You’ve got an idea you want to put into action – an idea for a business, a mission to become famous, or a vision of making a living doing something you love.

But… it’s BIG. Too big.

It requires you to quit your job. Or it needs a lot of money. Or a whole team of people. Or premises. Or a huge technical build. Or it simply requires masses of time and energy (which you don’t have).

So what do you do?

Has your answer till now been to put your idea back in a drawer and get on with your life? Then you have got to start doing something different. There are far too many people who have good ideas fading away somewhere at the back at their mind (while someone else has the same idea and goes and makes a success of it).

There’s nothing wrong with having big ideas – a million dollar business, a best-selling book, a national movement, or simply making a full-time living from something you love. It’s a useful skill to be able to take an idea and envision exactly how huge it could become. But… you also need be to able to do the opposite and chunk it down into manageable projects, starting with one you can begin right now.

Sure, you can go ‘big bang’ on your idea; go hell for leather and enlist all the people you need, write a business plan and go search for funding. If that’s a style of operating that’s worked for you successfully in the past, and you’re comfortable with the risk involved, it may be right for you.

For the rest of us, the thought of biting it all off in one chunk is overwhelming – and unnecessarily risky. And that’s not helpful if it means we end up doing nothing.

Honey, I shrunk my idea

You don’t have to give up on your grand vision of a big business, national fame, or the most common desire – finding a way of making a great income from something you love doing. You can start small, test it out, improve it, then grow it and scale it towards your original vision.

It just requires you to be willing to think like a player, not a worker. It means being willing to play it out one step at a time – even if you don’t know exactly where it will take you and you can’t yet see how it can make you a full-time income. You’d be surprised how many successful ideas and businesses started out like this! (It’s a lot of fun too)

Take a tip from Mark Zuckerberg

Don’t imagine that doing a 30-day project is somehow too inauspicious a start to amount to anything significant. Mark Zuckerberg developed the first version of Facebook in just 30 days at the start of 2004 in the time set aside for study before taking his finals.

And it wasn’t part of a grand plan to take over the world or become a billionaire. He has said himself, ‘We didn’t actually care about it being a business early on’.

Here’s how to do it:

  1. Design a 30 day ‘Play Project’ that immerses you in making your idea happen (or at least some part of it).
  2. Since you’re not trying to create your whole vision yet but just a part of it, choose the project to be centred on the bit that’s most important. If you want to be a public speaker, go speak, don’t spend the first 30 days building a website for your future speaking career.
  3. Make sure the project produces something you can share – some tangible result, not just 30 days of sitting and googling!
  4. Set a deadline in 30 days’ time to share your result with others – show it to your friends, put it on your blog, tweet or facebook it. Share photos, recordings, videos on youtube. Write about the experience on a blog.
  5. Start doing it – do a little every day if you’re fitting it around your current work, don’t wait for hours of free time to magically open up in your diary
  6. When you complete it, look at how you could build on it to take it further. If it didn’t work out the way you’d hoped, adjust your approach to give you more of the results you want and launch your next Play Project. Each one can build on the results of the last and at the end of every one, you’ll have something real to show for it – the kind of stuff that opens doors to even bigger opportunities.

What will you do?

What do you want to do? Here are some example play projects to help make it happen.

  • Want to use your skills to help people? Call your friends and find one person who would be willing to be your test client for free (or at a reduced price) in exchange for a testimonial. Then ask them for a referral to others who could hire you. That’s how Saskia Nelson started her dating profile photography business HeySaturday, winning her first paying client in less than 30 days. (Read the full story in my book Screw Work Break Free)
  • Want to write a book? Write the outline and one chapter. Or… start writing about your topic on a blog. If you want to be a novelist, you might start with a short story. Send it to some friendly readers.
  • Want to be a public speaker? Go to Toastmasters public speaking meetings, learn some of the basics and set a deadline to give your first talk of 5-10 minutes at one of the meetings.
  • Want to start a business in a new area? If you can curate the latest news and expert thinking on your topic area in a blog or on LinkedIn Pulse, you can start to attract followers and make connections while you’re still learning. Perhaps interview people, explore possible solutions to the problems in your field.
  • Got a grand website idea? If it’s based around content you’re creating, create the site first in WordPress. If it’s more about community, start with just a group on Facebook. Look for an existing solution you can use to prove interest in your idea before investing too much. Wolfgang Wild started his blog of remarkable historical photos called Retronaut using the free WordPress system and ended up with a site getting 200,000 hits a day and an exclusive licensing deal with
  • If you want to launch a national campaign or change the world, create a Facebook group for your cause and then create an event that people can take part in to build a buzz. Jody Day started a blog called Gateway Women to support childless women like herself and within 30 days it was already on its way to becoming the international movement it is now – with a global reach of 2 million people and a bestselling book to support it. (The full story is in my book)

What could you do in 30 days to bring your idea to life?

Leave a comment and let me know. 


To read more about using this approach, download a free chapter of Screw Work Break Free.