How Are You Filling Your Idea Pipeline?

I’ve just been reading a terrific new book called High-Profit Prospecting by my friend and colleague Mark Hunter. Mark is a consummate sales professional, and his book is about how to keep your sales pipeline full so that you never run out of valuable prospects.

I’m not a sales professional, but I am an idea professional. And, just like I think it’s vital for people in the sales business to keep their sales pipelines full, I think it’s equally vital for people in the idea business to keep their idea pipelines full.

By the way, as a leader, you are in the idea business.

In his book, Mark talks about the importance of not leaving prospecting to chance, not just waiting (and hoping) for prospects to fall into the pipeline. He says that a true sales professional should have weekly (preferably daily) dedicated prospecting time scheduled on the calendar. Because keeping the pipeline full is that important.

Likewise, leaders should schedule time weekly (preferably daily) to fill their idea pipeline. Because it’s that important.

So, how do you do this? Through four primary sources.

1. What you read.

There’s a reason why Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, and Elon Musk read voraciously. They understand the value of keeping their mental pipeline full of new ideas.

“But I’m too busy to read, Bill.”

Really? Busier than Bill Gates? Because he’s pretty busy. And pretty rich. And he reads 50 books a year. I don’t think these are unrelated. So, I’m sorry-what’s your excuse again?

Schedule time to read. Every day, if possible. (And it is possible.) I’m not talking about Grisham and Patterson. They’re fine for the beach. Read about ideas. Read about things you don’t already know.

2. What you listen to.

To those of you who have horrendous commutes, congratulations! You’ve got a great opportunity to fill your idea pipeline! Instead of listening to the news (depressing), or the generic pop music station (mindless), why not try out one of the literally hundreds of great podcasts available? My guess is that there are at least a few podcasts out there for your particular field. Or, try one of my favorites, the TED Radio Hour podcast.

3. What you watch.

Although this probably won’t help you with your commute, there’s plenty to watch online-and some of it doesn’t involve kittens. For example, in addition to listening to the TED Radio Hour podcast, you can watch actual TED Talks Or, if you want something more in-depth and academic, Stanford University (among others) puts many of their courses online, absolutely free.

4. Who you meet.

I’ve saved the best for last. There are actual people out there, freely roaming the earth, who have knowledge, experiences, and ideas that you don’t have. They can be found in your town, in your workplace, sitting next to you on the plane or train. But here’s the caveat: if you only hang out with the same people you always hang out with, you’ll never meet these others. And that’s to your detriment, as a leader, and as a human being.

So fill your pipeline! Feed your brain continuously with new ideas. It’s the highest profit prospecting you can do.

Developing a Business Idea – Business Planning

Greatness is not a function of circumstance. Greatness, it turns out, is largely a matter of conscious choice, and discipline. Jim Collins

Life is full of choices and the right decision taken at the right time and executed also at the perfect hour can definitely bring success. Any business plan has to undergo three stages before it is actually executed.

    o birth of a business idea
    o developing the goals and strategy for that idea
    o creating the right ambiance and the perfect atmosphere to execute the idea

First let us consider discussing the birth of the business idea. Picking the right idea is again a most imperative choice. Many people just go by the crowd and decide to do any business which is considered as the hottest at that particular point of time. But certain things have to be speculated and analyzed before taking the first step.

    o do you think you can start and run your own business successfully
    o what are all your positive and negative aspects when it comes to real life skills and talents
    o how much investment can you possibly set aside or lend for this business opportunity
    o have you analyzed the market value or demand for the kind of business you have in mind
    o who is your target audience and will people actually accept my product or service
    o are there any competitors in this business and if so how much can I be different and capable to meet with this competition

Some ground work about the business idea is necessary and there is nothing wrong in discussing it with the forerunners in this field. Try to meet up with similar companies to find out the pros and cons of the business.

Once you come up with a business idea say to do some online marketing business then carefully draft the business strategy. Setting goals, and drafting the business plan as to the number of employees, office space, lawyers, accountants, office furniture etc is what will follow next. Getting license for the business, legal proceedings, tax factors etc is also very imperative step to go with. A business plan is like a road map to your business and it sets the right discipline in which your business will progress.

Every business should work towards achieving its long term and short term goals. Starting an online business might be less stressful financially but keep in mind that all online businesses are not very successful. It depends on what kind of business you want to do online. The least you should is the tricks of the trade. So equip yourself with the updated and hands on knowledge about the business you wish to start. Note down the marketing strategy for your product or service. Marketing has become a deciding factor of a business these days. Media promotion, web site promotion and other marketing techniques should be optimized for better visibility of the business prospects. The more people see your company’s name flashing before them the more hits you might get and this is where you should strive to make every viewer a possible customer.

A professional business plan however should contain the following,

    o Purpose of the business
    o Funds needed
    o Specifications about the product or services that your business will be dealing
    o Management members with advisors both legal and professional
    o Organization structure
    o Division of power
    o Responsibilities
    o Vision, goals, key strategies and objectives
    o Marketing strategy
    o Promotional methods like resumes, brochures, articles and logos
    o Location and office layout

Thus a complete blue print of the business idea should first be created theoretically before actually moving forward with major decisions. This blue print will give you a picture of what to expect and thus enable you to focus on the lines of the business plan that you have made. Vision is already created and hence the steps towards making this great vision come true are not very far away.

Idea Businesses – Becoming a Consultant

Opinions wanted. Huge sums of money paid. Very little work required. If that was a job description, would you apply? Chances are, you answered yes.

Literally, your job is to discuss. You heard me right. Do you have an artistic talent? Become a media consultant. Besides your base contract, which is usually a heft amount, you’ll earn a rebate, usually 15% of their money that you spend on advertising. So if you get hired for a month’s project and charge $2000, and you end up spending $50,000 on television and radio advertisements, your rebate alone is $7500.

There are two keys to setting up a consulting business – credibility and knowledge. The credibility is more important of the two. If you have a friend with their own business, get them to hire you on for a modest amount, and use it as a learning opportunity – and a reference. This gives you a chance to “break in” to the field, and show a track record of performance worthy of being hired.

When I started consulting about 4 years ago, I cut my teeth in political consulting. I had volunteered on a few political campaigns (credibility), and had legitimately acquired the contact information for several vendors. With a stack of business cards and a little bit of know-how, I have literally been able to charge thousands of dollars to people for short term work – but valuable work nonetheless!

Once you’ve started, make sure everyone you know is aware of your services. People like to have “I know a guy” conversations. Make sure that you’re the guy whose name is going to be dropped, and watch the referrals roll in!

Transformation of Business

The following points help to transform a business into innovative and creative culture.

Procurement and Implementation of Idea:

To prosper the culture of any business, it is necessary to nurture the ideas instead of discarding them. An antagonistic culture does not nurture ideas and thus obstructs to keep up with the rapid changing society. If an employee hits up on a great idea then the superiors tend to avoid sharing their experiences and thoughts in fear of humiliation and rejection.

Adopt a rule that permits every employee to suggest an idea. Allow them to make only positive comments, which are expressional ideas. This significantly cultivates great ideas and implements at least some form of the ideas. Business firms need to welcome and encourage new ideas and suggestions. With proper attention, ideas often provide solutions to problems, perfect incubator for the next inventive product or service or even the next marketing promotion.

Besides, make use of generated ideas. It is not possible to create future ideas just by encouraging ideas and sitting ideally without taking any action. Never discard or reject to implement business ideas without giving adequate justification. It goes in the disinterest of the business firm and there is loss in creativity and future goodwill of employees.

Empowerment:

The empowerment of employees helps to increase initiative, innovation, involvement, speed and enthusiasm of the individuals, which stands in support of a firm’s business mission.

The quality job of leadership influences to define and encourage empowerment. However, in a multi level organization, the leadership desists to empower the subordinate. The superiors believe that ideas and initiatives from subordinates can weaken their authority and eventually their position in the business firm.

In true perspective, this is a struggle. However, by ongoing clear communication and dedication from the superiors, it is possible to overcome this struggle. It is essential for the central management to understand and realize that the subordinate empowerment is for collective as well as for personal gains. If any individual fails to understand this, it is sensible to remove that individual to avoid conflict.

Communication:

Communication is extremely essential by the point of creative place of work in a mature culture. It is the key element to implement a cultural renaissance. Leaders have to communicate in such a way that it excites and energizes their crew and at the same time helps their crew to overcome the hesitancy in adopting those proposals.

Believe in Each Member of Organization:

It is the natural tendency of people to rise on the occasion, if they believe they are reliable. Generally, many people are looking for personnel, who believe in them and hold responsibility for them.

Moreover, when they are sure of these persons, they tend to produce good results. Therefore, during business transformation, it is important to have someone in whom each member of the organization believes and who is ready to vouch for them to succeed.

Harvest Emotional Energy: Values give true credit to people’s lives. The performance of any business firm is directly proportional to its capability to tap its human potential. Most people take work as the best opportunity to express their innermost levels of creativity in search of fulfillment.

So, set clear human values and allow the corporate culture to harvest the emotional drives and creative potential of the crew members.