Fashion Business Owner Musings: The Need for Idea Discipline

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There’s something I see happen a lot with creative fashion business owners that I want to talk about — the need for having idea discipline.

Some business owners have so many “great ideas” for the business that they wind up distracted from what’s important. Rather than focusing on one idea and seeing it through, they often start many of the ideas, get things rolling, and then feel overwhelmed by the amount of work necessary to make it all happen so they move onto the next idea.

Some call it shiny object syndrome. I call it a lack of idea discipline.

Is this something you’ve experienced? There’s no shame in it. As creative people, new ideas are a constant and it’s easy to fall into the habit of exploring them to the point of distraction from the bigger picture.

When you’re working to grow businesses from scratch, and it’s just you or you and a small team, all the many ideas that pop up are only going to happen if you make them happen. So it can feel almost irresponsible not to explore them. It’s easy to feel the pressure to do more, try more, make more happen.

And it’s difficult to decide which idea(s) is best pursued, get focused on one thing, and see the idea through.

But having idea discipline is a must if you want to make actual progress in your business.

Having a certain amount of idea discipline will go a long way in helping to make stuff actually happen, rather than everything becoming an idea you once had.

Discipline is a muscle that can be strengthened if we really want it to be.

By forming certain habits, we can get way better at organizing our ideas, assessing them for do-ability, and creating the plan to make them happen or not.

So this week’s musing is a challenge. I want you to practice building this habit.

Here’s your step-by-step for making three ideas happen, and disciplining yourself to ignore all the other ideas (for now).

  • Open up a notebook and write down every idea you currently have for your business. Just write, don’t think about whether they’re possible. This can be product ideas, marketing ideas, business operations ideas. A good trick for this is taking a look at that never ending to-do you have in your notebook.
  • Now read through the list and, using your gut, circle two ideas that put a giant smile on your face and give you excitement butterflies. Examples of this are things like: Instagram giveaways, new styles, blogger collaborations, an event, updating the content on your website, freshening up your branding…
  • Next underline one that may not be super exciting but will have an impact on your business operations. Examples of this are things like: start using accounting software, organize your workspace, switch to a new website platform because your current one is too limiting…
  • Now you’ve got three ideas you’re going to focus on.
  • Take your three ideas and open up a free platform like Asana or Trello, whichever works best for you.
  • Make each of these ideas a “project” in your chosen platform.
  • Add a due date to each project, thinking honestly about the amount of time it will take you to complete.
  • Under each project list every single tiny task you need to do in order to see the project completed. And I mean tiny.
  • Assign due dates to each task based on the project completion date you set for yourself.
  • Now block off time in your calendar, throughout the week, specifying which project you’re going to focus on. i.e. Thursday from noon-3pm is focused on Project #1.
  • Add your time blocks every Sunday for the week ahead and don’t ignore them. No matter what. The thing is, if you’ve pared down your project into the tiniest possible tasks, then you shouldn’t feel overwhelmed when you sit down to focus, because you know exactly what you’re going to do.

As I say to my StartUp FASHION Community members all the time…

Specific Goals = Accomplished Goals

Now take those leftover ideas you have and create a new list (perhaps in your new fancy project management platform!), and don’t look at it again until  you’ve got these three ideas completed. And I mean completed.

The only caveat to not looking at it again is to add your new ideas to the list when they pop in your head. That way, rather than letting these new ideas challenge your newly created idea discipline, you are storing them for the near future.

You now have an Idea Doc.

And honestly, when you know that you’re not “allowed” to work on your new ideas until you’ve completed the ones in front of you, I swear it will get your butt in gear because you just can’t wait to get to the next ones.

You can do this.

I know that business is difficult. I know that sometimes it seems like there is far more to do than one person can handle. But I also know that when you can learn to take one step at a time and really see it through, progress happens.

I took this blog I started 15 years ago and turned it into a multiple six figure business. Not with investment money, not with a team of 20 people. I did it with at first one person, then two people, now five people. We did it by taking one step at a time and seeing ideas through to completion.

And though I still sometimes struggle with idea discipline, I’ve gotten much, much better than I used to be.  And I know you can do it, too.

Lots of love and encouragement,

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Nicole Giordano

Nicole is the founder of StartUp FASHION, an online resource and community supporting for independent designers around the world with building their businesses. A deep love for the craft of fashion paired with an adamant belief that success is defined by the individual, led her to found StartUp FASHION, where she helps independent designers and makers screw the traditional fashion business rules, create their own paths, and build businesses they truly love. More than anything else, she’s in the business of encouragement and works every day to remind makers and designers that they have something special to offer the world and that they can, in fact, do this thing!

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