Let’s tackle both sides of the business coin: how to generate great ideas, and how to make sure they happen. Without one or the other, your business is sunk.
And both imagination and knowledge are inadequate if there is no action to follow through with it.
How To Generate Ideas
First, let’s look at how to generate great ideas. The types of ideas that can help you stand out from the crowd, add a new revenue stream to your business, or take you into a new market successfully.
The first step is to plant the seed. Take a step back from your day to day activities and think about the problem you want to solve or the thing you want to achieve.
Define the problem, and ask a good question.
Then, let your subconscious do the work and go for a walk, exercise, take a shower or a nap.
Allow the solution and the ideas to bubble up to the surface. Then write them down!
The missing link for most of us is the step between the idea and the action. For me in my business what has worked really well is to capture these ideas, and even if I don’t plan to use it right away I don’t need to worry about losing it.
You can use pen and paper, Evernote, or an internal company wiki. Whatever works for you.
Idea Execution and Implementation
Now it’s time to combat the age old “great idea, poor execution” problem.
If you’ve ever watched Shark Tank or Dragon’s Den (my guilty pleasure when I go back to visit family in Canada!), then you know that the basis of the show is that a bunch of entrepreneurs present their businesses and ideas to ask for venture capital.
What I want you to pay special attention to the next time you watch is how the Sharks evaluate businesses: not on ideas but on who is going to be executing and implementing the idea.
They know that anyone can come up with a great idea, but that not everyone is suited to take that idea to market and make it a reality.
One thing that stops people from taking action on a great idea is that they don’t have the means to make it real so that it’s up to their standards. For example, you might not know how to make a super fancy website, but you can learn to build a simple one.
From there, you’ve got momentum and you can re-invest and bring things up to your vision’s standards.
As Seth Godin would say, you need to ship. Get your idea to market so you can make money, and then you can always come back and improve things over time.
Our vision is always going to be bigger than what we can realistically implement today with our current capabilities.
But without taking the very first step, there is no way we can improve. Breaking down a big idea into bite sized steps is the best way to actually implementing what you know is possible.
Then, putting it on your calendar with actual due dates and a timeline that you can’t chicken out on is key. Think about what obstacles might come up to stop you, and how you can clear a path for this idea to really happen.
You can also go one step further and throw your hat over the fence: tell other people and get public accountability for what you say you’re going to do.
Then make sure you follow my advice from this “Get Things Done” video, and apply energy management techniques like “batching is bitching” and now I’ll leave you with my favorite Nathalie-ism:
Now I’d love to hear from you!
What helps you come up with great ideas? And how do you follow through on them once you get them? Leave a comment below, I’m all ears!