“Ideas are the beginning points of all fortunes.”
– Napoleon Hill
Last week, the best gift I could have gotten right now…happened. My podcast co-host and friend came to our recording session with an idea, hours talking about all of the ideas we had come up with over the past couple of weeks. It has been a couple of days since then and I am still smiling and laughing about our conversation. One of the most important things about that conversation wasn’t what we talked about, but rather about the fact that we, as business owners and entrepreneurs, were coming up with great ideas again. In the last year, all of my idea bandwidth had been sucked up by the pandemic. I have been so busy trying to adapt, adjust, and, at times, worry that there really was no room for any ideas to reach me. If an idea had tried to call me during the past year, it was getting a busy signal every time.
If you want to hear the podcast “Ideas” it drops Jan 6th check it out. CLICK HERE
I hope that, you are starting to feel a little less stress and starting to have some good ideas about your future and how you can change the world, or at least your little corner of the world.
In my years of working with people and helping them grow and nurture ideas into businesses, I have noticed a pattern of success.
Successful Idea Growing Process:
- Capture the essence of the idea (the more details the better)
I like to get a fresh sheet of paper and write it out. Other people will just create a voice recording and start there. There is no right or wrong way, just grab the idea while you can.
- What is the idea?
- Why is it a good idea?
- What problem is it solving?
- How does it work?
- Why do you like the idea?
- What inspired the idea?
- Let the idea marinate and expand
Sleep on it. Re-read your notes before you go to bed for a couple of nights or right away when you get up. Really reach into your thoughts to see if there are more details you want to add. I find that people can fill another two or three sheets of paper in that time.
- Do some research
Now is when you go to the web and do some research. Find out if this is an original idea or if this idea is already a success, just with someone else. You will also want to explore any thoughts you have on how to produce this if it is an item.
- Decide if you should spend more time expanding and growing this idea
This is the point where you ask yourself, “do I think this looks like it could be something?”. People pursue ideas for different reasons: some people want to change the world, some want to make money, some people just want to see if they can do it, and some people just want to leave a mark somewhere saying they did something. I could share stories about all of them. Your “Why” is personal and about you. If you do decide you want to continue exploring, Congratulations!
- Share the idea with a trusted partner or advisor
Typically, I tell people you don’t want to add people to the idea process until you have gotten all of your thoughts about the idea out and into the world. This is a very important part, and you need to pick very carefully who you share your idea with. If you share it with a logical and linear person, they tend to be very practical and may try to kill your idea. They don’t mean to do it – they just don’t think conceptually. However, that is what makes them great at a million other things. When you first share an idea you want to seek out another idea person – someone who knows how to grow and nurture an idea. Someone you might even partner with. Make sure you tell them that you had this idea and you want to lay it out for them. A good idea partner knows when they hear that, they just need to listen, encourage, and explore with you.
- Ask yourself – “Is now the right time for me to pursue this idea?”
It is so critical to pause for a moment and check in with your schedule, life, and brain to see if the timing is right to pursue this. The additional question is “where would the needed time and money to pursue this come from?”
If your answer is “Yes”, continue through the process.
If your answer is “No”, place the idea and all of the details in a safe place. You might even want to place an event in your calendar to review your idea in the future. Or, if “No”, you might also want to look into giving or selling this idea away to a company that could implement it. I had a great idea for a product fix, but I wasn’t going to take the time to implement it, and I didn’t want to shift my whole business into this market, so I called a couple of companies that could profit from my idea. Sure enough, I got hooked up to one company’s idea person and gave my idea to them. Now, a product I use every day has features that I need and love and, as it turns out, lots of other people love it too.
- IF “YES”
Now this goes from an IDEA into being a CONCEPT and INVESTMENT and moves into the start-up process, which is a whole other process we will talk about later this year.
Not all ideas are meant to make it into anything more than an idea. The reason for that can be a lot of things, but in my experience, timing with the market is typically the number one factor. A perfect example of that is one of my own. My mom and I had a really awesome idea, we made up samples, we talked to the right people in the market, and after our own small investment in supplies, prototypes, and lots of time, we realized that people liked our idea, they just were not going to spend money for our product. They didn’t see the same value in it the way we did. Fast forward five years to when Etsy is around, and guess what? A “not as good as our idea” is selling really well on there; I just went and searched it. As it turned out, it was all about the timing.
One of my favorite books to give and share is “What do you do with an idea?” by Kobi Yamanda
I hope these steps in the process have inspired you to listen to the ideas that come to you and give you a way to successfully harness those ideas into what could end up being your next million dollar idea.