We’ve all got ideas. Occasionally we even think we have a good idea. However, it’s rare that any of us actually take the time to execute on an idea.
Good ideas are common, but those who are willing to take action and execute those ideas are far more rare. – Will it Fly
One of the reasons many of us fail to execute (or execute well) on an idea is that our good idea isn’t something we’re truly passionate about. Our friends may be succeeding with a similar idea or the big internet celeb we follow made their money selling info products — but while that good idea may be profitable for others, it’s just not something that truly fits in with the core of who we are and the life we want to live.
This is where Pat Flynn’s new book, Will it Fly starts, helping us figure out the life we want to live and whether our idea fits into that life. This is an important first step in the journey of any entrepreneur. Much too often you can talk to someone making $20K a month and learn they actually hate the life they live and the business they’ve built for themselves. This comes from a mismatch in the core of who the person is and the core of their day-to-day in business.
The truth is if you don’t have a passion for what you are doing, your energy will eventually fizzle out. It always does.
One of the most useful exercises Pat walks you through as you ‘design your mission’ is what he calls the Airport Test (yes, much of the book is couched in flight metaphor). The basics of this exercise is to divide a blank sheet of paper into four quadrants and label each quadrant with the four most important parts of your life.
Beneath each of the four headings, you list specific details about what would make your life awesome in that area in five years. For example, if one of your quadrants is labeled family then you may — like me — write down that in five years you’ll be homeschooling your kids and being around for it most of the time while your business earns money without your direct input every day.
Going through this exercise and then later on comparing it to every business idea you have is going to help you cut those ideas that don’t really match up with the life you want to live. Knowing I want to be around for my kids and help with homeschooling most days of the week means I know I need to work myself out of direct web development for clients, since that requires my input every day to earn money.
It also means that while I could build plugins for WordPress I don’t want to deal with support tickets every day as plugins get popular and earn more. So any idea that would be me building another plugin that I have to support regularly is dead in the water no matter how awesome the current need.
After you’ve gone through and thought hard about your ideal life, Will it Fly walks you through finding your business niche and validating your idea in that niche. This validation step is so important.
Many people have a great idea for a course, or book, or product, and figure everyone will just fall in love with it when it launches. They may assume the day after the launch they’ll have six figures in sales and be on their way to more success.
Yet in some cases (perhaps more than we like to admit), a product gets launched into obscurity, with few sales. This reality grates on the business person the day after launch — and for many more days after. I’ve experienced this with a course I launched a few years back which no one bought at all.
Instead of working away in secret, Will it Fly prescribes a plan to find people with a need you can fill and then build a relationship of trust with them. Then you get them to “raise their hand” expressing interest for the product and you ask for a sale before you’ve even built the product in anything more than very rough form. When you ask for the sale you literally ask them for money for something that doesn’t exist.
What someone says they’re going to do, and what they actually end up doing can be completely different, so you need more than just words in order to count on them.
Will it Fly contends (and I agree) that the only way you can truly know if someone would pay for a product is by asking them to pay for it and and taking their money. Any interest before that is simply theoretical and you shouldn’t count on them as a customer when you ask for a portion of their earnings in exchange for the value you feel you’re providing.
In my opinion, the most insightful part of Will it Fly is the exercise to define your ideal life but its usefulness will really come down to how much effort you put into it. If you sit with the work for a few days and revise the sheet a few times then it’s going to be worth it.
If you simply put two minutes into the exercise but never reference it again it’s still going to be decent but it won’t achieve the goals of the book. It won’t help you to have a business that truly matches with your life if you never invest in the work and reference it with every new business idea.
All the work that Will it Fly asks you to do around validating your idea is also good but feels like it’s more geared towards internet marketers building a niche site, or info product as a tendril of their income stream. This makes sense since this strategy is exactly how the author initially built his business and how he still makes a decent amount of income monthly. I’m not saying that the formula isn’t good for other businesses, just that all the examples in the book are geared towards the niche site marketer.
If you’re not a niche site marketer reading the book will still be good — you’ll just have to put a bit of time into adapting the steps to validate your idea to your needs. It’s not an off-the-shelf validation formula, though anything purporting to be that is more likely snake oil.
So yes, I think the book is worth your time especially if you truly put the time in to the Airport Test exercise and then reference it moving forward as you build your business.