Ideas are both a gift and a curse. Good ideas can change the world. They can improve your financial and personal life. They can get you through big problems and into new possibilities. But too many ideas can lead to overwhelm, confusion, frustration and the paradox of (too many) choice(s).
Many creators, entrepreneurs and problem solvers are great at (lots of) ideas. This can also make them poor finishers. They can love the start and hate the grind. They can get excited and then get bored quickly. This meets a need for variety but also creates stop-start-stop-start and never quite finish. Your time is your most valuable asset, so invest it in any idea wisely and ruthlessly.
Here are 12 simple questions you can ask yourself when deciding (or procrastinating) on knowing which idea, choice or strategy to execute:
If you invest your time into this idea, will it it give you an ongoing residual return? Could it create passive income or outcome, or are you exchanging time for money and having to repeat the task over and over again?
How long will the idea (time) invested pay a return? Is it evergreen and never goes out of date, or both redundant soon and reliant on you? Could you love this idea or strategy for a long time, or are you likely to get bored or distracted? Will it endure and evolve over time or become quickly obsolete?
Could this idea bring in significant revenue? Could it liberate your time? Could it build your brand, reach and exposure? Which one idea of the many you may be juggling has the potential for 5x or 10x the benefit and return of all the others?
Is the strategy susceptible to market forces and changes? Can the competition easily copy or disrupt it? Can changes in regulation expose it? Or does it have security and longevity?
Whilst some ideas come to you at seemingly random times. many will come to you when high, manic, excited and motivated. For me, 95% of my ideas are in the 2 hours after my coffee. But that does not mean that 100% of them are good ideas. In fact many are terrible! Be wary and wise that you can have lots of ideas when excited, but the decision to implement them might be best made when more emotionally balanced and logical.
I have ‘The EVERNOTE test’. Every idea I get, I note in my ‘New Crazy Ideas’ Evernote folder. I park the idea, and test if it still nags away at me. I read the ideas every week or so, and can usually make a more balanced decision. Many ideas get immediately binned. Some get outsourced? Others get delayed and some stay and won’t go away, so I know they are ready to be actioned.
If you can start an idea or action, and then hand to over to someone to complete it, then you have leverage. Good start up creatives are wise to have finishers around them. Perhaps some of your ideas only need you at the start. Start them up and then set them free. You can manage monetise multiple ideas with this strategy. This is detailed in the book “Life Leverage”
Often good ideas are badly times and as such bad ideas. You can be too early for an idea, or too late, or with the wrong people, or at the wrong time for all you have going on. Assess the timing as well as the idea. You can always delay, which means you don’t kill the idea. You can always say ‘Yes, but not right now’, and revisit at a better time for you or the market.
One of my mentors and successful human behaviour expert John DeMartini has a friend whose entire business model is selling his ideas to others. He has made many millions leveraging his great skill, and outsourcing his weakness of finishing. Perhaps this model might suit you well? I interview John on my podcast the “Disruptive Entrepreneur” – http://bit.ly/disentpodcast
When you start an enterprise, you need to grab all the opportunities you can. You may not get as many as you want at the start, and you will need to make things happen not wait for them to happen. As you become more successful, you will bring in more opportunities than you can handle, and as such saying no becomes more important. Some are better at saying yes than no, and vice versa. Are you self aware of your tendencies and habits. Evolve this over time to match the amount of opportunities you are creating or attracting.
Be self aware and honest enough to know when you are taking on too much. You can’t blame the world when you are too busy and overwhelmed. You allowed the demands on your time. Know your capacity, but as you grow gently expand what you take on, as you will be able to handle more, the more experience you gain.
Seek out those who have succeeded in the area you are moving into, and get their wisdom, experience and counsel. Many people say ‘learn from your mistakes’, I say ‘learn from the mistakes of others’. It’s good to get the idea out of your head and bounced off other people. They will look at it in a way that may not have occurred to you. There is such a thing as too many mentors so don’t use this as an excuse to procrastinate.
If in doubt, test. You may never know until you create a small, safe environment to test the idea. Gerald Ratner, who I interviewed on my podcast, ran ads selling gym memberships BEFORE he bought the gym. Once he had proof of the demand, he was confident to buy the building. You can test ideas by asking potential and existing customers about your new products and services before you spend ages building something that has little or no demand.
You can save these questions in a folder. Each time you get overwhelmed, have the paradox of too many choices, or just need to stress test an idea, go though this quick set of questions. You don’t need to tick every box, just enough of them to hit the button and execute the idea into income or outcome.