Ask the Coach — Week 17

This is the column where, each week, I’ll be answering one website visitor’s question in hopes of supporting all visitors through shared (and likely, relevant) challenges, triumphs, and struggles.

Dear Kerri,

I have what I think is a great business idea that I’m eager to pursue. My problem is I keep getting in my own way by feeling overwhelmed with all the ideas swimming around in my head — thoughts of how to monetize my concept, how to make it a reality, is it really a good idea at all, etc. How do I get myself to settle down so I’m sure to explore this possibility fully?

Frazzled in Frankfurt

Dear Frazzled,

Oh how easy it is to get swept up in the excitement of a new idea! I know exactly what you are feeling.

Here are some quick tips to help you get a handle on your idea and start exploring the possibilities of it:

Sounding board. Choose someone in your life whose opinion and thinking you respect and trust, and share your idea with him or her. Be sure to pick the right kind of support during this vulnerable time. You want someone who can hold you up, cheer you on, help you see potential pitfalls in a loving way, and be willing to brainstorm with you. Avoid those who sort by the negative, who swim in the “misery loves company” pool, or who are extremely unhappy in their own lives. Chances are they won’t want to support you in succeeding because you’d be highlighting for them what they’re not doing.

Research. Do a bit of research on your idea. What similar services or products are out there right now and how do they compare to yours? What are they missing? What do they include that’s valuable and sexy? Be careful to not lose hours in research. Lots of people do that as a way of avoiding taking their idea further. Certainly explore the market and potential competition; just put a time limit on it each time you start surfing the Web.

Idea notebook. This valuable little tool is the first place I go when I need my head to quiet down about a new idea or product. While, over the years, my “notebook” has evolved into a document on my computer, it is where I go to honor and capture each and every thought I have about my new pursuit. By writing them all down, I take comfort in knowing I don’t need to house them in my head and that I can come back to the document and add or delete as necessary. This action alone is so calming.

Step-By-Step. Once you’ve collected your thoughts and ideas, the next best action is to ask yourself, “What is my very next step?” If your answer to that question feels overwhelming still, take it as a sign to break down the step even more. For example, if you were to say your next step is to call John to discuss an aspect of your idea, but that feels scary, perhaps your next step is to prepare questions for your call to John. See what I mean? Break it down, break it down, oh, and break it down some more. This is THE secret to success. Slow and steady really does win the race. The turtle wasn’t kidding.

Get Your Hands Dirty. After all of this preliminary work, now it’s time to get your hands dirty so you can cull out other aspects that need your attention. You can do this by organizing a brainstorming session with some friends and friends of friends. Again, hand pick the participants. Have them be from different worlds, professions, ages, genders, etc. Bounce your business idea off them, including all the information you’ve gathered thus far. Make your presentation concise, yet comprehensive. Ask not only for their feedback, but for other ideas, and, equally as important, how much they’d expect to pay for this particular product or service.

I hope these suggestions help get you started on fleshing out your idea. Remember, ONE step at a time!

Go for it!

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