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Question 1: Does this align with my goals?
Question 2: Have I properly defined this?
Question 3: Can I position this profitably?
Question 4: How can I pre-sell this?
Question 5: Am I ready to get going now?
Table of Contents
In just the same way as NASA never launches a space mission because "it sounds like a good idea", you should not launch your new idea just because it sounds good. The first test of a new idea is to ask whether it in fact aligns with your long-term goals. If it doesn't, don't waste your time or resources.
Building an idea into a successful business doesn't guarantee you will have a happy life or career. To feel good about what you're doing, your idea has to align with your personal passions and interests. Thus, before you get too enthusiastic about your new idea, you have to pause and make certain this will take you in a direction you want to go.
To test alignment, run your new idea through three thought experiments:
The Airport Test
The History Test
The Shark Bait Test
"Of course, in order for a business to become successful, it takes more than just coming up with the right idea. There’s the execution of it, the design, the marketing, the copywriting, the offers, and so on, but none of those things will help if the idea isn’t good. That’s why it’s insane to me that most people who teach business and entrepreneurship skip over this part." — Pat Flynn
"Building a successful business takes a lot of time, so why should you spend it on something you could ultimately regret even if it were to become successful?" — Pat Flynn
Test1 The Airport Test
Imagine that you're talking to a friend in five years time while you are both sitting at the airport waiting for a flight. Your friend asks, "How's things going in your life and career?" and you answer, "Amazingly good. Life couldn't get any better!"
Will following through on your bold new idea enable you to respond like that and really mean it? Are you just about to put something awesome into your life, or is it just the same old idea recycled over and over again? If you can look five years into the future and feel incredibly good about executing on your bold new idea, then that's a pretty good first step.
"Entrepreneurs are notorious for 'idea churn' – starting something new, only to abandon it for another idea. Sometimes this churn is fast, and sometimes it’s slow, but our goal here is to reduce the chances of churn happening at all." — Pat Flynn
A good exercise is to take a blank sheet of paper and fold it in half and then half again. In each quadrant, write one of the four categories that are important to you. For example, your four quadrants might be:
In each quadrant, write down examples of things you'd like to be happening in that area five years from now. That will help you define what you want your life and career to look like five years in the future. You then decide how your bold new idea fits into your vision of your perfect future life.
"The truth is if you don’t have a passion for what you are doing, your energy will eventually fizzle out. It always does." — Pat Flynn
Test 2 The History Test
Think back to three or more jobs you've had in your career. For each job, write down:
■When you did it.
■Three things you enjoyed about that job.
■Three things you disliked about that job.
■Your favorite memory.
■An overall grade: A, B, C, or D.
Now look for any patterns which are there. Think about:
1What seems to motivate you the most?