In 2009, a dental hygienist walked onto the set of American Inventor and introduced the panel to what looked like a bin liner. He went on to explain the bin liner was actually a device that allows you to discretely take a pee in public.
He named it the ‘Bladder Buddy’.
He was flabbergasted when not one of the investors wanted to go into business with him. However he wouldn’t be the first person to have put so much energy into his idea only to discover the world didn’t share the same enthusiasm. In my life, thus far, I have had a number of business ideas ranging from coffee shops to martial arts schools. I would get all excited, spend weeks looking into them and then find my motivation sliding as I discovered they weren’t as great as I first thought.
We are all guilty, from time to time, of being the cheerleader for our own ideas, going hell-for-leather running on enthusiasm without stopping and actually analysing whether the idea has real potential. Too many half completed ideas have been left in the creative graveyard because the process was doomed from the start.
When I work with my clients to turn their ideas into reality, I make sure they answer the following 3 questions as we explore the ‘fabric’ of their idea. As you go through the questions, maybe you have an idea you are thinking of pursuing and you can also use these questions to make a concrete assessment of whether it is worthwhile.
What is the Purpose of Your Idea?
In the example above, I had an idea to open a coffee shop. So its purpose was to make money. Now that I knew this, it made me look at whether opening up a coffee shop to make money was the right choice, given other factors like my age (young at that time) and current circumstances (just out of university, a desire to travel and living with my parents). Had I asked this question sooner, I might have saved myself time making plans and finding vacant buildings as potential locations.
When you think about your idea, ask yourself ‘what is the purpose for the idea?’ Is it to potentially make money? Is it just for personal satisfaction, like joining a club or learning a new skill? When you have found out the purpose, it is going to give you more of a clarity on whether this is an idea to spend your time on.
Has it Survived the Delay Test?
Last year I coached an entrepreneur who felt he was trying to ‘spin many plates at the same time’. He was overworked and his health was being affected. It transpired one of his main issues was that he would meet with his business partner each week and come up with at least one new idea that could be implemented right away. This had become a problem because he was starting to spread himself too thinly on ideas that had little value and took his focus away from his more profitable businesses.
When we have a new idea, it prompts a burst of excitement that can cause our brain to think up many possibilities related to that idea. Our emotions can take over and before you know it, you’re on American Inventor pitching a bin liner you can pee in. The delay test aims to prevent you from making that mistake.
When you get an idea, write it down (or draw it) and then leave it for about a week. When you go back and read the idea ask yourself whether you still get the same buzz you got when you first had the idea. If you do, then it is worth thinking about further; if not, you can ditch it, saving you time to work on ideas that did survive the delay test.
What Resources do You Need?
My idea for a coffee shop was doomed from the start when I consider the lack of resources available to me at the time. I had no money, no experience of running an operation like that and I was not a good candidate for the sizeable loan, due to my age. However my idea to go travelling and begin training to become a coach was possible with the resources that were readily available and so, it was much easier for me to implement.
With all ideas, there is a need to obtain sufficient resources in order to be able to execute them. For a writer, the only resources needed are pen and paper. For larger projects you may need to access resources such as money, other peoples expertise or a particular area of knowledge.
When you look at the idea(s) you have, make a list of all the resources you are going to need to get them started. If necessary, ask other people who have done similar projects what they think will be required. If you find you have all the resources necessary, you may be good to go and get started. If you find that you have hardly any of the resources necessary it is important you ask yourself;
‘Am I prepared to spent the time necessary in order to get these resources’?
Ultimately, enthusiasm can only take you so far. In an age where more is possible than ever before, it is important you stop occasionally and ask yourself whether this idea you are going for is a worthwhile use of your time or whether there is another equally great idea that you could be pursuing instead.
Article by Aaron Morton
Aaron Morton is the creator of The Confidence Lounge. A platform where you can discover how to turn your ideas into reality. Aaron works with individuals who want to earn money on-the-side from their job, using the skills and talents they already have. If you want to learn more about igniting that confidence inside you, go to The Confidence Lounge.