How many different ideas do you have filling up space in your brain, notebooks, word documents, and random scraps of paper?
If you are similar to me (and most entrepreneurs, freelancers, and business owners) you have more on the go than you can possibly contain in your brain.
I am pretty sure that I forget more ideas, or lose them in notebooks and scraps of paper, than I actually bring to life in my business. Which makes me sad.
I currently use Charlie Gilkey’s Free Weekly Project Planners to organize my days and weeks but I have never found a system that works to capture ideas and projects. Nothing has worked. I forget about things I jot down in notebooks. I accidentally erase whiteboards to capture some new idea. Lists of ideas and longer term plans end up in a pile of papers, discovered long after they could have been useful.
Linking ideas and money
So, today I decided to start testing a new approach by organizing my ideas based on what value in dollars they can bring my business, and how quickly they could generate this value.
Now, I am not saying that money should be the only determining factor in what ideas you work on. But, if you first reduce your list of ideas so that only the ideas that provide value to your community are left, then organizing them on how they will benefit your business strikes me as a solid idea.
My Idea Problem
This is my current idea and future project planning system. Within this pile of sketch books, notebooks, scraps of paper, and duotangs (I think that one is a Canadian word, they are like soft covered binders) reside all of the ideas and future projects that land inside my brain throughout the workday, weekend, and in the middle of the night.
The problem is, each of these idea receptacles then gets moved somewhere and all of the ideas becpme “out of sight, out of mind” and forgotten.
At some later date I will gather all of the different bits and pieces (as I have for this picture) and attempt to organize them into some sort of functional system.
It hasn’t worked yet.
My Idea Solution – The Idea-Money Matrix
What is going to make this attempt different? Will it work?
The answer to question #2 is: I don’t know if it will work, but I like experimenting on my own business, so it is worth a try.
What I think will make this attempt different is: I am going to organize all of my ideas and projects using three criteria:
- Will this idea help people with their money? If the answer to this one is “no” then the idea won’t even go beyond the pile on the floor. There is no point in moving an idea forward if it isn’t going to help you (and other business owners like you).
- Will this idea make my business money? If the answer to this is “no” then the idea will end up in the “Zero $” category. The idea is still helpful, and still useful for my business, just not as a direct money making engine at this time. If the answer to this is “yes” then the idea will end up in the “$ Making” category.
- How quickly can this idea become a reality? To keep things simple I am going to stick with “fast” and “slow” categories. “Fast” meaning that minimal effort is required to create and offer the idea. “Slow” meaning it will take more time an effort to bring the idea to reality.
What the solution looks like
Here is how the system breaks down:
- Top Left: Zero $ Fast – ideas like lead magnets that won’t make me money directly but I could create fast.
- Bottom Left: Zero $ Slow – ideas that won’t make me money directly and will take longer to create.
- Top Right: $ Making Fast – ideas that I can create or offer quickly (or that are already ready to go) that will generate revenue.
- Bottom Right: $ Making Slow – ideas that will take longer to create or offer and therefore take longer to generate revenue.
The plan is to go through my pile of ideas and projects using the three criteria above to place each idea and project that I keep into one of the four quadrants.
By the end of the setup I should have a corkboard with a bunch of coloured pieces of paper on it mapping out all of my ideas and how they relate to generating money in my business. The hope is that by organizing everything this way I can start to make some guided decisions that make sense for my business without having to go back and dig through all the paper.
The Idea-Money Matrix
This is what the end result is starting to look like. The different ideas are now mapped out on the corkboard in relation to how they effect the revenue in my business, which I think is going to help me to make decisions on which ideas to follow through with at different times, depending on what my business needs at that particular time (leads versus revenue as an example).
You can watch this short video I made running through the final result of my first crack at creating a Money-Idea Matrix. The video does a better job of wrapping up this post than I can do with words, so enjoy.