Hosted by Hanne Vervaeck

WBS 07: How Recognize Good Ideas (And Avoid Wasting Time on Bad Ones)


How do you separate the bad ideas from the good ones? And how to you do it quickly?


You'll like this episode if:

  • You want a framework on how to pick and recognize your best ideas.
  • You often get stuck in decision paralysis, and you want to have a better way of getting out of that, or
  • You just follow every idea, waste time and don't see any progress.

Sounds good? Then listen to the episode!

Automatic Transcription

It's never gonna work.

I'm looking over my friend's business plan or business idea. And after five minutes looking at it, I just realized that it's never gonna work, she would have to work like 20 hours in order to make this viable. Now, my friend, of course, after being very disappointed, asked me how I made that decision. So quickly, how could I decide on just a matter of minutes, that this idea was not a good idea.

And that is exactly what I want to share with you in this episode. So this episode is for you, if you want a framework on how to pick and recognize your best ideas. If you often get stuck in decision paralysis, and you want to have a better way of getting out of that, or if you just follow every idea, waste time and don't see any progress, then keep on listening.

Hi, there, I'm Hanne, host of the well balanced to success podcast. In this weekly podcast, we explore how you can have it all how you can have a successful career, an active social life, a thriving love and family life, all of that while being healthy and happy. Now, if that sounds like something you would like, then keep on listening.

Now, if the quality of your life is dependent on the quality of your decisions, then making better decisions is automatically going to give you a better life. So that is what we're going to talk about in this episode. And I'll give you some examples of like, ways that I frameworks that I use to make decisions on like business or marketing plans, and so on. But then I'll also give you some suggestions of how you can go about less binary ideas or like ideas that are way harder to quantify. And so we'll go a little bit into the less scientific way of working, but I hope you will enjoy it anyways. Because all of these methods, I find them really, really helpful to make better decisions. So let's dive right in with First of all, how can you analyze marketing and business ideas.

The first and in my opinion, the easiest way to analyze a business idea is doing some back of the napkin math. So the way this works is in very broad strokes, you just imagine how much you would want to make with the with the business how much you would have to sell how much that would cost you. And then this will already give you an A very simple, but very clear idea of whether your your business is actually viable or not. So I don't know if there are fans of the big bang theory that are listening to the podcast. But I really enjoyed the series. And at one point Penny is making like pins. And she's doing this DIY project. And somebody asked her to sell and she's super happy. And she imagines that you can sell this for $15. And then at one point, she's super excited about this business idea. And so she imagined that she can leave her job behind as a waitress. And luckily, Sheldon is there to help her think through all of this. And so yeah, so like, okay, what's the what's how much I earning as a waitress right now? Okay, like, imagine that that is what you want to replace? How many pins would you have to sell? And then how much time do you have to spend on selling one like I'm making one of these pins. And then and this is one that people often forget, it's just between profits and margins.

So if you can sell it for $15, of course, that doesn't mean that those $15 go in your pockets, because often you have to either services or you have to have raw materials or whatever. So imagine that you have to pay $5 in order to get that $15 pin, then the $10 would be of course your profit margin right? And doing this very quick calculation with Sheldon and Penny, they already come to the conclusion that she would be working for like less than $1 an hour if she would actually be able to make all of these. And so then they start to try to optimize the whole process is it's actually a fun episode. But the truth is that often you can find just really easy flaws in a business plan by just doing this back of the napkin math, and don't don't overcomplicate it if you don't really know No one number just estimated, ask someone look online if there are some averages. And then you can start looking at it. But it makes it possible to have a realistic view on what you want to do. So let's take another example, let's say that you want to sell to, you want to sign up to new coaching clients this month. Now, the method that you choose to do that is outreach on LinkedIn. So you're going to send private messages to people on LinkedIn, in order to get your coaching clients. So remember to coaching clients, private messages on LinkedIn, you know that about 10% of the people that you send the message to, would actually answer to your first message, and then out of those 10%, then maybe one of them will become a coaching client. Okay. So question, how many messages Do you have to send? So at this point, if my calculation is right, you will have to send 200 messages.

And now it's up to you? How much time do you have to spend on one of those messages? If it takes you 15 minutes? Do you have 200 times 15 minutes, I should have prepared this? Because doing this out of the back of my head is a bit complicated. But that's that's the amount of time that it would take you to send those messages. So do you have that time? Is that realistic? Can you actually do that? So this is more of like a growth strategy, right? But yeah, you can you can apply this to most of the business models to most of the results that you're expecting. And yeah, if there's, there's a lot of examples. So please come on over. If you need some help with the back of the napkin mouth, come to the well balanced success.com website, and then tell me what what you're working on. And I'm more than happy to refer you about this. But that is a really good way to first get like this big broad idea of how many people would I have to sell this to? Or how many people would I have to contact? Or how many hours would I have to spend on this, and it will just give you like a bit more of a realistic view. So this is, by far, my favorite method is just doing this really quick and dirty calculations on probability possibility and seeing where that goes. Now the second method, which is a little bit more sophisticated, I would say, but you probably need your back of the napkin math anyways. But the the system is called the impact probability effort scale. Now, it's called that way, because I just decided to call it that way. But this is ideal if you have a whole bunch of ideas. And you want to know, what would be the first one to implement. So typically, this is your your marketing efforts in your company, your sales efforts, if your head of marketing and accompany then these would be the things that you can do even just in any job, your day to day and you want to know what's the most impactful thing that you can do? What would move the needle, what would have the biggest chances of moving the needle. So what you do, you list all your ideas, and then on a scale of zero to five, you will rate them on impact on probability and on effort. So on impact from zero being no impact five being really high impact probability from five being very high probability of success and zero being low probability of success and then effort, you actually do the opposite.

Where zero is really, really high effort five is really, really low effort. And then you make a sum of these three numbers, which will give you a total, and then you can see, the highest number will be the, the idea that actually has the most chances of success. Now, let's take a very specific example of this. For for marketing campaigns, one thing that I've heard several times is that people are like, Oh, yeah, but we're gonna go viral. Okay, we're gonna create a video that is going to go viral. Wow, the impact of that would be really high. If you go viral, like let's say that's a four out of five, or even a five out of five on the scale of impact. Now, the probability for that to happen is close to zero, like Ken was likely not going to happen. And then the effort scale is probably quite a lot like making the video and then sharing it proactively and like, hoping to have that flywheel maybe outreaching to people. So the effort scaler would probably give it like, yeah, like a two on effort. So this means that this idea would be rated a seven or five on impact and zero probability, and a two on effort. So a seven, then, if you take another idea, which is, for example, paid advertising, paid advertising, the impacts probably going to be lower. Like, it's free. If you have a good paid campaign, the probability of success are way higher, though, like, I would probably also read that like a three. And the effort is, yeah, you need someone who specialized in that. And you do need to have your creatives and so on.

So probably also like, a two or three, depending on which platform on effort. So now this would be rated nine. So you can see that then probably, if you're not doing it right now, your paid advertising would be a better bet to start with, then that viral campaign. Now, I'm not saying that you shouldn't do that. I'm just saying that it is a really nice way to see like, especially that probability and and there, if the probability is close to zero of something happening, then you shouldn't put all your eggs in that basket. So those are like my two favorite ways of analyzing business and marketing and that kind of ideas. Yeah, anything I can like put numbers on. So the back of the napkin math, and then the impact probability effort scale.

Now, what happens when you have like less scientific methods, but that still work? If you have other ideas? Like? What are some ways to weed through those ideas that are not as easily quantifiable, or so on? So one way? Or one question that I like to ask is, if you could only do one thing. So this works really well, if you're hesitating between two or three things? And then you just ask yourself, like, intuitively, if you could only do one thing, and you will actually be surprised at how good this question works. And I've seen it work like really well, we were having a discussion with with one of my team members, and she was hesitating whether she should focus on one thing or focus on the other thing, and honestly, like business wise, probably both would have like, about the same impact. And then I asked it was like, okay, so if you could only do one thing, what would it be? And she just immediately said, like, Oh, yeah, the second one, like no hesitation whatsoever. So that made it really easy.

Both are the same impact. So at that point, you can just be what's what's the one thing that I like, want to do or that I feel good about. Now, another way to use more of like, your gut feeling in deciding on ideas, is heads or tails. Now, who's a friend of friends? Okay, this episode makes it look like I just watched the vision at non stop. But I just like the classics, you know, like friends over and over again. So apparently seen all the episodes quite some time.

And there is this one episode with Phoebe and Rachel, in the bathroom. They had a wedding, I think. And so Rachel is, thinks that she's pregnant. And Phoebe basically takes the test and then tells her like, Oh, it's negative. And at that point, Rachel realizes that she's actually disappointed about it being negative. And then Phoebe is like, Oh, it's just dunking, it's actually positive. Now, that's be very, very clear, I would not do that with a pregnancy test. And I would also not do that with a friend. Like, this is something that you can play this game with yourself, okay? Don't pull anybody into this. But I call it the hazard tail method actually works really, really well. If you can't decide. So if you're not sure about what's going on, and you're like trying to overanalyze it, and so on, then you can basically do heads or tails, and then feel like if you just made heads or tail decide. So let's say you can decide whether you're going to London or Paris next weekend, and you just flip a coin and it shows Paris and you're like, Oh, damn, I want to go to London. That's it, you have your answer. So often, you're overanalyzing stuff. And that is why you don't let your real desire come through. And so the heads or tail method is just really, really good at analyzing that. And then one more thing is that it's good to realize that like very little decisions are actually irreversible.

So if you're one of those people who has trouble deciding and then is scared about making the wrong decision, like it's just good to keep in mind, like, very little things are irreversible. So the main thing is that you just make your decision and then also force yourself not to what if.

So, this is like the best recipe for disaster or for feeling bad is if then you start asking what if so you made a decision, you chose one of the two houses, and you sign the lease and whatever. And then it's like, oh, but what if I would have picked the other one? Well, you didn't like that. Just live with it right now. Right? So I do think like, that's also just very important to go with your idea to hundred percent and then just stand behind it and be happy with that idea. So now, I want to hear from you come to the well balanced success.com websites. I would love to hear from you. I'm always interested in knowing other methods and other ways that people deal with this. So come on over to the website and let's have a conversation. Now, as always, thank you for listening and talk soon. 

Let's Discuss!

Are you currently stuck on any ideas, not sure if you should move forward? Have you used other techniques for making a decision? Please let me know in the comments below!

And as always, thank you for listening and talk to you soon.

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SELECTED episode:

WBS 02: How to Create Meaningful Connections 

About the Show

Hi there. I'm Hanne, host of the Well Balanced Success podcast (WBS) in this weekly podcast, we explore how you can have it all. How you can have a successful career, an active social life, a thriving love and family life all that while being healthy and happy. Now if that sounds like something you would like, then subscribe to get notified.

Your Host: Hanne Vervaeck

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