Stuart R. Crawford (Calgary, AB - Business Development Manager of IT Matters)
What do you mean by Butterfly catching? Can you picture it in your mind, as the owners of your own small business consulting business, are you running around from idea to idea, just like a young child runs around catching butterflies in the garden? We all do it; it is very natural for entrepreneurs and owners of small business to have ideas flying at them just like butterflies in the garden.
What happens next after you catch the butterfly? Well, think about it from a child’s perspective, they swoop the net over the butterfly to capture it, they may examine it and observe the unique colours, or the texture of its wings and other features found on their recent successful capture. The next step is either they add it to their butterfly collection or release it back into nature.
Are you doing this with your business ideas? I remember reading once that the average entrepreneur has a new thought or idea every seventeen seconds. That is a lot of ideas in the course of the day. It is amazing that with this abundance of ideas floating around that many of us fail to do the first simple part of the process. We fail to capture the idea, it floats back out there for someone else to capture. Have you ever seen an idea that you had once used by someone else?
What normally happens in the course of our busy days, is we simply neglect to capture our ideas successfully. Other distractions occur like the phone ringing; interruptions around the office and the normal course of business just get in the way of your ability to capture your ideas successfully.
Here are some basic strategies to assist you in capturing your ideas successfully so you can recall them at a later time:
- Invest in an ideas book – I recently read an awesome book by Roger Hamilton, an author out of Australia called “Wink and Grow Rich” and in Roger’s book the first lesson that he discussed was the concept of “Think it, Ink It”. Successful entrepreneurs practice this every day. When an idea hits them, they immediately write it down. Getting the idea on paper is a wonderful way to recall it at a later day with relative ease. Electronic tools like Outlook Notes, Blackberry or some other way to capture ideas will work; however, in my experience hand written notes into a book has proven to be a successful way to capture this information.
- Record it – If you do not have access to an electronic tool or handwritten book to record your thoughts, another awesome way I have found to capture information is an audio recording. You can use a recorder of some sort that will allow you to listen to your idea at a later time, this is great if you have an idea while driving, just hit record button and talk away. Another tool that I have found to be effective is an online service called Jott, you can call into your personal number and record a message which will be emailed to you.
- Escape to nature – I schedule one day every month away to escape to nature, somewhere where cell phones do not work, no Internet to distract me and focus on generating ideas for my business. I have found that being out of the day to day rat race in the office allows for easy harvesting of your brilliant ideas. Plus the fresh air will do wonders for your well being. The business will survive for one day while you get away to brainstorm.
Once you capture your idea and now invest in the time to review all the ideas that you have come up with in the past week or so (I recommend scheduling time every week to review ideas and concepts), you need to make a decision on what to do with your ideas. This part is pretty simple. You can do it, delegate it, defer it, or just dump it. I call this the 4 D’s to decision making. It is important that all your ideas go into one of these four containers.
If you decide to delegate or do it, another critical component where many business owners struggle is with action and execution, ideas that are not written down is wishful thinking and ideas not executed on is hallucination. We all have met colleagues that are great ideas people, that is it though, great ideas with no execution. You need to take action and take action immediately, not tomorrow or next week, when you say that you will get it later, you almost never get to it. Execution is the critical component between those small businesses that thrive and those that struggle.
When you delegate an ideas to a staff member or partner, you still own the idea, you never transfer ownership. With delegation of part of the task or idea, you are simply having someone assist you with the execution part, you still own the idea and concept. It is your responsibility to ensure that execution and completion occur. Don’t be afraid to follow up on the wear things are at when you feel that it is necessary to do so.
One additional key lesson from Roger’s book is “Do it, Review it”, if you take action on your ideas and execute effectively, it is important to go back and review it. Was it a success? What areas can be improved? If it was a flop what failed? It is important to review everything that you do in your business and work towards constant growth and improvement. I also recommend that if you had a team involved that everyone involved be part of the review process, an important lesson from my military time is that during reviews all rank is stripped and the leader reviews their performance first before going onto anyone else, this process must be an open forum that allows team members to speak freely.
We all have wonderful insights and ideas, many of us in small business are so busy with our day to day business and personal life’s that we neglect to work on the areas of our business that the greatest growth can occur. Proper capturing of your ideas can be an enriching experience for you and your team. Take the time to capture those butterflies effectively.