Personal Branding

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Ending Entrepreneurial Madness: How to Eliminate Ideas to Remain Productive!

The mind of a true entrepreneur is one that is creative, busy, hungry and above all – most of the time – lets face it, a complete mess! With the creative juices flowing twenty-four hours a day, literally… sometimes it’s hard to switch off, rest, and across the board, stay productive – which is required to avoid entrepreneurial burnout.

An even harder feat is making sure that those ideas get captured in the right way (mind-maps, and all!) so that you can get them out of your head space, and start working on them – when its not time to sleep!

I recently got an email from VBL Subscriber, Michael Manning, which I’m going to cut and paste here:


I am new to your website and, truly find it confusingly awesome!

Great job making the reader look at their life from another angle. After reading over many articles, I keep coming back to one question. How does a self proclaimed “serial entrepreneur” find it so easy to start business after business so effortlessly when most of us are too scared to step out and start out our first?

Have you streamlined the process and, if so it would be fantastic to hear about it. I too have many “ideas” and would love to learn how to put them into operation in a relatively short period of time. Again, the site rocks and I look forward to hearing from you.

Thank you,
Michael Manning

I replied to Michael, as I do everyone that write’s in, but following hitting the send button, it actually got me thinking even more… I’ve heard this from many, many followers of this blog in the last year, as well as other countless entrepreneurs that I have been in touch with before in the past.

Here at the VBL Blog we’re about creating a ‘lifestyle that you’ll love to live’ (taken directly from our podcast intro!). In recent months we’ve been tagged as a ‘lifestyle design’ blog (currently ranked #1 for the above mentioned podcast on iTunes, under the same search term!), which is absolutely fine, because I suppose it is about designing a life to its fullest. However, the focus of the virtual business lifestyle is entrepreneurship, and it always will be – just in a way that doesn’t require for you to be handcuffed to a desk every day!

Can’t Sleep..? Don’t Sleep!

You know what its like – you’re tossing and turning in bed, trying to drop off to sleep, yet your mind is shooting in a million different directions with idea after idea. I’d been suffering from this problem a lot in the last few years as I continued to remain extremely focused on building my outsourcing company to the 200+ employee entity that it is today (we started with just 7 members of staff!).

I would very regularly lack sleep due to just laying there with these self-fueled brainstorming sessions going on in my head, as my sleeping beauty of a wife lay next to me (alright for some, isn’t it!?).

How I 'Used' to Capture My Ideas!

Then one night, around April of this year, as I was in the middle of yet another sleepless night, I had an idea that I simply just could not allow to swim around in my head. I got up. I grabbed my moleskin notepad and a pen from my bag, and I started jotting notes. I drew mind-mapping diagrams on how I saw this service idea working, logo ideas, listed different angles I could attack the market at, potential customer targets, market trends that I knew of, and tons more.

One hour later, I went back to bed, and BOOM – fell to sleep immediately. I woke up seven hours later feeling well rested, and raring to go on the ideas that I had put together in the early hours.

Eliminate Ideas… Remain Productive!

Going back to Michael’s email. Have I streamlined the process to knock out businesses left, right and center..? No. I haven’t. But, I believe that I have got to a point where if I have an idea that comes to me, whether I’m trying to sleep at the time, or whether I’m ‘working’ on something else, I capture it in a way where I make the most of it!

By removing these ideas as and when they pop into my head, I create more entrepreneurial ‘space’, I guess, ending that madness and being able to work on current projects, or to even allow those creative juices to continue to flow on the new idea.

Like that night, where I ended up turning an ‘idea’ into a full blown business model – my Virtual Staff Finder service, which was eventually launched a few months later, by the way. You can find out what I did to get this business to market in just 4 weeks once I pulled the trigger fully on it in this recent article.

Different Device… Same Result.

The 'New Way' of Capturing My Ideas!

As I mentioned above, I used to use moleskin notebooks to capture all my ideas – I have around 10 of them filled to the rim from over the years! I also know many other entrepreneurs that use them, too. However, in early October of this year, I ‘upgraded’ my note-taking structure, so to speak, by purchasing an iPad.

The premise is still the same, obviously – get the ideas out of my head, on ‘paper’ and then get on with whatever I was doing when the idea hit me in the first place – especially if thats trying to sleep!

The great thing about this new process of capturing my ideas, however, is that its digital – instantly.

I use the ultimate app when it comes to note-taking on the iPad. Penultimate (love this name!) is a premium app, meaning you’ll have to shell out some cash for it (forgot how much it is, not much – but, I’d pay double what I did for it, either way!), that allows you to draw and take notes on the screen, and then immediately email them to someone.

In my case, I send them across to my assistant, who will then put them into a more ‘readable’ format, along with any images and mind-maps I sketch out, and then upload them to the Dropbox (which I mentioned in last weeks ‘Top 3 Online Tools’ discussion post) folder we share for me to check out and start working from. I can then add to those files as and when I want to.

Productive Entrepreneur = Successful Entrepreneur

As someone who likes to be as productive as possible each and every day, this way of capturing my ideas, mind-maps and business rambles is perfect for me. It allows me to stay focused, and to actually be MORE creative in setting up and overseeing various businesses.

I wish I could streamline the process that allows me to do that, but I think that the very nature of building and putting together different business models, and the financial diversity that comes along with them, will probably mean that I, or any other entrepreneur for that matter, will never be able to do so. Every business set-up is different.

I’d love to hear what you guys think on this subject. Remember, the reason why the VBL Community is growing so quickly is because we share our thoughts for a more mobile entrepreneurial lifestyle with each other. Nobody has a monopoly on good ideas… Share. Thanks.

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