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January 13, 2015

How to Turn a Great Idea Into Reality

Caroline Smith


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I am full of good ideas… honestly, I am! I’m always coming up with grand schemes and plans for new businesses, inventions and projects.

There was the time I wanted to start a business writing memoirs, as other people's lives fascinate me. And then the parking-aid invention – essentially a set of wheels that drop down from the bottom of your car to help you parallel park, so you don’t have to do the maneuver yourself. And projects… well, I have a new one every week.

Unfortunately, though, my grand ideas rarely ever turn into reality. My enthusiasm always seems to fail when I come up against an obstacle, and then, after the novelty of the idea has faded, so too does my determination to make it happen. That’s not to say that I never achieve anything. I’ve worked hard to train for half-marathons and have beaten my personal bests, and I've been disciplined when going vegetarian for six months or when saving towards the trip of a lifetime. But when it comes to breathing life into an original idea… I struggle.

Donald Trump and Alan Sugar I am not. According to our article on entrepreneurial skills, the key qualities you need to develop a business, or take an idea forward more generally, are traits such as creativity, the ability to keep going in the face of hardship, and the social skills needed to build great teams.

Some experts think of entrepreneurs as people who are willing to take risks that other people are not. Others define them as people who start and build successful businesses. But regardless of how you define an "entrepreneur," one thing is certain: becoming one isn't easy.

A couple of weeks ago, we asked you budding entrepreneurs on Twitter and Facebook, "How can you turn a great idea into reality? #mindtoolstips." We received some great responses, so thanks very much to everyone who contributed!

Some of you pointed out the importance of planning (Zain-Ul Abideen) and writing down your ideas and goals (@THEMARIEF "plan it, write it down and then just do it!"; @edbug29 "plan and persevere"; @TheBIguyCanDoIT "write down the idea through the eyes of optimist, pessimist, advisor, accountant, investor. Find an idea that will win for all.") Writing your goals down is a good idea as it helps you clarify what you want, motivates you to take action, and allows you to see and monitor your progress.

Others talked about being determined to see your idea through. It starts with having the courage to take action (Pa Abili Codomoi) and learning how to improve your ideas as you go along (Buried Barrerajz; Makanju Ola.) @Martin1961Smith suggested, "Hard work and sheer bloody-mindedness." He also talked about asking for help when you need it, and not being "afraid to enlist smart collaborators," which is great advice.

Another piece of good advice comes from Mind Tools’ very own commissioning editor, Thomas Hallett, who recommends, "concentrating on one idea at a time – don't try to do too much." I also thought @Risk_Resilience’s suggestion was spot on: "Don’t do it to make money, do it because you believe in the idea."  And Les Moc stresses the importance of marketing your idea, which, of course, is key when you are trying to sell a new product or promote your business.

Thanks again for all of your contributions – we really appreciate it! And if you have any other comments about how you’ve managed to turn a great idea into reality, we’d love to hear from you below. Maybe I'll learn a thing or two...


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4 comments on “How to Turn a Great Idea Into Reality”

  1. My suggestion is to take one action, however small, each and every day towards making your idea a reality. Before you know it, you'll be there.

  2. God!! Don't I relate to you... Your article sort of pinned my perennial problem- procrastination in turning ideas into reality.. You know what..Having an idea -a workable one that too- is the best feel good factor there is. Sorts of elevates you to realms of bliss. (It is another matter when you see the same idea fructified by someone more enterprising at a later date!!!) Putting Ideas to work IMMEDIATELY-, time is the essence here is what needs to be done to avoid the horrible hangover.

    1. Yes, anuradha rao - the worst feeling is seeing someone succeed with an idea that you had! That has happened to me! It is difficult, though, to put the leg work into a new idea when you have a full-time job and commitments. But that doesn't stop true entrepreneurs. They have the passion and nous to see their ideas through. I have endless admiration for people who do.

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