September 25, 2013

A book that helped me “make my ideas happen”

Making Ideas Happen by Scott BelskyLast week, I wrote about how Evernote helped me launch my new business, typebaby. Now, Id like to share a book that helped me turn my ideas into reality: Making Ideas Happen: Overcoming the Obstacles Between Vision & Reality by Scott Belsky, founder and CEO of Behance.

This book has been a fixture on my desk for almost a year. When I was preparing to launch typebaby, I read the book in my car while my son was napping. I read a few pages before I went to bed. And I flagged lots of pages.

Here are a 8 takeaways that I found especially helpful:

1. Break projects into primary elements

Belsky calls this the “Action Method” and it involves breaking down your project into Action Steps, References and Backburner items. This was important for me, as I was getting overwhelmed by everything I needed to accomplish prior to launching. I also liked his tip of writing your Action Steps in short phrases starting with action verbs, i.e. “Mock up a sample of…”

2. Create an energy line

I recently wrote a post on the HOW Design Creative Freelancer Blog about creating an energy line and how it was helping me prioritize my projects. This book is where I learned about it and I still update mine weekly.

3. Let go of dead-end projects

“You must be willing to kill ideas liberally—for the sake of fully pursuing other.” As a creative person, I really struggle with this. I have so many ideas and want to pursue all of them. This book made me realize that I couldn’t (and shouldn’t) pursue all of my ideas. But if was really attached, I could just put an idea on the backburner and return to it later.

4. Reduce time spent on “insecurity work”

Belsky says, “Along the journey to making ideas happen, you must reduce the amount of energy you spend on stuff related to your insecurities.” This is a powerful statement. Whether it’s launching a product or writing a blog post, I’ve had insecurities pop up that kept me from moving forward.

He goes on to say, “We seek information to make our anxiety go away.” I know I’m guilty of over-researching. I postponed launching my product line until I felt everything was perfect (according to my unattainable standards). In fact, it was my husband who finally said to me: “just do it, already!”

5. Don’t go it alone

The book emphasizes partnerships. Not necessarily a business partnership, but collaborations with people who have complementary skills to help you move your project along, or like-minded people who can keep you accountable. I found this very helpful and I still reach out to my mentors and accountability buddies.

6. Seek out your competition

I thought this was an interesting concept. Belsky writes, “Ideas often have the tendency to lie stagnant until we are jolted into action by either excitement or fear.” It’s true. Watching your competition is crucial for all small business owners—and it can be a great way to push your idea into action. As Belsky says, “Seek out competition and be grateful for it. By embracing [it], you will stay at the top of your game.”

7. Go public and create accountability

When you feel accountable to your idea, you are more likely to push through and make it happen. I like to discuss my ideas with a few trusted friends who I can count on to regularly ask, “So, how is [your new idea] going?” If I know someone will be asking about it, I am more likely to focus on it.

Publicly announcing your idea also shows your commitment to it. As Belsky writes, “Only after publicly committing themselves did [leaders of new companies] experience full support from their communities.”

 8. Keep perspective and an open mind

Belsky notes how creatives can get caught up in “visionary narcissism.” We get so caught up in our idea, we are unaware of what’s been done before and consider our idea totally unique. Keep an open mind when relating with or following people in your industry—you can learn from them. As Belsky writes, “Not much is entirely new, and yes, we can adequately  learn from the past.”

Have you read Making Ideas Happen? What were your key takeaways?