Two of the best things you can do for your business are 1) coming up with fresh, innovative ideas, and 2) maintaining an inspired and motivated vigour in you as a business owner, freelancer or creative person.
Writing lists will help you very effectively with these two things.
Rarely do we spend time channeling our thoughts in such a way that we exhaust every idea we can think of regarding a particular thing.
When we brainstorm in this way, and get it down on paper, we often surprise ourselves with our creativity and breadth of idea-generation. Writing lists is an excellent way to open our minds, think big, and self-motivate. Choosing the right lists to write can also transform your business.
The following are lists I recommend every business owner write down to do just that.
The longer the list the better. It’s about brainstorming, so just get your ideas down, and as much as possible for each list.
Then take what you consider to be the best ideas and answers, and use those as golden nuggets to push your business forward for the better, in each case.
Here we go…
1. What do you want
An awareness of what you really want for your business or career is a big one. You absolutely must know, in clear detail, what you want, and this extends to every other aspect of your life too. Your desires are not selfish (within reason!). They are important in keeping you focused, motivated and actually doing something active.
It’s surprising how many of us have never spent much time thinking about, and actually clarifying what it is we truly do want for ourselves.
How much income to make; what kinds of clients you want to work with; how much free time you want; how much to put into savings each month; awards you’re aiming for. These are all things to include in your list.
Translate these wants into goals when you’re done listing them out, and you have the foundations for a very effective ‘guidance blueprint’ to get you taking effective action each day.
2. Why do you want those things
A list of your wants is strengthened further when you specify why it is you want those wants listed previously. Adding a why is spoken about a lot, but it really is crucial.
Being clear on your reasons for your desires will reinforce your motivation behind going for the things you really want, and dropping those you didn’t really want in the first place.
Craft the mission of your business (and your life) with the insight you’ve extracted through this exercise.
3. Who are all the types of people you could serve
Having a very specific target group that you dedicated your products and services towards is the cornerstone for a great deal of what is spoken about on Red Lemon Club. If you’re unclear on your target market, a great way to start is to brainstorm in a list all those types of people and businesses that could benefit from your skills and services.
Get them all down. Then use this list as a reference for a ‘whittling down’ process through which you can identify a much more focused group of people you have determined to dedicate your service towards. This really will transform your business.
4. Ideas on how to improve the efficiency of your business
It’s amazing how much a little bit of personal list-making with a little research can do to reveal ways to improve your business system. Put some time into learning about and thinking about the ways in which you could save time and maximise your output or income, and write it all down.
Think of your business as a system or a machine. It is rare that you have one that is perfectly functioning and well-oiled.
One way to do this is by applying the ‘Pareto Principle’ to your past clients to see what kinds of people or businesses are the most and least valuable to you.
5. Things you say ‘no’ to
This leads us to writing up a list of all the things you consciously decide to reject when it comes to potential clients and customers.
Write down all the characteristics (the Pareto exercise will help), elements and qualities that you will actively reject in future clients. Base this on your previous experiences, research, and your own decision-making.
There will inevitably be some lenience depending on the client and project, but there is a lot of value in writing it all down, and being aware of the boundaries you set, and then demonstrating these boundaries outwardly to prospects.
Having a ’no’ list will focus your efforts, keep your stress levels down, and reduce wasted time, not to mention growing your reputation in your industry, and amongst your clients, for having standards, which is vital.
Many of these points can be transferred over into any written contractual documents you create for your business.
6. Out of business experiences
A really fun list to write takes us away from the business world, and into the world of ‘extra-curricular experiences’. Think of some things you’d like to do, places to go, hobbies to take up, with a healthy smattering of things that would really challenge you.
All of this stuff will add a ton of value to not only yourself as someone of interest with an interesting background, but to your business also. Your work will benefit from being run by someone who isn’t all business, but someone who has life experiences in other places.
7. Extra value content ideas
Write down as many ideas as you can for written, audio or video content for your blog, social media feed, or anywhere else that you share value with the world.
I always talk about the effectiveness in providing extra value as a business owner in attracting clients, fans and customers. Get your knowledge, especially stuff that relates to your skill, out into the world, and you will bring people into yours.
8. Things that block your business
Getting conscious about all the things that could be blocking the forward progress of your business and career, can be incredibly useful.
Mix your own powers of deduction with some research and talking to people about your business, and you will learn a lot about what can be done to transform your business system.
List anything you can think of that could be having a negative effect on the success of your work and business, then put that knowledge to active good use.
9. Books to read that would directly benefit your business
Nothing beats the insight you can gain from a single well-researched and well-written book. Put some time into putting together an extensive list of all the books (and online articles and forums too) that you know would help your business directly.
I know that a huge proportion of the successes I’ve seen in my life are down to reading good books. Prioritise what gets read first, and get reading!
10. People to connect with
The relationships you have with people, in their various guises and forms are so valuable in taking your business to the next level.
They are a source of insight, exposure, other connections, mentorship and guidance. What many of us do not do, is actually plan who it is we want to connect with and meet.
Write down the people you’d benefit from knowing in your list, then go out and reach out.
11. Ideas for new products/services
What you include in this list will vary according to the type of business or industry you are in, but for a lot of us, coming up with new ideas or additions to our products and services are crucial in keeping things fresh and moving forward.
Include other ideas for your business in general too, including those things that would boost your brand and exposure. Get it all down.
Once you have an exhaustive list of ideas (something to keep adding to frequently), start an action plan for building those ideas into reality.
Thanks for reading! What other lists have you been writing?