My Idea is Brilliant, Right?

I have so many great ideas that solve so many problems.  They arrive from everywhere.   Planes are the best/worst place for them – must be something about the oxygen.  Or could it be the lack of distraction that allows my brain to wander?  When I managed large diverse teams of people, my staff came to regret the long trips as I would return with pages of random thoughts.  Now my partner Dave has to manage this.  Good luck, Dave.

It’s a curse really. What do I do with all these ideas?  Work all of them?  Throw them all away?  Dump them on somebody else?  Are you out there, Dave?

By now I actually do have a system.  Some of you have been part of this.  You are my test customer set.  I use you all the time.  Thanks, you have been invaluable.   Your check is in the mail.

Here is my process . . .

Step 1

I create idea bubbles.  In my head I place all of these ideas.  They float there – available when I need or want to think about them.  I poke at them, whoosh them away, sometimes they pop and disappear, sometimes they sit there. Time is a beautiful agent for me.  Because after a while, some of them get stronger and move to the front of brain.  Then I have to act on them.  The Big Top job fair is one.  Heivly.com is another.  (A new one I can’t get rid of is this idea of offering some type of class or boot camp or something around Ruby on Rails and Web Analytics, both critical elements of our future success.   If you have any thoughts let me know.)

That is my first step.  Nothing fancy but it works for me.  I basically use time to winnow these thoughts down to actionable idea.  But what to do now?

Step 2

I socialize.  You see, I use all of you when we sit and grab a coffee or a lunch or we run into each other at some event. “I have been wondering whether we need some type of job fair for startup companies to more effectively find new employees,”‘ I asked a number of you back in the spring of 2011.  “Do you think there are enough people interested?” and  “How should we advertise this?” I further wondered.  I was over at Durham Tech a few weeks ago asking about their technology classes and structure (see current idea).

I find that too many entrepreneurs stop short of socializing their ideas.  Do you feel like someone will steal your idea?   It doesn’t happen – believe me.  Do you think you might waste someone’s time?  This takes all of 2 minutes at worst. Maybe they won’t get it.  Hmm.

You are missing out on your first market test if don’t test your idea and hypothesis.  And by socialize I mean 20-30 different people of different age, gender, occupational characteristics.  Let’s call this mongo socialization.

So, work your process and add mongo-socialization to your bag of tricks.

Speaker, investor, mentor, startup founder. One of 3 or 4 Co-Founders of MapQuest (sold to AOL for $1.2B). Managing Director of $25M Venture Fund in late 90's. CEO, COO or President of various companies ranging from $200k to $20M in size. One of two Managing Directors of The Startup Factory (35 investments across 7 cohorts), founder and MC of the Big Top Reverse Job Fair and national writer and speaker waxing poetic around startups and startup communities. Currently EIR @ Techstars with Brad Feld ~ Startup Communities, to help community leaders around the world grow their startup community.

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