9 Reasons to Keep a Startup Idea Journal

A startup idea journal is a place where you can capture and explore your ideas for startups and new ventures (or really any ideas for new projects, new processes, new products, or new services). Idea journals can help you capture your project ideas, key features, observations, areas for improvements, and goals. Or you can make lists of what you need to learn or do next. You can also jot down advice, motivational quotes, or just random thoughts.

Whether you carry around an actual notebook and pen — which I recommend — or you log your ideas digitally (via audio/voice notes, Evernote or OneNote, or Microsoft Word), the important thing is to capture, explore, and collect your ideas so that you can spend some time focusing on them and/or come back to them later.

In fact, getting your ideas down in writing may be just as important to finding your next great startup idea as having the idea itself. That’s why, at Idea or Not we’ve created the Startup Idea Journal.

Idea or Not’s Startup Idea Journal is a smart journal designed to help you capture and explore your entrepreneurial ideas. Written and designed by experts in the idea generation and development process, the Startup Idea Journal combines an expert backed system to capture and explore your entrepreneurial ideas with state of the art printing innovations to allow you to capture, explore, upload, store, and share 20,000+ ideas.

Here are 9 ways keeping a Startup Idea Journal will help you explore and develop your next great startup idea:

1. Keeping an idea journal helps you capture and remember your ideas.

Writing your ideas in an idea journal helps you capture your ideas in several ways. First, if you spend a great deal of time thinking about innovation, problem-solving, and startups you are probably going to come up with a lot of opportunity ideas. And chances are, if you don’t write down your ideas, you are not going to remember many of them at all. Writing down your startup ideas captures your ideas (either on paper or digitally) so that you can come back to them later.

Second — and the reason I recommend keeping a written idea journal — is that the act of writing down your ideas increases learning and memory. In fact, the act of writing anything down helps you remember it.

2. Keeping an idea journal allows you to clarify and explore your ideas.

When you write your ideas down, it forces you to focus on the idea in order to clarify your own thinking and express your idea clearly. According to author and business school professor Michael Leboeuf, “When you write down your ideas you automatically focus your full attention on them. Few if any of us can write one thought and think another at the same time. Thus, a pencil and paper make excellent concentration tools.”

Additionally, in order to get your idea out of your head and into words on a page, you must spend some time identifying and organizing the elements of your idea before writing. While many ideas may initially sound good in your head, there are likely many elements that you have yet to consider and work out. Writing down your ideas forces you to think about your ideas both critically and holistically and will likely reveal many elements that you do not yet understand but need to find out.

3. Keeping an idea journal makes your ideas more real.

Writing your ideas down is the first step to getting them out of your head and beginning to make them reality. When you write down your ideas, especially when you write by hand with a pen and paper, they become physical. They become something you can see and touch. They become more real.

When you write your ideas down, you can also start to envision and map out the next steps you will need to take to bring your idea to life. This is an important contribution and step, as it helps you create action plans and goals to bring your ideas to life.

4. Keeping an idea journal helps motivate you.

Writing down your business ideas can also serve to help to motivate you. As you write down and explore your ideas, make lists of the next steps, and begin to take action- your ideas may transform into goals. Setting goals helps to motivate you, increases your effort and persistence, and fights procrastination.

Writing down your business ideas in an idea journal also allows you track your progress, reflect on your learning, and accumulate knowledge. These factors work to further increasing your confidence, motivation, and ultimately your empowerment to take action.

5. Keeping an idea journal is a way to develop your skills at generating creative ideas.

Writing down your ideas is good practice at creativity and idea generation. Like most skills, generating value-creating ideas is a skill that you can develop and become better at through practice and experience.

As you practice identifying and writing down ideas, you can also reflect on the ideas you have generated. You may start to notice patterns in the ideas you are identifying, or patterns in attractive startup ideas. In this way, keeping an idea journal can help you become more observant, and you should notice that you start to have more and more ideas throughout the day.

6. Keeping an idea journal is also a good way to evaluate your ideas and assumptions.

Every idea is based on some set of assumptions. Assumptions are just educated guesses on how the various elements of your idea may work together and play out. These guesses may be true, or they may not. Writing down your ideas can help you to identify the assumptions you are making so that you can begin testing (or gathering information to test) your hunches.

Once you have examined your assumptions, you can also begin evaluating the attractiveness of your idea. Attractive ideas are feasible, desirable, sustainable, and timely.

7. Keeping an idea journal will help you develop your skills at evaluating ideas.

Writing down your business ideas can also serve as practice exploring and evaluating ideas. As you capture and explore more ideas, you will become more and more comfortable at identifying the elements of attractive ideas.

Understanding the elements of attractive ideas will help you identify better ideas — those that are more feasible, desirable, sustainable, and timely.

8. Keeping an idea journal helps you organize and compare ideas.

Hopefully, keeping an idea journal will help you generate and capture a lot of ideas. Since some of these ideas are going to be better than others, organizing these ideas in an idea journal allows to consider more than one idea at a time so that you can compare and evaluate your ideas against each other.

Organizing and comparing collections of ideas often leads to better ideas. This is because organizing and comparing multiple ideas at once allows you to choose the best idea to spend your time developing, rather than having to make a decision whether to pursue each Idea or Not.

Comparing and contrasting your ideas may also help you come up with completely new ideas by mixing and matching the elements from your idea set.

9. Keeping an idea journal ensures that you can come back and review your ideas.

Your idea journal should be a working document. As you watch for and study startup ideas, you may have new insights into your old ideas and discover ideas you may have never connected otherwise.

Every few months you should come back to your ideas and re-think and re-evaluate them. Personally, I flip through my idea journal every few months and skim over all of my ideas. Sometimes you may add notes and information. Other times you may come up with a completely new idea combining elements from old ideas with something you had learned about in between.