build up your momentum doing smaller jobs.
This is especially true within the "technology" industry; large companies such as Microsoft and Oracle all had a pedigree in consultation - a model which allowed the fledgling companies to earn money whilst learning their craft.
This might sound simplistic but it's actually relatively little-known. The reason is because it's not "sexy"... people would rather "pitch" for $500k up front than build a reputable source of cashflow in the interim. I've been in both positions, so I know exactly what the mindset is that leads to either.
The point is that if you're able to consider taking a "slower" path, you will typically get the chance to actually implement your ideas in your own time anyway. Apart from having the benefit of learning / perfecting your craft (whilst getting paid), you also don't have the added strain / stress that typically comes from a venture-funded startup.
The only downside, of course, is time. It takes a LOT of time to create any sort of business, let alone one that you are using as a "stepping stone" to greater things. To this end, if you're looking at pursuing this path, you have to appreciate the overall model (rather than just looking at it quite simply).
The way it works is that if you have an "idea" you wish to implement, you first need an audience who are interested in that idea. This is the primary issue for most designers & entrepreneurial people - they tend to become obsessed with the idea and forget that people actually need to know about it. By working on a "consultancy" / "service" - level basis before trying to implement the idea.
We've found that if you're able to build up at least $10,000 before embarking on an idea, it really does go a long way to help you make significant progress. On top of this, we've had it before that you were able to actually build parts of the end product whilst doing work on behalf of others. I know for sure that this is partly how Oracle was originally created.
To this end, you should never write off the long grind behind the scenes. Not only does it make you more attuned to the business environment, but ensures that you're able to get the most out of any work you actually put out into the world.