Just in the past two days, you wouldn’t realize how many ideas came into my mind of ways I wanted to, or could, expand my business. Tons of product ideas, GOOD ideas, tasks added to my to-do list… this is all on top of my existing workload Being an entrepreneur is very challenging and can get overwhelming quickly. You must manage your existing projects well so you can increase retention and build a committed following, but then you must also have a strong focus on product creation and expansion (not to mention just maintaining the work you’ve produced so far).
So how do you manage the overwhelm you feel when you’re getting so many good ideas and you know you don’t have time to execute them all?
Below I’m going to offer you a few things I do that you are welcome to try…
Write it down.
Obvious? Maybe, but it really works! I have an ideas folder I keep close by which is full of good ideas (if I do say so myself). Entrepreneurs by nature are creative so expect those ideas to keep flooding in.
By writing all of your ideas down, you let the paper take the weight of the idea. You don’t have to stress about if you will remember, or how to execute this idea, or when because you know the idea is written down in a safe place and will be happy to see you when you return to it – whether in a few days or a few years. Write it ALL down even if it’s a tiny idea.
You wouldn’t believe how many ideas of mine seem to be bundled into a recent big idea I had. It is all relevant and writing down your ideas can serve you greatly in the future.
Create an Outline.
When I get an idea for a product or service, the next thing I do is create an outline for it. For example, one of my ideas is to create a DIY Guest Blogging Package where a business owner could have everything they need to set up a well-oiled machine of guest bloggers on their site to increase traffic dramatically and gain lots more subscribers. There are tons of benefits to this program and it’s a hot topic for 2012 and beyond.
Well, shoot, there are TONS of ways I could produce this product – enter overwhelm. Before I think about all the success I’ll have, ways to market, and the income it could generate, I stop. I know that the product is really all about the content I deliver so I create an outline of everything the product would need to be SUPER valuable for business owners who buy it. I am totally the type that wants to give away the farm to people who put their trust in me – I’ll give you everything I know and how I do it so you have the best shot at success.
The outline for this DIY Guest Blogging Package included things like promotion page content (what needs to be said on the ‘write for us’ page on your website), what the exact process is when someone wants to be a guest blogger (they need to send in a sample article with their bio and photo, I review to make sure they follow any guidelines I’ve given, etc.), in this product I need to create 5 emails templates that the customer can use (a rejection letter, approval letter, general inquiry response letter, etc)… the point being, I write down everything I can think of that would need to be included to make this product a success.
Honestly, it is at this point that I decide if I am going to pursue this idea aggressively, or when I get around to it, or never. I look at my material and evaluate if there is a gap in the marketplace, if this would be valuable to someone, if this would really work for people, etc. Getting the details of my idea on paper in this way reduces the overwhelm for sure!
Make a plan.
Obvious? Of course. But do you do it? Gotcha. If I have an idea that I just can’t stop thinking about and one that I really want to pursue… I have my outline and I know it’s a ‘must’ to create… then it’s time to make a plan to make it happen.
Now, this is where the overwhelm really starts to come flooding in because now you actually need to execute. The fun creation part is generally behind you and now you actually have to carve out time, while managing your other projects, and make sure that you don’t NOT do this product idea like so many others that have since collected dust.
The truth is that YOU have a gift. YOU have a message. It is a complete waste of your talents if you don’t do something with it.
So you make a plan by taking your outline and breaking it up into 5 parts, or whatever. You make a commitment to yourself to do one part each week for the next five weeks. Caution: Look at your list and decide what you think you could pull off, then trim that list down by 30% and that is actually what you’ll be able to pull off.
A primary reason people can’t follow through with their ideas is that they put way too much pressure on themselves upfront, they can’t deliver because they don’t plan for the unexpected, then they put it off once (“I’ll get to that next week”) and then you don’t come back to it, then you feel like a loser so you need time to recover, then before you know it, another 2-3 months roll by until you feel the pressure that you need to create a product and motivate yourself to get serious about this next new idea. (Ew, too much accountability there?) I’ve been here, that’s how I know this is true.
Make It Happen.
So you have your outline, you have your plan on how many weeks it’ll take to get it done, and hopefully, you’ve exercised caution to not put too much pressure on yourself and you’re ready to really make it happen this time. Now, you just need to make it happen.
There are a few ways that I “make it happen” which work really well for me. First, I tell someone I really look up to about the idea and plan. I know that if I tell someone I really respect that it will create accountability for me. I want to be known as someone who makes things happen and gives tons of value to others – I would not risk taking that away just because I found eighteen excuses for why I couldn’t follow through.
Next, I dive right in. I don’t waste time (because I know that if I delay anything for too long, the idea will be lost and the product won’t be completed). I make damn sure I get that first week of to-do’s done, no matter what. That gives me momentum and confidence to go into week two of my plan. No matter what, I get it done… no matter what!
All we need is a little momentum and confidence. A big part of the overwhelm again is putting too much pressure on ourselves to “make it perfect” or “add more to the plate.” Once you have made the outline, made the plan, you just DO. Sure, you can add little creative twists here and there… but you do not deviate from the plan!
Entrepreneurs are creative minds – we can easily think of 350 cool ways to execute something. Trust yourself and your original plan. You can always build more products as a spin-off of this one and try out one of your fancy ideas then. For now, stick to the plan and execute it. Every week you put this off is another week the world does not get your value, another week you are not building your business, and another week you’re not making the income you need to sustain the message. This is bigger than you – make it happen.
The best path to success as an entrepreneur is to keep creating. I don’t mean creating a dozen half-finished products. Create one product 100%, launch it, then immediately dive in and start creating your next product. Period – there is no other plan.
To manage this around your existing workload you just need a little discipline, a little accountability and you need to be organized. Don’t try to do too much at once. I’d much rather see you take 4 months to create a product than try to do it in 2 weeks, burn out, and never finish it. YOU put the pressure on yourself, so knock it off! 🙂