Last time, we talked about using time away from your technology to cultivate ideas for business growth. Every entrepreneur needs this time to let their brain get creative. And as a working mom, you have the bonus of a lot of hours away from the computer. Hours that can serve double-duty as quality time with your kids and time for those ideas to germinate. (Don’t worry, you can focus on your kids and let some of these ideas just percolate in the subconscious).
But how do you capture these ideas, refine them, and turn them into revenue and profits for your business?
Everyone I talk to, (business owner or not) has ideas for a business. And business owners usually have a 101 different thoughts spinning at all times. So what is stopping all of these talented people from launching a business or turning an idea into a new revenue stream?
From the hundreds of people that I’ve talked to, it all boils down to this -
Overwhelm and no idea where to get started.
What do I do first? Who do I talk to? Do I build a website? Do I get funding? Which idea should I focus on? I have 10 different half-started projects -what do I do now?
I hear these questions all the time. Taking a raw idea to market is a big endeavor and, without a process in place, it’s overwhelming and much easier to move onto the next idea rather than spend the time implementing the original one.
So, what process can you use to capture, evaluate, and make forward progress on your ideas?
- Know your business’ overall Vision and Mission. Without these foundational aspects, you won’t have anything to measure your new idea against to make sure it’s in-line with where you want to go.
- Collect all of your ideas in one spot. I use Asana. I have one project for Goals and New Ideas. Every single half-baked, quick-thought, new idea goes onto this list. It’s a way for me to capture these ideas as they come to me (often when I’m in the middle of other work) and get back to what I was doing.
- Evaluate your new ideas. I love a schedule of recurring tasks, so each month I have a task to review all new ideas I’ve collected that month. Here’s what I do during this time -
- Take a new idea and judge how well it aligns with my Vision and Mission.
- Compare the new idea to current goals. Does the new idea advance one or more of those goals?
- Chunk down. If the new idea is in-line with my Vision, Mission, and current goals then it’s time to break it into steps and projects. What needs to happen to put this idea in front of paying customers? Some ideas may be as simple as sending out an email with some information and a link to an opt-in page. Other ideas may require partnership with someone else, and the first step is scheduling a meeting. Take your new idea and write down everything that must be created, all people to meet with, and other high-level requirements.
- Chunk down again. Take these high-level requirements and break them down into small tasks.
- Create a timeline. Review this project plan against your current schedule. What can be done now? What should be scheduled for a later date? With your current responsibilities, when could you complete these projects and bring your idea to market?
- Manage your priorities. Manage the priority of your new projects against your current work. How important are the new projects? How much do they advance your current goals? How do they compare with current and planned projects? (Sometimes it makes sense to pause your current work to focus on a great new idea. Other times it’s best to slot your new idea in after your current work is completed.) If you’re not sure how to manage priority, here’s a calculator to help you evaluate competing projects.
- Greenlight your new idea and get to work. Take the detailed project plans for your new projects and add them to your schedule. Focus on each small task, one at a time, and you’ll be making strategic forward progress on your new ideas rather than spinning in circles.
What’s your process for growing your business? How do you capture your ideas?