The Passionate Entrepreneur - A Small Biz Idea Book

Rhonda Abrams

Like many entrepreneurs, I'm plagued by having too many good ideas. Every day, every week, I think up new marketing programs, new products I could introduce, even whole new businesses I could launch.

I'm not alone. Virtually every business owner I've ever met has tons of bright ideas for building their company. But if we're not careful, all those schemes for increasing income tomorrow can easily distract us from the core business that already brings us money.

Fortunately, I've devised an easy way to keep my great ideas from overwhelming me and my business -- my Red Book.

This is a simple red three-ring binder I keep in my office. Whenever someone in my company has an inspiration for a new product, service, marketing approach, or other new concept, they just write it down in the Red Book. We also note anything to change or fix in the next version of our products. That way, we don't lose or forget the information.

Surprisingly, there's something extremely satisfying in the simple act of writing down an idea. I think it's the fact that at least we've taken some action. It's not an empty action, either: Every year, we start our annual planning session by looking at the ideas in the Red Book. No idea is discarded without first being evaluated.

And we no longer feel as if we have to act on all our good ideas immediately. New concepts become part of a disciplined planning process instead of a "drop everything" diversion.

My Red Book has been an invaluable tool for keeping the company focused. I've learned something else, too. Each year, when the staff and I review all the good ideas we wrote down in the Red Book, we discover that a lot of those good ideas -- when looked at closely -- weren't such great ideas after all. Thank goodness we didn't drop everything to act on them.

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