Grab a pen and paper and go to work

Sometimes you just have to grab a pen and paper and go to work. I think we’ve become so accustomed to using tools that we have forgotten the value and efficiency of a simple pen and paper.

Simple is always better – that’s a fact.

The best approach to building an idea starts with sitting down with a trusty pen and paper or at a Think Table (Like that plug didn’t ya) and sketching out your thoughts and ideas.

A blank canvas or lots of white space provides this place to think different and generate lots of ideas quickly without any restraints. You can also explore other options and variations without any real risks – you can just throw it all out their and start to visualize something amazing.

While complex technology programs are great for putting the finishing touches on something, they’re not the quickest way to start the ideation process.

Here’s the question: Are you making things to difficult by pulling up another program when you could just be sitting down and starting to explore?

There is a simpler way. Try it. Use it. Go.

 

STOP WAITING FOR A RAISE: 10 TIPS TO GET YOU STARTED ON YOUR OWN

Sitting at home on the couch complaining about your worthless job? Is it time to step out on your own? I took the time to put together 10 tips to get you started.

1. Create a business model canvas: Research, design, and build one if you want your idea to work. Having a business model is one of the fundamental building blocks of any start-up and necessary to protect your idea, invention and proprietary information.

2. Know Your Market like the back of your hand: Who does your product appeal to and are they willing to buy? Do you appeal to several different customer segments in the market? Are you solving any major problems?

3. You need an idea – What is the idea?:  Have a well designed plan that is executable. It is okay to think big (I prefer you think big), but how are you going to get there, one step at a time?

4. Research and list all Competitors and competitive advantages (Be honest with yourself too): Taking the time to do a competitive assessment can take time, however the time spent here will be well worth it – this is vital to your success. Also, while looking at your competitors define where you sit and how you are going to be different.

5. Financing and budgeting is critical: You need to know what you personally have to spend (Without hurting you and your family), how much you need, where are you going to locate the capital, and how is your idea going to scale – this means revenue streams and a smart business model.

6. Have an exit strategy in mind: Are you planning to sell your company and move onto the next thing? Are you going to pass it on to your kids? Or are you going to try and position your company for an IPO? Think about it.

7. Pick a course and run with it:  Picking a course is always better than swimming around in a circle like an idiot.

8. Protect Yourself before you wreck yourself: How are you going to protect your idea, invention and your proprietary information. Can your idea or product benefit from a patent? If you have the right projection, it can give you an edge in the marketplace.

9. Process makes perfection:  A company without the systems in place to fulfill what it’s selling or producing is preparing itself for a fall – believe me I’ve been there.

10. How is your company structured?:  Think about whether you want to be a shared corporation or a limited liability company. Also, think about where your company is going to operate and where you want to incorporate. What are your future plans for the company?  How do you intend to raise capital?  What is the exit strategy?

Now have fun and get after it. What are you waiting for….a raise? You could be waiting forever.

 

BUSINESS EXERCISE: THE SILLY COW

Are you in need of getting your team’s juices flowing about a new idea, business model, or startup? If you are, you should try out an ideation session with a silly, fun warm-up such as the Silly Cow exercise from the book Business Model Generation. It’s a great exercise to get you thinking beyond the typical constraints of old, outdated ideas that honestly..suck.

Here’s how it works:

Instruct participants to sketch out three different business models using a cow. Ask them to first define some characteristics of a cow (produces milk, eats all day, makes a mooing sound, etc.). Tell them to use those characteristics to come up with an innovative business model based on a cow. Give them three minutes.

Keep in mind that this exercise can backfire, as it is indeed quite silly. But it has been tested with senior executives, accountants, risk managers, and entrepreneurs, and usually is a great success. The goal is to take people out of their day-to-day business routines and show them how readily they can generate ideas by disconnecting from orthodoxies and letting their creative juices flow.

I have found the silly cow exercise to be a huge hit and it’s always a good time too. If I were to guess why it works so great, I would say that it challenges you to look at things in a different light. The other cool thing, it even works with serious business people like accountants and attorneys!

Try it out with your teams and let me know how it works.