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I am an entrepreneur with a passion for removing frustration from technology, through good design. I am blessed to have an idea tree. I get excited every time I pluck an idea from that tree. But when you are running a business, there are some ideas that are an opportunity to grow, and some ideas that are a total or a distraction. So much of a distraction that it could quickly put you out of business. Here are 5 ways I discern the difference between an opportunity or a distraction.

1. Pray about it.

As a Christ follower, I believe it is important to take any idea or potential opportunity that is presented to me to prayer. God, who is omniscient (knows all), has a plan for us; and through prayer I can receive clarity on whether or not this idea is the breakthrough next step to scale the business, or whether its simply a distraction that seems right, but really leads to a huge setback. (For those of you who are not religious, proceed to the next step 2)

2. Sleep on it.

There are times when an idea gets you so motivated that all you can do is think about it. I recommend sleeping on the idea. If you wake up the next day and the idea is still consuming your mind, use that energy to begin to mull things over. I know for me, I’ll get an idea and become so inthralled with excitement that I cannot stop talking to my wife and team about it. Sometimes I’ll get the sense that they’re less than amused, but they know that if I’m still excited about the idea after a few days of spinning my wheels, they begin to buy into it.

3. Mull it over (think it through)

Role-play how this idea would work within your current business. Ask yourself, is this idea going to help me become better at what I do? Will I be able to reach more people, serve more customers, expand our marketshare with this idea? Does it fit inside of our vision, and is this idea true to our mission? Will we need to create new roles to manage this idea or can it be plugged into our existing business model?

 

4. Beat it up.

Sometimes I also play devil’s advocate. I am naturally an optimist and find it easy to overlook flaws. Look at the idea from a pessimists perspective. Run it through the ringer. Is this idea proven? Are there any examples of people in my industry or in the market in general putting this idea to practice? Do we really have a competitive advantage if we move forward with this idea?

5. Seek council (take it to the board)

So you’ve beat the idea to death, still enthusiastic about it, now you are ready to share it with those whom you value their opinion. Its important to get input from those who are outside of the business. Often a board of advisors or directors, they have the experience, and ability to listen and evaluate the idea without an emotional attachment. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve received invaluable insight from my advisors. Sometimes the idea may be a breakthrough that leads to another idea that ultimately becomes what propels you forward. Other times the discussion with your advisors uncover potential barriers to overcome that are not worth investing the time necessary to make the idea a reality. This my friends is what we call a distraction.

In conclusion, If after praying about it, sleeping on it, mulling it over, and seeking council the idea still stands strong, run forward as fast as you can. You’ve struck gold and are well on your way to seizing the opportunity.