You’ve got a great idea. You’ve maybe done some googling on it. But now you’re stuck. What do you do? Where do you go next?
Keep it safe.
If you’re one of those people who has ideas, you probably have LOTS of ideas. Yet, for an unknown reason, if we don’t consciously discipline ourselves to do so, we rarely keep them safe. We don’t write them down, even if it’s a great idea. Or we scribble it on a beer mat and then take it home and it ends up in the bin.
So start with the best materials (a good notebook and an expensive pen). Before you snub notebooks, Richard Branson is famed for carrying around a notebook to jot down ideas, contacts, problems and solutions. If Richard Branson does it, it’s worth considering.
Write down every single idea. Even if you think it’s impossible. The act of writing it down gives it value, records it and keeps it safe. The idea might not be right for now, but it might be right when your circumstances change, or when you need inspiration.
Brainstorm in a pink hat.
Ok now you’re getting crazy. Why a pink hat? Because a lot of us are afraid to be wild. Have people look at us. Do something that scares us. This is about getting really creative when you’re brainstorming, bringing every idea to the table. Even if it’s illegal. I’m not condoning DOING the illegal thing, just having the idea, letting your brain come up with anything and everything.
Here’s an example. Let’s say we need a boat, and we are brainstorming ways of coming up with one. Here are my first few ideas:
- Buying one
- Renting one
- Borrowing one
- Stealing one
- Building one
- Stowing away on one
- Hijacking one
- Getting one as a gift
- Getting one left to me in a will
- Mending an old one
As I said, this is not about deciding which path to take. This is just a way to get your brain to think about the problem in a different way. You can then look at the reason you need a boat and that can help direct the next round of brainstorming. The best way to do this is to compete to come up with the most creative. When you’re all wearing pink hats, some ideas might seem entirely normal.
Take a little step
This process is called Backwards Flowchart and it’s a process taught by Barbara Sher. Work out what your end goal looks like. Don’t be afraid to dream big. (This is a great post from @marcwinn on dreaming big). Then work backwards. What is the last action you will take before the dream is finished? What is the one before that? And the one before that? Keep going until you have a little step you can take today. And then do it.
Try out your idea. Build in Beta. Give the idea a life and a voice even if it’s not perfect. Because it is not perfect. Write the first chapter and read it to someone out loud. Or if that’s too scary, ring up your best friend and ask them to read it. Or if you’re feeling daring, hand it out on the street with a business card and ask people to get back to you. The founders of the Innocent Smoothies brands famously handed out the first batch of smoothies at a festival. They had two large plastic bins, one labelled ‘Yes’ and one labelled ‘No’. At the end of the festival, the Yes bin was full so they resigned from their jobs and started the business.
Try it out. There is no point in sitting around for years wondering whether it will work and sketching ideas on bits of paper. Take action, however imperfect it is and get trying it out. Yes, it’s scary, but if you don’t do it, you’ll be reading this blog post again in a year thinking: “Why didn’t I do something sooner?”
Over to you
So what ideas are you hoping to get moving on? Post them in the comments below or on our Facebook page.