Good ideas come to us all every day, passing by like clouds in the sky. However, a relatively few number of people manage to act on them effectively.
We drive home from work, are struck with inspiration, pat ourselves on the back and move on.
Our business, is built upon turning out ideas on a daily basis, and below is a trick that helps us find success.
1. Develop a low friction way to capture your ideas.
Inspiration can happen anytime and anywhere. And not long after it occurs, it can just as easily be gone.
You need a quick and easy way to capture those fleeting gems. A few tools that I use and keep with me at all times are Siri on my iPhone, and a notebook specifically for capturing ideas.
Using Siri on your iPhone or iPad
- Press and hold the “home” button on your iPhone or iPad.
- Say “take a note”
- Siri will automatically place your dictation in your Notes app.
My favorite notebook for capturing ideas
Rhodia is highly ranked and recommended amongst paper enthusiasts, which I am not. But if you scour the enthusiast websites for superior stationary – Rhodia is a recurring theme.
For me, the paper quality is great, and I feel good knowing that technically astute paper aficionados have given it the thumbs up.
2. Determine what your filter is for selecting ideas to execute on
Wired magazine co-founder and technologist, Kevin Kelly has a great filter that he uses when deciding on projects to embark on.
Picture a Venn diagram with 3 circles intersecting. In order to embark on a project, the three criteria must be true:
- Something that people need
- Something that I’m good at
- Can or will anybody else do it
For the third point, you may have an idea that is marginally better than anything else that is currently available. But decide on a filter that makes sense in order to help you prioritize and vet which ideas to take action on.
3. Begin with the end in mind and work backwards
As Einstein famously noted, if you can’t explain something simply you do not understand it well.
Begin by describing your idea in great detail as if it has already happened.
- What does it look like?
- Who uses it?
- How do they use it?
- When and where do they use it?
- Where do they buy it?
- How do you sell it to them?
- How do you make it?
If you cannot answer these types of questions, you will need to do some creative thinking in order to paint a clear picture for yourself.
4. Decide on your first step
At our company we work in 2 week worlds using Sprints to break down larger projects.
Once you have fleshed out your idea, you want to determine the first step, and lowest cost method to validate it as soon as possible.
The best way to validate an idea is to see if someone would be willing to write you a cheque. If it is not an idea that you intend to monetize, decide on a different metric that would help provide quantifiable feedback for you. Give yourself a target of 1 month to get a website or Facebook page up and see if you can get anyone to take action.
Thanks to services like Shopify, Etsy, WordPress templates and Facebook storefronts, it is getting easier and easier for anyone to start a business or create a product or service for next to zero upfront cost.
Whatever your big ideas, working through these 4 simple steps will help allow you to turn them into reality.