You have an idea for a business. Now what?

Here at IdeaMensch, we’re officially obsessed with that next phase–the one that involves becoming your own Victor Frankenstein and bringing an idea to life. Heck, we’re even on a 48-state road trip to put on events dedicated to all the good stuff that happens in between the concept stage and company launch. (Stay tuned for our documentary about it.)

Some people use a combination of the approaches below; others stick to just one method. Regardless of your current process, you’ll want to check out the following 20 critical steps for bringing a concept to fruition.

1. Focus

“When bringing ideas to life, I try to focus on the needs of myself, my pets and my customers,” says Lisa Illman, president and founder of Kritter Kommunity. “This way I am filling a need and not just creating things. Bringing creative innovation together with a solution to a problem are the ingredients driving Kritter Kommunity and will be as we continue to grow.”

2. Create the space

“I invite [ideas] in and talk with them,” says author Kelley Harrell. “In my shamanic work, I travel out of my body to visit destinations in the spirit realm. I meet characters there, books, themselves, projects, future liaisons, plots, landscapes, scenes. I imagine going to the place that feels most comfortable and ask the presence of my idea to meet me there. I ask what it needs from me, and I state what I need from it. We meet somewhere in the middle and allow our life forces to merge. Meeting concepts and constructs this way enables me to feel them. Once something becomes perceivable at a feeling level for me, it becomes intuition. When it becomes intuitive, it’s as good as done.”

3. Do your research

“It begins with research,” says Matthew Kenney, president of Kenney College. “Before bringing a product or service to market, we need to have the confidence to know there is a likely customer waiting for us upon our completion of [the product or service]. Experience and intuition are important also, but research findings give me a lot of confidence.”

4. Simplify

“My way of ‘breathing life’ into an idea is to first simplify it so that people can understand it,” says author Roy Osing. “’Never try to impress yourself with your own words!’ is my mantra, and it has always worked for any audience I have been in front of.”

5. Use images

“[I bring ideas to life] with pretty pictures,” says Peter Leeds, principal at Gabardine. “No, really. Even though I come from the copy side, I’ve found, over the years, that there’s enormous value in putting together a few simple sketches of what the hell I’m talking about. It gets heads nodding, and better yet, brains understanding, so you can have more meaningful discussions. (I know, what a concept!) Read more about it here.”

6. Embrace old-school methods

“Our team really does things the old-fashioned way, with a whiteboard and dry-erase markers,” says Amos Winbush, CEO of Cybersynchs. “We collaborate and discuss all ideas together. After this, we eye some key companies we may potentially partner with to make these ideas happen. For us, it’s all about companies who are either doing well or aren’t doing so well that can use a revenue streak. We select the company, schedule a meeting, sketch out what the relationship could look like and determine whether or not it will make for a great fit. If so, we start integrating our solutions into the back end.”

7. Share

“[I bring ideas to life] by sharing them with my team and inner circle, by seeking feedback and refinement, and by working late,” says Scott Belsky, founder of Behance.

8. Develop an action plan

“I bring ideas to life by setting out an action plan that helps translate the idea into something tangible,” says Nick Haas, founder of Haastyle. “I often start by bouncing these ideas off of many people to gauge reactions, get input, and step outside my own head. Then I start to plan out their execution.”

9. Experiment

“I run my businesses as experiments,” says Sean Harper, co-founder and CEO of FeeFighters. “I figure out what I would need to know to make the business a success. For example, how many potential customers are there? What will my conversion rate be? How much will it cost to attract traffic? Then I figure out the cheapest/quickest way to figure out each of those unknowns and then run the experiment fast.”

10. Get help

“I’ll be honest, I can’t code or design a website, but that has never stopped me,” says Giancarlo Massaro, founder of AnyLuckyDay. “Since I was 14, I have been turning my ideas into realities. I come up with an idea, plan it out, hire someone to create it for me, and then take over. From there, the sky is the limit.”

11. Test

“I test ideas on my blog and on Twitter,” says author David Meerman Scott. “If the idea generates excitement with many people commenting or tweeting, then I know I have something interesting to share in future speeches or books.”

12. Work hard and accept failure

“You have to be a ‘worker bee,’” says Christine Clifford, founder of Divorcing Divas. “In a two-hour coffee meeting with a total stranger, we came up with the idea for Divorcing Divas. By the time we left each other, we had chosen a date for our first event, sketched out our agenda and had chosen our name, tagline and slogan. I went home, Googled ‘Divorcing Divas,’ and discovered the domain was owned by a male attorney in New Jersey. So I immediately purchased the .net, .org, .info, etc. I contacted my patent attorney and discovered that the trademark had never been purchased. So, I bought that immediately. Within one week, I had lined up nine speakers, chosen a venue for our event, designed a logo, ordered stationery and business cards, hired a web designer and put together a committee.”

“The first steps to true startup success are often scattered,” says Brett Neese, founder of Just Run, in his most recent post for IdeaMensch. “The best way to learn how to build a startup isn’t just to ‘build a startup.’ The best way to learn how to build a startup is to fail at building a startup—and to take what didn’t work and learn from it and use that invaluable knowledge to build something else that might work.”

13. Be passionate, persistent and naive

“[To bring an idea to life, you need] passion,” says Ben Munoz, founder of BensFriends.org. “If you’re not fully committed, you’ll never last through the inevitable dips. You also need persistence… and persistence is more about focusing on just getting the little things done. Lastly, you need naivety; it’s best not to think about how hard something is going to be, otherwise you may never start.”

14. Set goals and milestones

“[I bring ideas to life] by framing every project in terms of goals and milestones,” says Gabriel Shaoolian, founder of Blue Fountain Media. “Clients often come in with a vague idea of what they’re looking to accomplish online. We take those ideas and help the client focus on specific business goals (more clients, more traffic, more revenues). By establishing goals and milestones from the outset of your project, then you can make sure that every step taken along the way will be taken with those goal and milestones in mind.”

15. Keep a notebook

“I keep a notebook of everything, and I separate big ideas from tactical to-do list items,” says Laurence Lafforgue, founder of ArtWeLove. “I prioritize based on the most urgent. And I surround myself with people more talented than me in areas where I need help.”

16. Stay active and pay attention

“Some of my best ideas come when I am working out,” says Frank Napolitano, CEO of GlobalFit. “I am able to clear my mind and focus. I’ll jot down a quick note and then share those thoughts with my colleagues for feedback. I also pay close attention to the news and social media channels. Developing ideas based off of emerging trends keeps me current, sometimes enabling me to accurately predict the next big move within my industry.”

17. Time yourself

“Staying on task and maintaining efficiency is sometimes challenging when you don’t have a boss breathing down your neck,” says Corinne Dillon, Founder of Discover Mandarin. “I use a stopwatch to time myself when I’m working so I get a real idea of how much I’m actually getting done—and how much I’m getting up for a drink or chatting with my teachers.”

18. Get out of your head

“There are no secrets to bringing ideas to life,” says author Jonathan Fields. “Just get out of your head and take action in the tangible world. Commit to a single action that moves an idea forward in a material, measurable way every day.”

19. Disassociate yourself

“First, throw ideas out all the time, even if you think they are silly,” says Josh Zabar, chief samurai of the Summit Series. “Second, disassociate yourself from the idea. You’ll have a much easier time tossing ideas out in the future if you remove any personal anguish that might be caused by others cutting it down.”

20. Shut up

“I just do things,” says Molly Crabapple, founder of Dr. Sketchy’s Anti-Art School. “The time one spends talking about a project is better spent doing that project.”

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