Does your business have a “parking lot” for ideas? If not, you might want to consider building one. The name’s a little funny, but a business idea parking lot is exactly what it sounds like. It’s a place where you can temporarily “park” ideas that you want to come back to later.
A parking lot allows you to keep thinking of new business ideas without the stress of feeling like you need to implement them all at once. It also gives you fodder for your monthly or quarterly business planning sessions. You can go through the parking lot ideas and decide which ones (if any) you want to start working on.
So how do you create a parking lot for your ideas? Which ideas you should park there? Read on to find out — and learn what to do when you’re ready to drive an idea out into your business.
Top benefits of a business idea parking lot
Creating a business idea parking lot offers several benefits for you and your team members:
- You can avoid losing those ideas that come up in brainstorming sessions, team meetings, or at 3 a.m. when you can’t sleep.
- You can maintain focus on your current business operations and objectives without getting sidetracked by a shiny new idea.
- Your team members can feel comfortable contributing new ideas because they know you’ll save those ideas in the parking lot to review later.
- When you’re ready to develop new offers or create a growth strategy, you can go right to the parking lot from inspiration instead of starting from scratch.
A parking lot can be useful for most business owners. But it’s especially helpful if you feel like you’re constantly distracted by new possibilities or always coming up with ideas that could be useful down the road. When those “sometime in the future ideas” come up, park them in the lot so you can focus on what’s going on right now. Then, you can come back to them during your next planning session.
How should you save those ideas? Choose whichever method works best for you. Maybe you like writing by hand in a specific notebook. Or you could create a dedicated folder in your computer’s file manager. If prefer something more visual, you could draw a mind map or a chart. You could even use colorful sticky notes if that’s your thing — just park them in a dedicated folder where they won’t get lost.
Which ideas should go into the parking lot?
So, how do you know which ideas to put in your parking lot? Basically, it’s any idea that you can’t implement (for whatever reason) but that you want the chance to revisit in the future.
In other words, ideas that …
- You can’t afford right now
- You don’t have time for
- Don’t fit this season in your business
- You aren’t sure how to implement
- Require more capacity or resources than you have
- Are intriguing, but not worth pursuing at the moment
These ideas can come from anywhere, like a formal brainstorming session with your team members or client survey results. But don’t discount “unofficial” ideas either. You might come up with the best thing for your business when you’re having a casual conversation, reading something, or just running your day-to-day operations.
Reviewing your parking lot ideas
How often should you review your parking lot? The answer depends on the specifics of your business. If your business follows a fairly consistent model and doesn’t change often, a quarterly or annual review might be enough.
However, if you’re in a more fast-paced industry, it might be different. If you’re constantly having to adapt to market changes and client trends, you might want to review your parking lot every month.
During your review, take a look at all the ideas and evaluate them. Look for options that fit your current business model or would contribute to one of your goals. Maybe there’s an idea that aligns with the feedback you’re seeing from your clients.
Think about all the ideas objectively, and see if it’s the right time to take action on any of them. If not, that’s OK. Just come back to the parking lot during the next review.
Driving an idea out of the lot
But let’s say you’ve reviewed your parking lot and found an idea you’re ready to implement. What’s the next step? Take a look at each aspect of your business to make sure you’re ready to support the new idea. That means making sure you have an effective, efficient tech stack and enough capacity in your team.
It’s also important to evaluate your current operations. Will this new idea require any significant changes? Do you have the resources to support those shifts? If so, how will you go about making those modifications? Don’t forget to solicit input from your team to make sure everyone is on board with the plans you’re making.
Once you’ve figured out how to implement the idea, it’s time to document it. Create new standard operating procedures (or update your existing ones) to reflect the changes that you’ve made. And then, move forward with confidence, knowing that you’re moving your business forward strategically.
For many business owners, the hard part isn’t deciding which idea to bring out of the parking lot. It’s figuring out how to implement it effectively. That’s why organization and documentation are so important. If you have well-designed, thoroughly documented operating procedures, it should be fairly straightforward to update them to reflect the changes.
Not sure whether your operations are well-organized? Feeling overwhelmed by the idea of writing SOPs from scratch?
I’ve got comprehensive, done-for-you templates to make things easier. If you want to streamline your daily operations with better project management, grab my Getting Started in Asana Kit. You can also pick up my SOP Template, which makes creating thorough standard operating procedures quick and easy.