I divide my paper into two columns.
On one column is the list of ideas. On the other column is the list of “FIRST STEPS”. Remember, only the first step. Because you have no idea where that first step will take you.
Imagine you are driving 100 miles to your home late at night. You turn on your headlights so you can see in front of you. All you can see is about 30 feet in front of you but you know if you have the lights on the entire time, you’ll make it home safely, 100 miles away.
Activating the idea machine is how you turn the lights on so you can get home.
One of my favorite examples: Richard Branson didn’t like the service on some airline he was flying. So he had an idea: I’m going to start a new airline. How the heck can a magazine publisher start an airline from scratch with no money?
His first step. He called Boeing to see if they had an airplane he could lease.
No idea is so big you can’t take the first step. If the first step seems to hard, make it simpler.
A real life example: In 2006 I had ten ideas for websites I wanted to build. I knew how to program but didn’t want to. So my first step was to find a site like Elance and then put the spec up and find programmers in India who could make the websites for me. One of them I paid $2000 to develop and sold for $10,000,000 9 months later. (this is not bragging – I went dead broke about 2 years after that).