Mornin’ friends!

A lot of people seem to have trouble succeeding life just because of one peculiar trait: doing things out of sequence!

That may seem weird, but I see it in business all the time. Especially with newly starting ambitious entrepreneurs who get a little all over the place… but no-one’s really immune to it.

It’s happened to me too: as an idea man and a creator by nature, I sometimes get lost in the idea phase, generating so many great ideas and then developing them… that I either never get to execution or I get bored with it.

Over time I’ve learned ways to deal with that, fortunately, but when helping other entrepreneurs this comes up ALL the time.

So if you’re a budding entrepreneur, or want to become one, now’s a time to pay attention and avoid some future snags.

Here’s a process I’ve devised to help fresh entrepreneurs – and anybody really – to avoid doing things out of sequence.

Ready? Let’s go!

1. Idea Generation

Brainstorming + sketching
Creative Commons License photo credit: juhansonin

If you’re the kind of guy who walks around with a notepad or a voice recorder to get down all the ideas you generate throughout the day… then this part of the one to watch out for.

Brainstorming is great, but if you’re not careful you can lose yourself in there.

But what’s really important is that you do this FIRST, before you go into planning and doing and sinking your time into something you may not know if it has a snowball’s chance to begin with.

I see this all the time; people get one idea and rush to put it out there.

And don’t get me wrong, you SHOULD pounce on a great idea when you get one.

However, how do you know if it’s the BEST idea if you don’t generate a few more and then compare them?

So let your brainstorming phase run its due course, and when you finally feel it’s starting to dry up, move up to the next step…

2. Documentation

the other side of the photo
Creative Commons License photo credit: bschmove

Next, now that you’ve got your ideas jotted down, it’s time to structure them properly.

Take a good, close look at them all, then start to categorise them according to whatever criteria is important to you.

It could be time to implement, time to revenue, degree of fun… anything that you actually use in your mind to understand what goes on in your market.

So now you’ll end up with not just a pile of post-its and text files and whiteboard scribblings…

…but a documentation of what’s going on in your mind (or your team’s collective mind) right now, structured so you can start making sense of it.

A word of warning though: don’t get stuck in this phase, getting all academic and trying to fit your free-form thoughts into some preconceived boxes.

It’s just an exercise to make more sense out of your notes, to start finding the real meaning behind it all.

And when you’re done with that, it’s time to move on to…

3. Selection

They've got Lemur on the menu
Creative Commons License photo credit: lovely lemur

Now that you’ve got your notes down, and starting to see the forest for the trees, it’s time to…

“Define and Divine!”

Meaning, take a hard look at what you’ve documented, pick the ideas that hold the most promise on paper.

Put those on ANOTHER piece of paper, and edit and re-edit as you  inevitably come up with some changes doing so.

That’s the DEFINE.

Then take a step back and REALLY look at them on that shiny new paper.

Look at each idea, now developed more fully than ever, and grade each of them with TWO markings:

1. How feasible the idea looks to you know, based on what you KNOW, on a scale of 1 to 10.

2. How feasible the idea FEELS to you, based on pure intuition.

Then tally up the numbers, and see what are the top two entries.

That’s the DIVINE. (as in… divining rod etc… eh, never mind 🙂 )

…Then, what you do is simply pick one of the two and, most importantly:

Agree to do it.

You’ve gone through all this trouble, you now know that what you’ve got in front of you is both valuable and feasible… well worth your time.

So AGREE to the idea. Let it take hold of you, and agree to step onto a journey to see it from start to finish.

And now, FINALLY, you’re ready for…

4. Planning

When work is play...
Creative Commons License photo credit: Christmas w/a K

After creating a bona fide commitment in the previous step, now you’re well and truly ready for planning.

After you have a commitment in place that you cannot withdraw if you wanted to… planning flows of its own accord.

And not only planning, all kinds of support flows to you and you feel like everything is clicking…

After a while, you may even feel like you’re experiencing Good Luck!

See, it PAYS to do things in sequence!

Don’t make the mistake of discounting that feeling, by the way.

When you get to that free-flowing state and space, it’s time to press on and completely take your foot off the brakes.

However, even in this stage there’s something crucially important to keep in mind before you lose yourself in execution (and you SHOULD lose yourself there, that’s a GOOD thing by the way – your ego stays out of the way).

That is: Dispel your doubts by getting into planning early and doing it properly.

Don’t try to shortcut planning, you’ll only end up cutting yourself short.

You can do parts of planning even earlier in the process IF you can’t seem to get anywhere.

Just lay it out further and further until you can see what you needed to see about it.

That’s all. Now you’re ready for all-out…

5. Execution

Creative Commons License photo credit: Marcin Wichary

That’s right!

It took all those four steps before you actually jump into the execution phase.

Execution requires an article all of its own so I won’t get into it much here.

I’ll just say if you do the four preceding stages properly… you won’t HAVE to know much about execution!

Because you’ve gone through all the right stages and emotions, really triangulated and hunted down what it is that you’re doing.

That’s how you become the kind of person people look at and say:

“S/He knows what they’re doing. Let’s get close to him and help them out.

Who knows, maybe something rubs off on us while we do it, too…”

That’s not a bad place to be, is it? 😉

So make it a point to do everything in sequence, I promise you’ll not only get better results, but you’ll also enjoy the ride a WHOLE lot more!
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