Handling Your Great, Good, and Bad Ideas: A 3-Step Process, Part 1

May 3, 2011 | Competing in Today's Economy, General, Getting Out of a Business Slump, Low Cost Marketing

Here’s something that’s critical if you are going to build a better business: learn to act on your great ideas, nurture your good ones, and discard your bad ones.

But this is easier said than done, especially for most owners of businesses.  You see, most owners are extremely creative people with ideas constantly popping up in their heads every day.

Do you recognize yourself?  If so, this blog post is for you.

I see it all the time.  Most owners keep lists and pages of their ideas.  Owners are great note-takers and list-makers. The problem comes finding time to act on those ideas.  Rather than devoting time to work on them (what companies call innovation time, or research and development), most owners work in their businesses and will do anything to NOT work on their ideas.  For example, some owners read trade publications, talk to business owners in their same field, and attend industry conferences, and when they return, they are thoroughly overloaded with more ideas, piles of notes and scribbles of thoughts, and magazines where they’ve highlighted every word in yellow.

Face it. You have more ideas than you need!  And I’m including the bad ideas you get from people who come up to you, knowing very little about your business, who say: “You should do this, if you want to make more money.”

Do the math, and collectively, you have some great ideas mixed in with a bunch of good ideas, about half-a-ton of not so good ideas, and a couple of hundred ideas that you don’t know if they’re good or not, and a few that you wrote down or heard that you don’t understand.

Then, I come around and tell you to reinvent your business as a Destination which really puts you in overload (it shouldn’t; my stuff’s the easiest).

Here is the first step in the process to help you handle your great, good, and bad ideas.

Today I will share the First Idea.  #2 and #3 will appear in this blog in the next two days.

#1 Step: Remember that there is only one you.

“There is only one you”.  What does that mean?  It means that you are limited in what you alone can accomplish as one person.  Your parents used to say “There is only one you” but they meant that you were like a shining star or unique like a snowflake.  And though you might have been and maybe are now, I don’t mean it that way.

Put another way: You are just one person trying to handle too much.

But, you might say, “Wait, it’s not just me!”  You might say this because you have a supportive partner or spouse or good employees who are likewise focused on your business.  Yes, this support is wonderful, but that makes a few more “kind-of-like yous”, and even though your spouse might be infinitely more talented than you and right on the same page, that only means there is at most, just one more than you.

And yes, some of you have brilliant people working for you.  They can take some responsibility for handling different ideas.  But deep down, you know that there is a reason your employees work for you and don’t have their own businesses.  They are not you, and some aren’t even like you. They don’t wake up in the middle of the night in a cold sweat, thinking how to make payroll the next day. They sleep at night while you are up thinking of the hundreds of ideas that caused you to sit up in bed.  They don’t agonize over that customer your business just lost, and that sale that just walked out the door.  Deep down, they are less committed.

Granted, there are other possibilities to have more people help you with your ideas.  You can delegate responsibilities to others (though most owners don’t do this real well because you have a tendency to be a little controlling, oh, snowflake that you are).  Yes, delegation is a possibility.

But let me come back to what I said: There is only one you.  And you know it, and for the most part, the really great ideas that are percolating around up there will have to be put into practice by you.

Tomorrow, we’ll cover the reality of having too many ideas, and what to do about it.

RECENT BLOGS

Main Street Iowa adds Destination Creation Course to State’s Business Training Programs

The Iowa Downtown Resource Center, one of the leading Main Street State programs in the nation, will offer Jon Schallert’s Destination Creation Course to Iowa small business owners starting this year. Robin Bostrom, one of two Business Specialists in the nine-person...