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I can't believe I was about to do this ...

I can't believe I was about to do this ...

March 20, 2009

It's been a few days, and I still can't believe I was about to do this ...

Do you ever get a great idea that you know will work? It's so good, it can't fail!

You dare say it's brilliant. In fact, it's so good you and your team should drop everything else you're doing and jump on it.

I was about to do just that and it would have cost me dearly.

You guessed it! I had one of those great ideas that couldn't miss - and I was about miss big, really big! (The idea itself isn't relevant but the lessons learned certainly are.)

Fortunately, I talked through the idea with someone I trust and all of sudden the idea no longer made sense. That one conversation saved me an enormous amount of time, money and I now realize a whole lot of aggravation. And here's one of the biggest costs that you rarely see factored into a project ' the opportunity cost.

Anyone who has been reading my e-letter for any time already know I'm a big fan of knowing when to say, 'No' to an opportunity. So how many other opportunities would I have turned down as a result of dedicating my resources to my 'great idea?' I was fortunate this time.

3 questions you must ask when you get your next "great" idea

We concluded that the idea didn't make sense to pursue simply by asking these 3 critical questions:

1. What's your goal? What are you trying to achieve? What do you want to have happen if you go forward with the idea?

2. How does the idea goal fit with your overall strategy? This is where most ideas fall apart and this where we found the holes in my idea. It was a great idea (still is!) but it didn't fit in at all with the goals we had established because it was going to a completely different market.

3. What changes should you make? Should you drop the idea altogether? Or, should you modify the idea so it does fit with your established goals? Or, should you change your overall strategy? In our case, we decided to drop the idea altogether. But there are times when you can modify an idea and make it work ' sometimes it turns out even better than what you had originally planned!

The last question is probably the most difficult: 'should you change your overall strategy?' This is one that shouldn't be taken lightly because it means changing how your entire business operates. For instance, as more businesses shift their advertising to online, newspapers such as the Christian Science Monitor, the Cincinnati Post, Kentucky Post and the Seattle Post-Intelligencer are changing their overall strategy and shutting down their print editions and just publishing their newspapers online. That's a huge change!

Hopefully, you won't have to make those changes too often. But the next time you get a great idea stop and ask yourself these 3 questions before you start patting yourself on the back.

I'm glad I did!

All the best,