7 Steps to Taming the Idea Monster

Also known as the shiny object syndrome or our ADD culture. The idea monster grows more bloated every day until we tame it. If you are like  every business other owner you have more ideas than you can possibly execute. And you get more ideas every day.

And when you search for information and resources on how to execute on those ideas, you are overwhelmed by the sheer volume. So you do nothing.

Does that sound familiar?

It should, because it almost certainly plays itself out in your life and aspects of your business. The good news is that there are parts of your life and business where you are good at evaluating ideas, learning about how to do them and executing on them.

Successful business owners prioritize ideas and execute on them one at a time.

  1. They have a way to evaluate ideas.

  2. They invest in learning how to execute on them.

  3. They stay with it until it succeeds, no matter how long it takes or how many iterations it goes through.

 

When is the last time you did that? Really? Because we all have in some aspects of our lives, at some times in our lives or with some teams in our lives. Recall it, think about it and think about how you will do that again. Now. With one really promising idea.

 

Here’s a 7 step process for Taming the Idea Monster

1. List all of them

Information and ideas belong somewhere other than your brain. Use your brain for working, not storage.

The act of listing your ideas will clarify your thinking. As you articulate them, you will realize that some of your ideas are not suitable, realistic, possible or desirable for you and your business.

 

2. Know your values

We all know that family, kindness, integrity etc are important values. That being said, we all have different values that are important to us. For instance, my values are fun, learning, ecology and community. I love my 4 kids. I love to travel. When I did a values exercise, I didn’t get family or travel, I got fun, learning, ecology and community. I engage in my family and travel with fun, learning, ecology and community.

Knowing that helps me to do another cull of my ideas. If they aren’t about fun, learning, using resources wisely or building community, then they aren’t for me.

If you haven’t done an exercise to figure out your values, here is a link to an exercise http://businessownerssuccessclub.wordpress.com/2013/01/15/discovering-your-values/

Doing this is an eye-opening experience. Once you discover your values, you will find that some of your past choices make more sense to you.

 

3. Clear Vision

Where are you headed? Are you building a business to sell? Or a business to give you a specific lifestyle? Are you focussed on providing an income?

We are constantly told how to grow our businesses bigger. But if that’s not what you want, it doesn’t make sense to follow up on any of those ideas. On the other hand, if bigger is where we want to go, then leadership, team building, culture and developing brand ideas are the ones to follow.

My vision is centred pretty squarely around community. If new ideas don’t lead me in that direction, they are dropped.

 

4. Your Business Model

Who are your customers? What problem are you solving for them? Where do you get your revenue? Who cares about what you do?

Lean Canvas and Business Model Canvas are both great tools for clearly articulating your business model. It helps to be very clear on your revenue model and on what’s important for your customers.

If an idea doesn’t support your business model, or actively works against it – drop it.

 

5. Your Story Your Identity Your Brand

Who are you? How do people see you? How do you see yourself? Ask. It’s the only way you will know for sure.

Which ideas fit with that? If people see you as logical and you get all emotional on them, or if they see you as human and approachable and you get all facts and figures on them, everyone will end up confused.

Be who you are and really own it.

 

6.Think Strategically About How

By now, you should have a shortlist of ideas. Ideas that fit your values, vision and business model.

Spend some time thinking through each of these ideas strategically. This is what strategic planning is all about.

Think through what results you can expect – best case and worst case.

What resources do you need to implement the idea? What will it take to get those resources?

7. Now Choose

Armed with this, which do you want to do first? Which will you make your highest priority? Which excited you? Which are you willing to commit yourself to seeing succeed?

 

Now Execute!

That’s it. That’s your process for evaluating ideas. You will find that focusing on one idea, will make it easier to ignore other ideas.

Now that you know your values, your vision and your business model, continue running any new ideas through those considerations before adding them to your ongoing idea list. Each time you complete the implementation of an idea, go back to your list to choose your next idea.

Tell Us How You Did

Do you recognize this? – maybe not explicitly stated in these words. Where have you used this in your life before? How did you do with this process? Please share below.

Drowning in Ideas

Do you ever feel this way?

Like you have so many ideas that you are drowning in them?

You don’t know which ones to do first. They are all great ideas and they would work – probably. Other people have made them work for their business. You can make them work for you, too.

They all come with pieces you don’t know how to do, especially around technology. Podcasts are a great idea and you can even see yourself doing them. But. What mic to use? What software? Where and how to post them? Video is good. Writing articles. Making signs. Doing PR. Automating. All of it, would be great, but how?

The information is all out there. You can fill your day just reading, listening to podcasts and watching videos showing you how what to do to succeed in your business. Some of it is great and some of it is fluff. How do you find the good stuff? Really, I want to know your methods for finding the good stuff.

Most of it is for online business. Dig even a little and it turns out it’s all about online business. Great ideas, but how do they help you with your store, restaurant or service business? Hint: your customers are online, too. Feeling as overwhelmed as you.

Lean Canvas is a powerful tool for helping you see very clearly, where you should concentrate in your business and what is most important to your customers. Here’s a great online ebook to show you how the lean canvas is used for startups. I’m hosting a workshop on how to use Lean Canvas as a tool for offline businesses that are past the startup phase. https://youreffortlessbusiness.wordpress.com/business-strategy-workshop-series/

Lean Canvas isn’t just for Startups

The lean canvas  is a tool used by Startups to model a business idea. There are several versions, but they all have you think through essentially the same things: your customers, how you interact with them, and their problem that you are solving. Further they ask you to outline revenue and costs.

When used properly, it is designed for you to make several lean canvases with different assumptions on each one.

For instance, you may want to make an app for shared rides to and from other-than-school classes (band practice, teams, dance or music lessons). You identify several distinct user groups: after school kids, other than school kids, adults. Each group has different needs, wants and desires. In several cases the user is not the payer – parents pay, but kids get the lift.

A lean canvas is made for each user group and the riskiest bit in each scenario is identified. Those risks are tested to see which of those scenarios is the most likely to succeed. As you do that testing, you will be looking for all feedback that will help you refine your offering. For instance (yes, I played with this one) I thought the riskiest bit would be that parents were afraid to let their kids travel with ‘strangers’ (really just other parents that they could all get to know), but the feedback from parents was that even though they found the driving around irritating, they felt it was a way to show their parental love. That’s a tough one to overcome. If one were to pursue this app, we would have to show how this app would help parents in showing parental love, by maybe pointing out that not driving meant a home cooked meal.

You can see how this is a valuable tool for a startup that is trying to figure their way forward.

Can you use it in your traditional, mature business?

You bet you can!

In fact, you have a huge advantage, because you have access to your customers, right?

Start by making a canvas for each of your product/service offerings and each of your customer groups. for instance, if you had a women’s clothing store, you might have a canvas for business attire, for dressy and for casual. Your customer groups may be business women and retired women. Once you start playing with mixing and matching those, you get a better understanding of which group buys each of your offerings and what they are most interested in with them?

Then ask them. Start by asking them why they come to you. When I asked my bookkeeping customers why they came to me, they didn’t talk about competence, timeliness or adherence to regulations, no, they talked about comfort, relief and assurance. That changed the way I set up my service, how I offered it and the story I told to attract the right customers for me.

Think about your favourite customers. What do they buy? When? How?

How can you do that, only more?

What service is important to them? Back to the women’s clothing store: can you spin that service off as a value-add or as a paid option? Personal buyer, private viewings, trunk shows?

As you can see this is a great tool for strategic thinking for every business. What do you think?

If you would like to learn more, join me for our Lean Canvas is not just for Startups Workshop.