Keeping Busy as Hurricane Sandy Approaches

It’s Monday afternoon, October 29, 2012. Hurricane Sandy is expected to hit the east coast within a few hours. The effects of the wind and rain are already being felt up and down the coast, with power outages and flooding hitting one neighborhood after another.

If you are in Sandy’s path, you might be working from home today and tomorrow to ride out the storm as recommended by the state. That’s what I am doing in Maryland. If you still have power, and maybe even an Internet connection, here are a four ideas for keeping busy as we wait for the situation to return to normal later in the week:

  • Stay connected via web meetings. We hold our weekly staff meeting on Monday mornings. Last night, I emailed everyone to let them know that they can work from home today if they would like. We still held our staff meeting, this time using a web meeting service we subscribe to. We accomplished everything we normally would do. And now, the staff who is working from home, has all of the information they needed from our meeting to make it a productive week.
  • Catch up on your business reading. There are probably a lot of magazines and books that you’ve been meaning to read. Time away from physical meetings and interruptions at the office opens up a wonderful opportunity to increase your knowledge. Read, take notes and outline ideas to help you at work – keeping busy this way is easy.
  • Write. If you have a blog, write a post. If you are tossing around some planning ideas for 2013, crystallize them now. I know that I often get sidetracked with too many other activities and wish that I could spend more time writing articles that will help our clients. Take a few hours to create a checklist, article, tip or some other resource to share with your clients. They will appreciate it and you will feel good about creating it.
  • Play. Yes, play. This might be a rare chance to have your kids home due to school closures, no weekend activities and very little to do outside. Instead of feeling confined, keeping busy by telling stories about your experiences, talking about ambitions, and sharing your time and love is a beautiful way to spend your time.

The heaviest part of the storm will arrive very soon. Be sure that you’ve taken precautions to keep yourself and your family safe.

Managing Too Many Ideas

Got an idea for a new product or business? At least 100 others have the exact same idea as you. Success boils down to execution. And execution can be very hard when you have too many ideas.

To really make an impact, you need to manage your ideas so that the ones that stand the best chance of success will bubble up to the top. Here are some tips on managing your time if you have too many ideas:too many ideas

  1. Get a voice recorder. Your cell phone probably already has this feature. It allows you to take verbal notes on the fly so you can capture your many ideas wherever you are.
  2. Elaborate on the details. If you have an idea for a new product, get into the nitty gritty. Draw how it will work, how people will interact with it and other details. Include size, color and other specs. The details require you to really think through every aspect of what you would build. I can recall many times when I dropped an idea after seeing that the implementation details were so complex that it wasn’t worth pursuing.
  3. Ask who needs to be involved to make your idea become reality. Rarely can your idea be executed without the help of others. You may need someone to make your product, create the  look, invest capital, acquire customers. Find out who you need to talk to. Start by identifying their role. Then, get onto LinkedIn, Twitter or other platform to get in touch.
  4. Determine the market size. The biggest mistake small business owners make when building new products and offering services is to target a market that doesn’t exist. If there aren’t enough buyers for what you will sell, don’t waste your time. The best way to find out is to identify a handful of prospects and talk to them about your idea. If they get excited, dig deeper on the specific features they want to see and how they would expect it to work. There is nothing better to build a product than an actual customer guiding you on what they would spend money on.
  5. Decide if the idea fits with your values. Your initial reaction might be “sure it does!” The reality is that not all ideas you have will be in harmony with your comfort level. When pushed, which of these ideas are more in line with who you are and what you believe in.
  6. Prioritize your idea list. Too many ideas for features, known as feature creep, has caused me numerous delays in getting products out of the door. There’s always one more bell or whistle that you want to put in. Resist the urge to do it or you’ll never meet your release deadlines. The most important thing you can do is to say “here’s the list of things we identified to be the most important based on customer feedback and this is all that will go into the next version.” If your idea is based on current trends, ask yourself whether the trend will still be in place when you launch and what kind of adjustments you need to account for as trends change.
  7. Put lower value ideas on the back burner. You don’t have to abandon your ideas. Put some on the back burner for review in 6 to 12 months. Things might have changed by then and there may be more reason to execute an old idea.

Face it: not every idea you come up with will be fantastic. And if you try to pursue every single idea that pops in your head, you will never get any one of them done. As you logically trim your ideas down to the ones that make the most business sense, you increase your chances of executing on the right idea at the right time.