Creating a product or service from scratch, starting from just an idea, is no easy task. There is an awful lot to think about. Where do you start? Who are you trying to help? What skills do you have that you can leverage? Do you have the time?
It can be daunting, especially if the idea is particularly difficult to implement. And sometimes we get excited and start without really being ready to do the real work necessary to bring our ideas to life.
But here are some things that you can think about to help you think of the things that you might find helpful before starting your project.
Can you imagine the outcome?
I like to start with the outcome first because you're excited about your new idea, and the momentum you have right now can help make sure you come up with a big outcome for yourself. It's that big goal you're trying to reach.
So do just that; imagine what it would be like when you're done with your idea and you are successful. People are using the product. They enjoy it; they're finding good value in it, and you've done good work.
Think about how that feels, and think about what you had to do to reach that goal.
Can you measure your success?
I've discussed this more deeply in a separate guide about measuring your success, but being able to measure what success means to you is important. Would you be happy with $100? Do you need $10,000? $1 million? No money? Is your goal 1,000 followers? Or something else?
Whatever it is you are trying to reach, figure out how are you will measure your success -- and how you will know when you've reached it.
Do you have the time to work on it?
Time is that one resource that we all have the same amount of, technically anyway. It's really in how you can divvy up that time that matters.
Try to think how much time it will take for you to produce your product or service based on your idea. Then ask yourself if you have that much time in your life right now. If not, maybe you need to look at things in your life to see if you can fit them in.
Can you adjust your idea to fit better? Honestly, I wouldn't say I like trying to make the idea smaller just because I don't have the time... but don't think of it that way. Try to think of things that maybe don't directly support the idea. You don't need to implement them at the start.
Do you need buy-in from your family?
If you have a family, then work-life balance is probably important to you. There's a good chance that you need some level of family buy-in to make this project work.
It's probably a wise decision to get them involved as early as you can because you don't want weird family dynamics getting in the way when you're deep in your work.
There's going to be days, weeks, maybe even months where you're hard at work and spending less time with them than they want from you.
And you can probably guess that's going to cause some friction -- you need to be ready for it.
But if you get them involved early, and keep them aware of your progress, then you can avoid some of the drama.
Don't forget it's not their fault. This project is your project; it's your idea. It could be very successful and really help your whole family in the long run, but you are not there yet. You don't have anything that you can show them as proof yet.
So you will need to make sure they understand that you're trying your best to get the idea completed, but also that you haven't forgotten about them. That is the difficult part of work-life balance.
Do you have enough money?
The amount of money you need will totally depend on your idea, of course, but almost all projects need some amount of money. Money is also used to get help for your project -- to speed the development or use outside services to add interesting capabilities.
There are bound to be fees you will need to pay as well. Things like web hosting, graphics, sound & video, etc. Or things like computers and equipment necessary to produce your work.
Almost everything has a price -- as it should -- remember that essentially you're trading money for time. When you pay for something, it's because you don't have the time to create it yourself right now.
Or you understand someone else can create it better -- and you want to use it.
Do you need licenses or certifications?
Some types of work require licensing or certification to get started—things like construction, for example. You can't just go into someone's home and start doing some construction project without understanding the building codes involved. And often, you'll need certification to prove you know the codes.
The same is true for many industries. Does your idea fall into one of them? If it does, get started with the certification process as quickly as you can — sometimes they take time to complete.
While you're waiting, you can probably be getting something else done.
If you're launching an online business, there's a good chance there isn't a certification required... and if there is, you'll probably know ahead of time. But don't forget to get it started.
Once your head down in the work, it's easy to forget until you're getting close to launch -- then you might run into delays.
Anything else you didn't think of?
Well, this is a strange question. Of course, you can't think of things you didn't think of yet... how does that work?
Here's what I mean.
Be ready. There will be things that crop up while you're in the throws of doing your work. Things you will need to take time to think about.
Nobody could have seen a pandemic coming, but here it is. It's decimating businesses worldwide, causing all sorts of issues for a variety of industries. It's certainly interesting times we live in.
But this is an example of something you probably didn't think of when working on your idea. But if you're working with an understanding, there will be things that require your attention from time to time; you'll be ready.
Now do the work.
Alright. If you pass all this, you're technically ready to begin. Now you need to wrestle with all the emotions involved to produce the outcome you imagined at the beginning of this guide.
The easy part, right?
Of course, I'm kidding – this is where you actually start working harder. This is where you take everything else you did in the setup stage and start putting it into action to create your idea.
The whole point of doing everything ahead of time like this is to be ready to do the work. To get everything else out of your way so you can efficiently do the work you need to serve the people you seek to help.
Tell a friend when you're ready to begin. Tell your spouse too. Make a hard promise and then dive in -- and make good on that promise. You'll work harder, produce a better outcome, and strengthen relationships at the same time.