How To Have 10 Amazing Ideas Before Breakfast (and how to act on them)

This guy. Am I right?

When you’re an entrepreneur, you have a lot of ideas. When you’ve been an entrepreneur for as long as I have, you have a million ideas. Granted, a lot of these are trash. You can’t get to the great ideas until you sift through all the crap ones.

I know what you’re thinking — Everyone has a million ideas. Ideas are cheap. Ideas are easy. This isn’t true. Your average everyday person doesn’t have a million ideas. They might get a good idea once in a while.

You probably don’t have a million ideas, but you probably have more than you think, so go ahead and jot down 10 ideas right now.

10 Ideas Before Breakfast

It doesn’t have to be the first thing you do everyday, but before you get into your daily routine, open your laptop or your phone or your notebook and write down some ideas.

What kind of ideas? It honestly doesn’t matter. Here’s why:

One of the misconceptions of ideation, especially in the entrepreneurial universe, is that an idea has to be world-changing and complex and beautiful the instant it comes our of our brains. This is not the case.

Any business or product or project worth doing didn’t come to be in a single flash of inspiration. Part of it did, sure, maybe the initial spark, but the fully formed idea was realized over time. The truth is that a great idea, like a great idea for a successful product, is actually dozens or even hundreds of ideas lumped together.

So let’s rethink our definition of what an idea is. Ideas are like breaths of air. They’re super-plentiful, but each one counts in the moment.

Write down no more than ten. Do five if you can’t get to ten. If you’re still stuck, then your brain is grinding on the process and killing your creativity. This happens. Get up and go do something else and come back later.

Initial Ideas Should Be Unique

Our ideas don’t have to change the world, they just have to change something. Ideas must be actions, not opinions, and they should have reasons, but reasons aren’t critical.

“Do this, because that.”

That’s it. That’s the basis of an idea. Now let’s do ten of them. They should impact some part of our life — our work, our hobbies, our health, our happiness. They can be about our golf swing or our relationship or our development sprint. It doesn’t matter.

In fact, the more well-rounded we make our ideas the more effective we’re going to be overall. If we come up with an idea that saves us a half-hour worth of housecleaning, we’ve just bought ourselves an extra half-hour to work on our business.

We can have two ideas about the same thing. In fact, we can have all ten ideas about the same thing, as long as each idea is unique.

Build On Ideas With New Ideas

Tomorrow, we’re going to come back to our idea sheet, start a new date, and add up to ten more ideas. Sometimes I like to walk back through yesterday and see if I learned anything.

Again, we don’t have to get to ten new ideas, especially after the first day, because once we get done with today’s ideas we’re going to go back the each of the last three to four days and see if there’s any of those ideas we can build on with new ideas.

If we can move an idea forward by changing it or adding to it, we do that. If we can’t, we either let it go (don’t worry, great ideas always circle back to us), or we take action.

Turn Ideas Into Action

Let me clarify something first: A task is not an idea. “Take out the garbage,” “Switch hosting providers,” or “Schedule 30 minutes with my boss,” are not ideas. These are to-dos, tasks, action items, whatever you want to call them.

That said, almost all ideas die because they never become actions. This means we have to have a list of actions, or a task list, or to-do list. And when an idea becomes actionable, even if that action is “talk to someone about our idea,” we add that to our task list.

Then we’re done with that idea until we complete the task, or come up with an update to that idea, or come up with a new idea for whatever it is we were working on.

Tasks become larger tasks, those tasks become projects, those projects become larger projects, and then we’ve got something real.

Was it started from a single idea? It might seem like it, but if we go back through our pages and pages of ideas, we’ll pretty quickly see that it was multiple ideas that made the thing happen.