Sifting for good/bad ideas

Fresh off a trip from Cabo, I went back to Austin, did laundry, packed the exact same clothes, and headed off to our AppSumo Getaway in Seattle:
http://www.appsumo.com/how-to-make-your-first-dollar-seattle-getaway/

Some of the people who came were already running businesses, some were not.

I noticed something while talking to the people who DID NOT have a business going….

There were lots of ideas floating around in their heads (and even written down), but no apparent framework to make sense of those ideas.  

I realized something I accidentally did back in the day, and still to this day, that has helped me immensely: I would write down tooonnsss of ideas, and rank them.

Read that last part?
The part about “ranking them”?

It’s immensely important.  So lemme take you through the simple process I use to find business ideas, product ideas, ways to make money…..

I first am fully aware of this:

“The best way to get a good idea, is to have a lot of ideas!”

I write down a ton of ideas.  Anything.  The point is to get the brain jogging:

  • Bad ideas.
  • Good ideas.
  • Funny ideas.
  • Stupid ideas.
  • Wacky ideas.
  • Ideas that solve problems.
  • Ideas for stuff I personally want.

Just by it’s nature, this list will contain some gold, and some crap.  Mostly crap. But who cares, it’s just a freakin list!!  (usually mine are written somewhere in a notebook).

Now here’s how to sift your list of ideas for gold (in a semi-scientific way):

You rank each idea on a scale from 1 to 5 in several areas:

  1. Easy-ness – How easy would it be to get this going?
  2. Fun – Is this fun for me?
  3. Profit – What’s the potential profit here?

Total up the numbers, and almost instantly….the piece of paper you wrote these down on will turn from a random list of ideas, to a piece of paper telling you which ideas you should move forward with.  

Here’s a ghetto example I made in 2 minutes:

Obviously some ideas will be easier for some than others based on skill/talent.

So in my particular case, this list has shown a book about Kopywriting will be my best bet.  A yogurt stand however, doesn’t seem very fun (although I love GOING to them and pretending my CakeBatter yogurt with 9 pounds of chocolate toppings is “healthy”)!

So this my friend, is a key difference between a regular-ole list of ideas….and a list of ideas which tells you which one to go with.

Now I’m a big pencil/paper kind of guy, but I thought I’d make a cool “Idea Calculator” for you to use.

Simply click on the Google Doc, and save it for yourself.  It’ll auto-calculate your ideas, and tell you when something is promising (usually anything over a “10″ is decent):

Here’s your Idea Calculator (save it for yourself in any format you choose to start entering your own):
https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/ccc?key=0AuaB65FccS9sdDVZVWU1ZFZYaXdaQVNsMWZPdF8zNmc#gid=0

The point of this is to get you to start ranking your ideas with a number…..so you can spend less time sifting through ideas, and spend more time trying the winners.

Cool huh!?
Neville – Enjoying the awesome Seattle summer weather (and surrounded by 25 nerds in a house)

Blog posted on: July 12, 2013

11 comments on “Sifting for good/bad ideas

  1. Ryan

    Dude. Close call there on the poop app…. Was almost the winner. Phew. Good thing the book came out ahead. :-)

    Reply
  2. Alex

    Shouldn’t the easy-hard scale be just the other way round? In your example an idea is more valuable the harder it is..

    Reply
      1. Frank

        An idea is worthless if you won’t ACT on it due to it being psychologically too difficult.

        With an easy idea, it’s easy to stay motivated long enough to finish.

        Reply
  3. Meghan

    What a great idea that can apply to other areas as well, thanks for sharing! I already saved a copy of the Idea Calculator.

    Reply
  4. Michele

    This is awesome and so important – to quantify these ambiguous ideas in our head. Thanks for the download!

    Reply
    1. Neville Post author

      No problem! I wasn’t going to make it at first….but decided it was easy enough to make, and useful enough to benefit people (already got tons of emails responding that people used this calculator for themselves and for clients).

      Reply

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