I know I’m not the only person this happens to…
You’re on a run listening to a podcast, or just letting your mind wander; or you’re in the shower, and you start brainstorming ideas for your business; or you’re at a conference listening to someone speak about a topic you’re very interested in…
In any case, something pops into your mind and you think, “Wow, this is a REALLY great idea!”
What comes next?
Well, you might continue to think on it for a bit and ask yourself things like, “Is this really integral to my business?”; or “Will this really contribute to me reaching the goals I’ve set for myself, or will it simply be another distraction?”; or maybe even something like, “Is this a profitable idea?”
I tend to immediately start thinking about the logistics of it all: “What’s my first step to making this happen, and then what else needs to happen after that for it to become something?”
And more often times than not, if it’s something I truly believe is a great idea and I want to turn it into something – and I’m really fired up about it – I say to myself, “As soon as I get back from my run / get out of the shower / return home from this conference, I’m going to START!”
Has this ever happened to you before?
As entrepreneurs, we have a lot going on. Not only are we trying to build our own business, but we’re also oftentimes distracted by the approximately 34-ish “great ideas” we come up with in a given day. And if we’re going to be honest with ourselves, we have to admit that several of those “great ideas” are just that: a distraction from what we should really be focusing on.
But what about those instances when we really do have a great idea and we want to turn it into something? They do exist, ya know!
Good news: there are some steps you can follow if you’re serious about taking action on an idea that will ensure it’s not just another great idea gone to waste. Let’s check them out:
1. Write it down
If you’re not in a position to write your idea down, that’s the first thing you should do when you return from your run or get out of the shower. Literally write it down.
Be as detailed as possible so that the next time you look at it, you’re not left wondering, “Wait, what was I thinking again?” This is especially important if you see this idea intermingling with other things you have going on currently, or if you already have a specific goal in mind (i.e. I think this idea is so great because…).
2. Ask for feedback
Of course we all want to think our great ideas are truly GREAT ideas, but in my experience, they’re usually GREAT ideas in the moment, not necessarily in the long run.
Before you jump to the next step and start creating an action plan, ask your peers for feedback. You want to be sure that whatever you’re about to dedicate your time and resources to is going to have the impact on others that it has had on you.
3. Create an action plan
If step 2 worked out for you, then start putting a plan in place for execution. Before you can start doing something, you need to have certain things in place, like what your goal / purpose is, and a timeline to help hold yourself accountable.
If you’re already feeling overwhelmed just thinking about creating an action plan, here are some tips to help make the process more manageable.
4. Just start
Take that first step as soon as possible. Don’t put all the work in from steps 1 – 3 only to let it sit and collect dust.
The sooner you take the first step and invest your precious time in your idea, the more likely you are to actually continue working on it. It might be drawing out a mind map, creating an outline, researching data you need, or any other small piece of the pie. Whatever it is, don’t wait a week to start – start right away.
5. Celebrate milestones
I don’t need to tell you how important motivation is, and by celebrating even the smallest milestones throughout your project, you’re not only creating positive momentum, but you’re also allowing yourself a little break.
Ideas come to us in funny places and sometimes we’re not necessarily in a position to take action right away. This makes it tough to turn great ideas into something, especially with competing priorities and not a lot of time.
If you find that you’re missing out on a lot of great ideas because you don’t have a system in place to actually turn them into something, try following the steps above.