Are you full of great ideas? This article and video will show you how to bring your brilliant idea to life, through five actionable steps that will test, validate, and ensure sales in your creative business.
One of the gifts that we creatives are blessed with is an abundance of ideas. These sparks of brilliance don’t just come to us when we’re in the shower like most people. They pop into our heads all day, every day. #sendhelp
The good in this is that we will never run out of great ideas. The bad is that we can’t possibly pursue them all, so we have to be really choosy and smart about the ones that we want to go after.
Here are five steps to follow that will give us clarity on which ideas to pursue, and how to confirm that they will be successful— before we put our time and energy into creating them.
Step 1: Give it the 24-hour test
Where are my list makers at? We need to take these great ideas and get them down on paper. This list has the potential to be lengthy, and that’s okay. We’re not going after all of them, we just want to see what our options are.
New idea? Add it to the list. Write it down. Sit on it. Wait at least 24 hours before you go back and ask yourself if it’s really as good of an idea as you had thought.
Sometimes the circumstances we’re in at the time of the idea can warp it— like if you had just consumed too much coffee or champagne. If you’re like me and find yourself listening to a lot of show tunes, this can be a surefire way to make you believe that every idea is brilliant and worth pursuing.
Step 2: Define what the successful outcome will be as a result of pursuing this idea
You’ve got your idea. You gave it the 24-hour test and it passed. Now you need to determine what the final outcome should be in order for you to deem completion of this idea, “successful.”
Get your pen back out again. Write down: This idea will be successful when____________.
Define what you will need to happen in order for you to know that this idea was one worth pursuing. Here are some ideas. My idea will be successful it:
- someone buys my product
- when I help someone make a change
- when I receive a donation to fund a cause I believe in
- when I get someone to sign up to be part of my community
If you don’t know what that idea is leading to, you’re never going to get there.
Step 3: Research
Share your idea with other people, but not just any people.
When we have a great idea, we tend to tell all of the wrong people: our parents, our partner, our friends who are really nice and supportive. What do all of these people have in common? None of them are going to buy our products. They’re not our audience. They’re not the people we should be talking to.
Who is this for? Who are your people? Who is going to buy the product? Who are you going to be helping?
Find those people. Start talking to them, start interacting with them. Listen in on their conversations, find out where they are struggling.
This step will help you refine that vision and give you a clearer picture of what you need to address when you go to create it.
Where to find these people? Depending on what the topic is, you guys are going to know the answer to this. Where do your people hang out?
If you’re starting from scratch, and you are about to serve an audience that you know nothing about, here are some great places to look:
Online Forums (Google to find them)
Hop in on those conversations. This isn’t where you tell people about your ideas. It’s where you observe, research, listen and ask questions.
Step 4: Ask
At this point, your idea may have morphed into something completely different, and that’s okay— it’s already stronger than it was when you started. Now you’re going to make it the best it can be. Truly irresistible.
Create a survey of questions to better refine your vision and to get clear answers about the direction you should take. Surveys are so easy to create, and can actually be a lot of fun.
My favorites sites for creating free and good looking surveys are Typeform and Survey Monkey. Using the research you collected in Step 3, come up with a series of questions that will help you make decisions about the direction your product or service will take.
Here are three types of questions I suggest that you include:
- Start by asking easy, multiple choice questions to ease your survey-taker in without overwhelming them.
- Include an open-ended question so they can voice their opinion.
- Include an optional space at the bottom for their name and email, so that they can be notified when you make your idea available.
Start a spreadsheet with a list of names of people you’ve connected with in Step 3, along with anyone in your professional circles who you think would be qualified to weigh in (not your mom, dad, or really nice friends). Send it out to all of them.
Ideally, this list should contain the names of 30-50 contacts. If your list is looking a little bare, you can share your survey on your social media channels, but definitely be cognizant of who might jump in and take it.
Step 5: Validate
It’s time to take this idea out for a test drive. Some of you are going to think I’m crazy for what I’m about to say.
Go back to Step 2. What was your successful outcome? Was it getting someone to buy your product? Or getting someone to sign up for something? Or to make a donation?
Even though you don’t have your idea built yet, ask for people to pay for it anyway.
Get someone to purchase the product that you will deliver on. Get someone to sign up for that course that you will create. Get someone to donate to that cause.
You might feel funny about this, but understand that you just poured a lot of energy and thought into researching and connecting with people that you genuinely want to serve. The minute you accept payment, you will feel compelled to deliver at a higher level of excellence— and it’ll make you work more quickly to get it done too!
The logistics of accepting payment before you build your product or service
If you already have your own site, all you need is a single sales page with information about your product/service, who it’s for, and how it will benefit them. Don’t forget to include your payment button.
I use Leadpages (paid service) to set up my sales pages (in addition to using them for email list building) and find the drag-and-drop method super easy to use. No coding needed.
If you don’t have a website, the quickest and easiest way is to create Kickstarter page. Use their built-in functionality, plus you’ll have the added benefit of people coming to Kickstarter specifically to support new ideas, which will expand your reach.
Do not wait to build a website if you don’t have one. You can also sign up for a free trial on a drag and drop site like Weebly, Squarespace or Wix, get a payment processor set up, and build a landing page with all of the information they need to know.
The key here is to keep these pages simple, succinct, and up and running as soon as possible.
Go forward with confidence
Once you’ve gotten someone to purchase your product or service, you’ve confirmed that it has value and you’ll be able to move forward with conviction.
By this point, not only will you have tons of great feedback on what to do, or not do. You’ll have a network of people who are going to be willing to either buy this product or help you promote it.
These steps will have validated that your idea is worth pursuing and you can move forward knowing that you already have customers and you won’t be left wondering if your idea is any good.
Not to mention, you will not have spent all of this time on something that nobody wants and nobody needs.
Your new approach to bringing your brilliant ideas to life
Next time you have a great idea (it’s likely that one popped into your head while reading this article), run it through these five steps before you jump in and take action on it. Obviously, we can’t bring every idea to life but with research and validation, we’ll be able to ensure that the right ones will come to be.
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