AS entrepreneurs, our minds are constantly filling with new ideas. Unfortunately for many of us, our concepts rarely make it to the execution stage. Instead, we subconsciously create excuses that stifle our progress and prevent us from fulfilling our plans. Have you ever said “I can’t share my idea, because someone might steal it or think that it’s terrible.” “They might tell me something I don’t want to hear.” “It might be a failure!” “I might feel stupid.” The list goes on and on.
If this sounds familiar, I’m here to tell you that you’re not alone. Fears and negative internal dialogue are real, and they happen to the best of us. What counts is rising above these mental roadblocks and finding a way to turn those ideas into reality.
The fact is that great ideas demand action. All of the best ventures begin as mere ideas, but they don’t stay in the concept stage. Instead, they’re the result of calculated risk, of taking that leap — even when it would have been easier to go with the flow. Success doesn’t come about through good ideas alone. It’s the result of action — of having the courage to bring an idea to the surface and refine it into gold.
If you’re full of good ideas and ready to take them to the next level, here are some tips that will help you to put those plans into motion.
- Don’t fear failure.
“A few people are afraid of good ideas,” writes best-selling author and marketer Seth Godin. “But many people are petrified of bad ideas. Ideas that make us look stupid or waste time or money or create some sort of backlash.”
The only problem with that, though, Godin says, “is that you can’t have good ideas unless you’re willing to generate a lot of bad ones.”
Most entrepreneurs find success only after a series of bad ideas — ones that just didn’t pan out. In order to have good ideas, you have to be willing to take a chance, and let go of the misconception that everything you do has to be an instant success. Free yourself up from the unrealistic expectations, and don’t let the fear of failure control your future.
- Refine your idea
So what if people think your idea is terrible? That’s a common fear that plagues us all. But that’s a risk you’ll have to take. The fact is, they might think it’s terrible, and that’s ok. Chances are, it is terrible, at least in its initial, rough draft stages. The first thing that pops into your head is generally not the idea you’ll end up pursuing in the end.
In order to find success, you have to be flexible, and you have to be willing to pivot from your original concept. Don’t cling so tightly to your first draft that you lose focus on the bigger picture — creating a viable plan, one that actually works. Talking to someone will help you get your idea out there, allowing it to be scrutinized and picked apart. Putting your idea out there allows you to refine it into something that’s worth pursuing.
- Develop a plan
The difference between ideas that stagnate and ones that get executed comes down to one thing — taking action. According to Scott Belsky, author of Making Ideas Happen: Overcoming the Obstacles Between Vision and Reality, having an action plan is key to turning ideas into reality. In his book, Belsky outlines the system that he uses to get an idea rolling.
First, start by classifying your ideas as a project. This will allow you to push them into action. Next, once you’ve established your project, you can get to work breaking your plan up into their components — what Belsky calls action steps, backburner items and references.
- Don’t give up.
While being flexible is important for success, it’s also important that you don’t give up when the going gets tough. This doesn’t mean to plow full steam ahead with an idea that has no merit, but it does mean following through and ensuring that you don’t give up for the wrong reasons. The best ventures often come about only after relentless determination in spite of difficulty. Pushing through moments of doubt and roadblocks and coming out the other side is one of the greatest accomplishments you can have. Set your goals, and then reach them. You’ll be glad that you did.
Finally, and most importantly — act fast. The clock is ticking. Don’t leave those ideas to stagnate at the back of your mind. There are few things worse than a dream that never gets to see the light of day. The longer you wait, the less likely you’ll be to make it happen. Don’t worry about mistakes or think that everything has to be perfect before you act. You’ll be waiting forever otherwise.