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.