It only takes a quick trip to the local pub to learn that there are plenty of great business ideas floating around. But very few of those ideas ever gain any traction. Without the benefit of a chardonnay some ideas no longer seem so “great”. But even genuinely great ideas fail to get off the ground, simply because too few of us know what it takes to turn an idea into reality.
With innovation being crucial to business survival these days, knowing how to transform ideas into reality is a critical skill that all business owners, regardless of the shape or size of the business, need to hone.
We give you some tips and tricks to at least get you thinking about how you can start dusting off those great ideas and turning them into the next big thing.
Tip #1: Get a sounding board
The biggest problem with ideas can often be figuring out what the idea really is. We’ve all experienced that sense of being on the edge of a great idea but somehow unable to put your finger on exactly what the idea means or how it might work.
The best thing for any nascent idea is an open-minded sounding board. Find someone who is willing to listen to you as you talk things through and clarify your idea. That someone could be a friend that you walk with once a week, an experienced mentor whose opinion you respect or a formal business coach. (link business coach to Craig’s video)
Avoid talking your ideas over with highly opinionated people or those who want to impose their own ideas. Find someone who is truly willing to listen and ask questions so you can clarify your own idea, without getting tangled up in other people’s ideas and biases.
Tip #2 Do a reality check – try the press release trick
The downside of “great” ideas can be wasting your time and energy on ideas that don’t really stand up on close inspection. One trick worth trying is to invest an hour or so and write a press release for the launch of your new product or service.
There are two advantages to the press release approach. First it forces you to think from a customer perspective. Many times ideas seem brilliant because they have advantages for you and your business. But a great idea needs to seem great to the people who will ultimately pay you for it. When you write your press release does it sound like something that will excite your customers?
The second advantage of writing a press release is it will force you to distill your idea to its essence. This is going to be a huge help when it comes time to sell your idea to the staff and investors you will need to help you turn the idea into reality.
Tip #3 Turn your idea into specific goals
An idea will always stay simply an idea until you start to map out how to implement it using the resources you have available. Define the purpose of your idea (hopefully the press release trick has helped you here) and then set out clear, achievable and measurable goals. Now you have the basis for building a plan to make your idea a reality. (Link to Goal Setting video)
Tip #4 Learn to let go
Things change. Lessons are learned. Assumptions prove false. Not all great ideas are going to turn out to be the right idea for your business at the time. Once you’ve invested yourself emotionally and/or financially in an idea, it’s easy to become fixated on the importance of seeing the idea through to completion despite mounting evidence that the idea is not really “great”.
Continuous evaluation is critical to successfully turning ideas into reality, and sometimes that evaluation will tell you that the idea simply is not going to work. No matter how in love you are with an idea or how far down the track you have come, you must always be willing to let an idea go. Not only will letting go potentially avoid a potential loser, it will free up your resources to focus on another idea.
Tip #5 Wear failure as a badge of honour
People who take the risks associated with turning ideas into a reality are going to fail sometimes. It’s important to understand up front that it’s possible your brilliant idea may fail. If things don’t work out the way you intended don’t beat yourself up for trying. Instead congratulate yourself for being willing to take a risk, make a list of the lessons you have learned along the way and get working on your next great idea!
If you need a sounding board for your ideas or want help establishing a business plan MJA Business Solutions business coaches are here to help.