Seven. That was the temperature outside when I was layering on two coats just to take my dog outside. Bracing myself, I snapped on his leash and stepped out into the brisk morning air. Un-phased by the sharp cold, he darted to a corner of the front lawn and picked up something in his mouth.
I can tell he knows he’s found a forbidden snack because he looks happy as a clam. When I look down to see what he found, I see a big pile of frozen dog shit dangling from his mouth. Like something you’d buy at a novelty store when you were a kid and put on the kitchen floor for your mom to freak out about. Except this shit was real.
I had two choices—Option 1: let my dog eat the shit, or Option 2: pry it out of his mouth.
After a short internal debate of the pros and cons of the situation, I chose Option 2—pry dog shit out of my dog’s mouth. He wasn’t very happy. Nor was I.
After running back inside, thoroughly washing my hands and grumbling a few choice words, I got to thinking…How many times do entrepreneurs do practically the same thing? How many times do we pick up random ideas here or there that we’re thrilled about at first, but later they just turn out to be shit (i.e. a total waste of time)? Let me give you an example…
When I was a health coach years ago, I was trying to figure out my ideal target market. At the time, I was working with anybody and everybody who would let me swipe their credit card. But I was determined to niche down. I was intent on becoming a “big fish in a small pond”—to be the go-to person for a particular topic/niche. Yet, I didn’t know who I wanted to work with.
During this time, I had “ah-ha” moments weekly. One week, I decided that I wanted to work with teenagers and spent all my time figuring out how to reach them. Then a few weeks later, I changed my mind (note: I don’t really like teenagers) and decided to work with people with thyroid diseases. So I went down that path for a while. But the most memorable target market I picked was brides…
The big “ah-ha” moment hit me one evening like a ton of bricks—I should work with brides because EVERY bride wants to lose weight before her wedding day.
The idea seemed foolproof, profitable…dare a say genius. My face probably lit up just the way my dog’s did this morning when he discovered his shit treasure. So without much deliberation, I ran with this target market idea. I spent weeks creating marketing material for brides. I put together workshops for brides. I joined a costly wedding co-op in town to get brides referred to me for my nutrition coaching.
In the end, after months of hard work, I never landed one single bride as a client. Not one. (Note: I’m not a big fan of brides either.)
Looking back, I can see that if I had been able to choose the right niche market and stick with it from the beginning, I would have seen my business take off at a much faster rate. Instead, I wasted tons of valuable time latching on to each new shiny business idea I came up with—most which ultimately turned out to be shit.
If you want to grow your business quickly, you have to calibrate your shit detector. Once you do this effectively, you will:
- Save yourself years of wasted time and energy
- Avoid frustrating dead-ends and burnout
- Make more money in a shorter period of time
- Consistently stay on track towards your important business or life goals
- Practice taking intentional action towards creating the business you want
When you have a new business idea or “ah ha” moment—whether it’s for a brand new business, a new marketing idea, a new product/service you want to offer, etc.—pause and ask yourself the following 3 questions:
1. Is your idea about love or money?
Why do you want to implement your new idea? Is it because you love the idea so much that you can’t imagine not doing it? Because it excites you to no end? Or is it because you think it’s an idea that will lead to quick/easy/frequent money? Be honest—you know the difference.
For me, I don’t have much love for teenagers OR brides. In retrospect, I realized I chose those niches merely because I thought I’d be able to easily land clients (so I could quickly grow my business and make money). But what happened? Well, a whole lot of nothing happened. I wasted time following the white rabbit into wonderland and eventually had to backtrack to choose a niche market that I truly wanted to work with (and start all over again).
Choose ideas you LOVE. No exceptions. If you choose ideas just for the money/ease/convenience, you’ll constantly be veering off the path to success.
2. Are you willing to work on your idea consistently for the next two years?
Unless you’re willing to be consistent about implementing your new idea for the next couple years, you should write it off right now. Consistency wins when it comes to having success with your ideas.
For instance, say you have a great new marketing idea for your business. You implement it for a month and look at the results—pretty dismal, right? Probably didn’t result in the money tidal wave you were expecting. So you give up on it because it was too much work and didn’t pay off. BUT if you stuck with it for a year or two years, you’d probably be in great shape.
As a health coach, if I was willing to consistently my invest time and energy to market to brides (that is, if I loved working with brides), you better bet I would have had a thriving coaching practice. My problem was that I kept changing my marketing strategy over and over again, having to start from scratch each time.
3. Does the idea line up with your business and/or life goals?
You might love an idea and be ready to be consistent with it, but if it doesn’t line up with your business or life goals, then it’s not going to be a good choice for you to pursue.
For example, say you’re an author and have the idea that you want to travel around the country to market your books through speaking engagements. You simply love the idea AND you’re willing to be consistent with it. BUT you have two small kids at home that you want to spend as much time with as possible. In this case, your idea doesn’t line up with your life goals and therefore, is worth re-evaluating before implementation.
Ask yourself: If I act on my idea does it get me closer to my business goals (or life goals) or further away? Then only choose the ideas that get you closer to where you want to go, not ones that turn out to be shit.
My dog loves shit—to sniff it, roll in it, and now, to eat it. If he was an entrepreneur, he’d find a way to package it and sell it to other dogs. But you and I aren’t in the shit business. Some ideas are turds, no matter how well you polish them. The key is to start to recognize them as such BEFORE implementing them.
Photo credit: Photo provided by Miss Pixels https://www.flickr.com/photos/misspixels/ License: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/