Q: I'm the kind of person who thinks up a new idea almost every day. Over the past six months or so, I've come up with a few ideas, not taken action for one reason or another (usually because I'm not convinced of the validity of the ideas) and have seen those ideas appear as products or services elsewhere in the market. What I'm struggling with right now is how I can determine which of my ideas has the most potential so I can be motivated to pursue them.
A: You appear to be a person who has a lot of creativity and is just beginning to unleash it. That process can be both exhilarating and daunting. Many entrepreneurs are blessed (some would say cursed) with having "idea overflow." The key is learning how to weed out the weak ideas so you don't lose energy (and motivation) for the strong ones.
The first thing I recommend is making a grid that outlines the parameters for running with an idea. This might contain sections such as money required, time involved, the field or industry the idea pertains to, the complexity of the idea (rate it) and the potential target market. You'll use this to dissect each of your ideas so you can see what you'll need to pursue the idea. You can also use it to kick out ideas that aren't within your reach or require a lot of effort in an area not motivating to you. For example, if you have an idea but it would take $2 million to launch it, staying motivated to pursue this idea will be very hard, until you eliminate the hurdle of adequate financing.
You should also have your grid reflect and measure which values of yours the idea aligns with. When we tie our actions to our values, great motivation results as we are now motivated from within and not by external forces. I suspect if one of your values is preserving the environment, for example, you probably won't have much motivation to pursue your idea for colored Styrofoam packing peanuts.
You may want to plug several of your "old" ideas into the grid to see how they stack up-especially those that were later developed and implemented by others. The grid can help you see what blocked you. How did the person who did implement your idea get around that block? What were the payoffs for implementing an idea you didn't pursue? (That in itself can be highly motivating.)
Finally, take one idea (preferably a simple one) and take it through the grid and on to implementation. Successfully launching one idea will definitely motivate you to tackle others.
Sharon Keys Seal is a Baltimore-based business, career and personal coach. Her clients include entrepreneurs, business owners, managers and executive directors of nonprofits. She works to help her clients articulate and achieve their professional and personal goals, while enhancing their focus and improving their effectiveness and productivity. Sharon welcomes questions and comments from readers. You may contact her at (410) 433-0011, or visit her at www.CoachingConcepts.com.
The opinions expressed in this column are those of the author, not of Entrepreneur.com. All answers are intended to be general in nature, without regard to specific geographical areas or circumstances, and should only be relied upon after consulting an appropriate expert, such as an attorney or accountant.