Have you always wanted to make your own idea happen – a business, product or project – but life has just got in the way? Here’s some expert advice to help you find an idea you love, start building it and steadily create something amazing.
- Start by noticing what you love. Having a job will allow you to explore what you want to do without the financial pressure to decide right now. Take your time to enjoy this. In the evenings and weekends focus on doing the things you love and just notice when you really lose yourself in these activities. What do you find interesting on TV and in books? What do you find yourself drawn to spend your spare time doing? These are all clues about where your idea might be.
- Get into the habit of making things. Mark Zuckerberg had been coding as an amateur long before he ever started earning money from it. He found Facebook because he was making things – including a ‘hot or not?’ site called Facemash. Get into the habit of creating original things – poems, posts, photos, cakes, videos – whatever you enjoy. This will help you stumble across your idea.
- Bring new stimulus into your life. Do you go the same way to work every day? Do you read the same magazines and watch the same shows on TV? To have fresh ideas, you need fresh stimulus in your life. Get systematic about this – do something you’ve never done every single day until your idea appears.
- Create a special idea bank account. Having a salary can feel like a justification for spending. Perhaps as a way of justifying the hard work of having a job, we spend money on things we don’t really need. Now you are starting to make your ideas happen, it’s wise to resist this so you can divert investment into your idea when you need it. Put this into your idea account.
You may enjoy this video with Martin…
- Make a ‘Version Zero’. Once you have found an idea you are excited about, find the cheapest possible way of bringing it to life. Get resourceful. If it’s an event, do it in your back garden. If it’s a product, make a video explaining it. Test your Version Zero on friends and colleagues. Learn from them. Now you’re in a feedback loop. Make it, share it, improve it.
- Be open at work about what you’re doing. An enlightened employer will view your making things happen elsewhere in your life as a benefit to them – since you will be building your skills and knowledge. Sharing your idea with work also opens up a new network of support to you. You’ll be surprised how encouraging people can be, and also how useful colleagues can be as an impromptu focus group. Your employer may also be more open to restructuring your work arrangements if they have been able to follow what you’re doing for a while.
- Work out your ‘why’. Every idea needs a ‘why’ – its purpose in the world, beyond making money. A jeweller’s why might be ‘creating family treasure’, a bookshop’s can be ‘connecting people with their imaginations’. Once people know your ‘why’, they’ll have something to tell their friends about. This is how you build a brand and create social energy around your idea.
- Commit to a journey more than an idea. Your first idea may or may not be the new Facebook – but you will certainly be transformed by the experience of developing it. Try to focus as much on the experience you are getting as your idea. This is the big reason to make your ideas happen – the experience it gives you. This will strengthen your CV, whatever happens.
- Stay in your job as long as you can. Every idea takes time to develop into a working business. Before you give up your main source of income, make sure you have spent enough time on your idea to strongly believe it can make enough money to support you. This will probably be years rather than months.
- Spend 5 minutes on it today. Then you’ve started! Do it now!