Idea Investigation-5 Questions to Ask to Evaluate Your Ideas | Ronnie Walter | Skillshare

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Idea Investigation-5 Questions to Ask to Evaluate Your Ideas

teacher avatar Ronnie Walter, Artist, Writer, Artist's Life Coach

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

    • 1.

      Idea Investigation-Welcome!


    • 2.

      Idea Investigation-Question One


    • 3.

      Idea Investigation-Question Two


    • 4.

      Idea Investigation-Question Three


    • 5.

      Idea Investigation-Question Four


    • 6.

      Idea Investigation-Question Five


    • 7.

      Idea Investigation-Answers


    • 8.

      Idea Investigation-Thoughts from Ronnie


    • 9.

      Idea Investigation-Project


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About This Class

Creatives are naturally curious. Curiosity is embedded in our viewpoints, our hearts and the paths we have chosen to take to bring our work to the world.

And being part of the Naturally Curious class has its ups and downs. Let’s talk about ideas for now.

We have a lot of them!

Ideas are coming at us all the time, not just from within but from our loved ones who mean well, social media, regular media and apparently casual observers have ideas for us as well!

But we only have so many hours in a day or years in a career—so we want to know which one of them is the RIGHT one to pursue! (and let’s be quick about it, right?)

Here are some things I know for sure:

  • You are a professional or aspiring creative; a writer, teacher, artist, or crafter.
  • You generate a lot of ideas.
  • You need and want to grow your income therefore you have a certain level of anxiety (like all. the. time.)
  • And you figure, “well, if I just come up with more ideas, I’ll figure this whole thing out”, right?

In this short class, I will walk you through the 5 questions (and 4 answers) that I have developed over the years to develop my licensed art collections, my best-selling books and to help my coaching clients who just want to move their creative ideas further out into the world.

I’m sharing it because I don’t want you to try and follow through with every single thing that seems like a possibility—or worse, give up your dreams completely. A balanced life is a beautiful thing and I want you to have enough time in your life to relax, recharge, have a happy family while you pursue your ideas.

The two handouts are here to help you quickly assess the ideas that make sense to follow and the ones that you can leave behind— at least for now. After you’ve gone through the short lessons, let me know if you have any questions. If you’ve taken any of my other classes, you know that I try to answer as quickly and thoroughly as possible.



Meet Your Teacher

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Ronnie Walter

Artist, Writer, Artist's Life Coach


Hi! I'm Ronnie Walter. I'm an artist, author and coach for creatives. I license my work on all kinds of cool products like greeting cards, fabric, giftware, books, plus 17 (and counting) coloring books for adults.

I am frequently caffeinated.

I love what I do and I particularly love teaching and coaching artists to help them move further on their journey no matter where they are! My goal is to help you calm the overwhelm feelings that are bound to come up when you are building your business, discover your unique gifts, and make a game plan where you can actually see progress! I can't wait to add more classes so you can do just that!

And I have a simple guide to Art Licensing you may find helpful as an addition to the information in some of my classes. You can learn ... See full profile

Level: All Levels

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1. Idea Investigation-Welcome!: Hey, I know why you're here. You have a lot of ideas because we creative types generate a lot of ideas. It's part of who we are. We are naturally curious, and in order to have in our business or any kind of creative business, you have to generate ideas. But how do you know which ones were the right ones? Well, here's the thing. I'm running, Walter. I've been a professional artist my entire life, and I have licensed my artwork on hundreds of products over the years. I've written books I teach, and I also paint abstracts. I generate a lot of ideas, and when you're a creative person, part of your job is to generate ideas. But the one thing we never know is Is this the right idea and my going down the right track and, frankly, ideas, air coming at us from everywhere from walking around our world? There's an idea. There's an idea. We get them ourselves. Other people suggest them to us, well meaning people. Most of the time. Maybe it's your boss. Maybe it's people that you work with. It's a client and also apparently complete strangers ideas for us that they think we should pursue and you figure if I just come up with more ideas, then everything will work out. I just have to generate more ideas. But let's face it, not all ideas deserve toe live. And how do you know which ones should? How do you know which ones you should follow down that rabbit hole? How do you know? With a for fair amount confidence that what you're working on is the right thing toe work on because we have our really hard time nailing that down as creative professionals and because I'm a professional artist and know exactly how this feels. I realized many years ago, in order for my creative ideas to find a light in the world is I had to layer on some structure to figure out whether I'm working on the right thing or not. So here's what I've done. I've developed five questions that are going to help you determine whether or not your idea has legs, whether or not it's something that maybe you should put on the shelf for a while or you want to go full bore into this idea. So in this class, we're gonna walk through the five questions I have devised the four answers that air possibilities for you and how you might bring your ideas into the world without constantly second guessing yourself constantly second guessing the idea or tweaking the idea. Stay with me here. It's a short class We're gonna talk about. These five ideas help you get through this material very easily every time you have an idea where you think I think I need to do something about this. Well, these five questions are gonna help you do that. So thank you for being here. And I can't wait to see your ideas out into the world. Thanks. 2. Idea Investigation-Question One: Okay, so here's question number one. Does your idea align with your values? Now this on a be crystal clear to you when you ask yourself, you have this idea. You think it's really cool. Does this really align with your values? It's generally a binary question. It's yes or it's no. Usually it's not too mushy in between there. If you are uncomfortable with this idea that it doesn't sit right with your heart or you feel like it just is not right for you. Cool idea. Not right for me than that is a yes or no answer. That is the easiest answer of all of the five questions for you. Does this align with my personal values? And sometimes because life doesn't always completely binary, sometimes you have to look at it and say OK at the start. It doesn't it doesn't feel like it. It aligns with my values, but maybe if I do a couple things to it, I can feel better about it. But if you have to really manipulate something into feeling good about it, then you should probably leave it on the shelf. It might be there might be a seed there for later on. But if your gut reaction is no, this does not align, then move on, then just move on. It's a beautiful thing, so let's go to question two. 3. Idea Investigation-Question Two: Okay, here's question. Number two, does your idea a line with your current customers? Okay, if you are doing something that you either want to monetize or you want to bring further out into the world if you want to affect change if you want to grow your collector base If you're a painter, do you know who your customers are? And sometimes we're pre revenue. We don't know more customers are yet, but you should have a fairly good idea of who you want to talk to about this. If it is completely outside your circle of influence, you either need to know people that can connect it to those people. But look at who you're talking to fairly early in this equation, if you are just completely like I don't know who I sell that, too, or I want to sell it to everyone. As we know everyone is not a market. You really need to look at that early. Can I reach these people? And, of course, it's always easier to reach the people that you already know the people that you understand their problems. You understand what motivates them. So that's a really big question to ask yourself in the very beginning, Can I reach the people that need this product service idea that I'm working on? It's critical that you know that. So first question. Does it align with my values? Second, do I know anybody that wants this? Can I reach them easily? Now let's talk about the third question. 4. Idea Investigation-Question Three: okay, We're almost halfway there. Question number three is Does this idea make your eye twitch? Because I'm gonna tell you we've all had ideas where you think Oh, my gosh. This is the coolest idea ever. And then you think about the reality of doing whatever this idea is. And you think I don't know if I want to do that for the next month. Two months, the rest of my life. This is your gut check. It's different from your aligning with your values in number one, This is Do I want to do this? Can I see myself in this role? Do I see myself repeating this over and over to make it a success? Can I see myself have enthusiasm for this over the long haul? Because if you don't in your initial reaction is cool. Idea could make a pile of money. But, you know, I don't know if I can do this all the time. Check yourself. That's your gut talking. My husband and I have joked that we have pretty much been in business together since our second date, and that's not that far from the truth. But one of the things that we learned with working with each other is when we were coming to a decision or coming to an idea that we were wanted to pursue or one of us wanted to pursue. That really was a gut check for us. If one of the people in this relationship in this business said, I don't know, it just doesn't feel right to me are I don't see us doing that or that doesn't feel like us or me Then usually it's not something to pursue. So if you are in a partnership or a marriage or any kind of relationship, that you want to do this together, if one of you has that feeling, you both need to honor that come like deciding to have a baby. No or yes, don't have to be, too yes, anyway, we're not talking about having Children here. We're talking about bringing your ideas out into the world, but you really need to know that straight out of the chute you feel like this is something that you could do for a while. And really be honest with yourself about that. No matter how cool and idea something is. If it doesn't sit well, with you or you don't see yourself in that role. Put it on the show, put it on the shelf. And now we're gonna move to question number four, which is one of my favorite questions of these five CIA there. 5. Idea Investigation-Question Four: all right, requesting number four. This is a really super important question. I mean, really, all of them are super important, but this one has to do with how you're going toe live your life. What do you have to give up in order to do this thing? Life is a series of trade offs. We all get 24 hours in a day. We all get seven days in a week. How we parcel that out is really important. We need to take care of ourselves. We need to take care of the other people in our life. And we need to keep a roof over our head. How those things happen. It's like a giant puzzle. And when you are plugging in the different parts of your puzzle, think about that. You wanna have time to do a good job with your family. You want to make healthy food. You want to spend time with your significant other. You want to make sure that you have time for the things that you love, being in nature, traveling whatever that is, and you want to be able to make a living that is meaningful to you and brings money into your little family. So when you have an idea that you want to bring into the world, you have to look at your own world to see where that is going to fit. Something has to trade in order for you to do that. Now, sometimes it's super easy, you say? Well, you know, cast in a long time, watch a Netflix so I could probably give that up in order to put this into my life or their parts of your life that aren't satisfying to you. And you're happy to give up. Maybe you've been volunteering for something that's no longer satisfying or meaningful to you so you can take that away. Which means your idea can move forward because you have time in space to do that. This is why this is so important. Stress is really hard on a body. Okay, we all have stress your Children are young or you're trying to figure out how to do this thing. Your bring your passion to the world. That's kind of a stressful thing. The world in which we live sometimes feels a little sideways, and so we always have some sort of low grade stress No one is walking around stress free in this world as much as we would love that. So for the most part, we manage that on day to day basis. So here's my public service announcement. Bats dress is when you have your regular everyday stress and then bigger stresses. Come on top of that, a sick child apparent that needs more attention, a job that all of sudden is a little crazy, a loss of a job, little stressors, your own health when they'll start layering on. And then when they layer on and on and on and on. That's the bad stress. That's the kind of stress that gives you, Ah, heart attack. Okay, now nobody wants to hear the word heart attack in their class about creativity and idea generation. But seriously, be very cautious of adding things on top of other things without taking something away. And so this question is really the meat of your whole life and how you want to live your life. You're gonna have to give something up in order to pursue the things that you want. And you can't give up things like sleep eating well, getting a little exercise those things have to be just sort of baseline. You have to maintain your relationships. You have to have time, get a chuckle on people said, you know and myself care. You know, like all the massages officials were all getting, huh? That's hilarious. Anyway, just keep that in mind that if you do this, you're going to have to give something up, and you need to be very clear about that. And you need to be looking at that early on rather than later when you're fully on into this thing and go Oh, my gosh. I haven't talked to my husband six weeks or my mother is really upset because, you know, whatever. You're just exhausted and you're wearing yourself out. You don't want to find that out later. All of this is going to give you a little more stress, But you don't want a layer. Stress and stress on stress again. Heart attack. Okay, final question. Coming right up. Number five Can't wait. See up 6. Idea Investigation-Question Five: Okay, we're here. Question number five. And here it ISS How much time is the learning curve for this idea going to take you? Because there's always a learning Kerr. Alternatively, this question is, what's the launch cycle for bringing this idea out to the world? That this is about time, How much time is going to take for you to get the Sung to the market or into the world? Or what is the learning curve going to be? And are you willing to do that? Is that worth it on the other side for the greater good of this idea? And sometimes you're gonna look at and go? No. If I have to learn an entire new program, or if I have to go back to school or get some sort of certification, maybe that's worth it. Maybe it isn't. Maybe the launch cycle is so long because there's so many things that you have to learn to put it in place that you may find that that's not worth it or it ISS and or it's something that you say. But I want this certification. I want this education, so I'm willing to do this so that on the other side. I'm ready to bring this idea in the world, but only you can know what that's going to take. And often you can't take shortcuts on that route. You have to go through the process in order to get that to the world. But again, that's something to ask yourself before you're fully into this or before you have gone down this giant rabbit hole of this idea to say, Oh my gosh, this is going to take a really long time because I don't know these things now. Alternatively, you can hire those things. If you have the money or you feel like that's worth the investment, it's better to invest in another person or another skill set that someone else has, rather than you learning at all. And so those are the things that you have to weigh in the beginning. But you have to recognize early that there is a learning curb and there might be a launch cycle that is longer than you would anticipate. To get this on the market or to bring it out to the world. Think about that. Okay, so let's move on to how do you answer these five questions 7. Idea Investigation-Answers: Okay. We've just been through the five questions and let's talk about the answers. There's usually a range of answers. Something's air. Really? Obviously yes. No. Little, many things are Moshier and there in the middle. So on one and you have no never know for sure. I know the answer to this. Pay attention to those when you have that immediate No answer. Stick with that. Do not get persuaded into a yes when you have a very hard No. On the other end of that factor, Miss. Oh, my gosh. Yes, of course. Oh, I This is it. This is the thing. This is it when you have answered those five questions because we can say this is it because that's why we're doing the five questions. Because we think this is the greatest idea effort until you started analyzing it with your five questions. But if after those five questions you still say, Oh, yeah, yeah, this is it again. Listen to that. That's that. Yes, yes, yes. Let's go. Those air easy. Then you got the ones in the middle. So a couple of ones in the middle are, you know, maybe, maybe, but not right now that's a cool idea. I like it. I'm capable of doing this. I know what the pitfalls are, but it's not right right now because maybe one of those reasons are the reasons why it's not right for you right now. Maybe you don't have that customer base, and you want to cultivate that more or this time in your life is not the right time to do it. You do have too many obligations. You have too much on your plate. And when you can unhook from some of that stuff, it will be right. So there's the Maybe I think it's a good idea. I like everything that's going on with it, but not right now, an honor that let me give you an example. I have designed and drawn over 20 adult coloring books. That's a lot of artwork. That is a lot of black and white outwork. Now, when you do over 20 coloring books, you end up with over 1000 drawings, which is a lot of drawings. Okay, so I have all this black of my drugs. I'm thinking, So where else can these live? They should have a life beyond the covers of these coloring books and what does that look like? And I have licensed them on to some other coloring products. I have a like cute little ornaments and things like that. I have also licensed them to a machine embroidery company, so you can do tea towels or whatever with those designs. But that's not all the designs, and I still have an enormous amount. And I kept thinking, There's gotta be another alternative for all of this artwork. So I started thinking about embroidery kits like hand embroidery. It's very popular, and I'm thinking, you know, hand embroider is really popular. There's a lot of people that do this and maybe actually put together kids, sir, make a downloadable PdF. And so I'm going through this idea generation of all the ways I could bring this to market . And as I analyse this, I realized two things that came about that that I realized two things that were really an impediment for me to bring that to market. Yes, of course, they could be embroidery kits, but when someone buys them Verdery kit, they expect to see something stitched, which means I have to stitch all these six now I've already drawn them, so I'd have to stitch them all, which I'm capable of doing, or I have to hire someone to stitch them. Which is the cost up front to that? I don't even know how many and border kids I'm going to sell. Okay, you can see where this is going. I'm thinking, OK, that's a ton of work that I'm not sure I'm willing to do. And I don't have enough time in my day to stitch along with everything else said I do. Okay, because I coach and I do our work and right. And unlike, and I'm also gonna stitch embroidery patterns can't do that. The other part of that IHS. What? Oh, the second part of that, with my embroidery kit idea was I don't know, people that embroider. I'm not connected to the needlework crafter, indie crafter tight market. So how do I reach these people? And yeah, I could put a pin Etsy shop ago. Here you go. Here's a bunch of Verdery patterns. If I was willing to stitch them all, But those were two parts of these five questions that I thought No, no, that's not gonna work for me. So it was easy for me to say. Cool idea. Not right now. Not for now. The fourth answer that you might come. Teoh is yes, and I'm pretty sure that it will do what I want it to, dio, while I still need a little more research on some of the aspects of it. So here's what I'm going to tell you about research. For some reason, I think creative people love research. We love to go down some rabbit hole or, you know, one thing leads to another because of our natural curiosity. You know, you start looking at, you know, how do you do abstract painting? Oh, let's go look at de Kooning. A look. Cocooning brought me to Frankenthaler and Oh, my gosh, I never heard of Franz. Climb it. You know how that goes. And so if you thank your at that place where you need more research to get your answers more clear for yourself, put a time limit on how much research you will do. You can say I am going to research for 30 days, and if I haven't come to a very clear, concise answer to this situation, then I'm gonna put it on the shelf, give yourself a an end date to make that decision because we could endlessly research. We've all known people that you say, You know how that idea go on. And they're like, Well, you know, I still need to do more research, and then you see them three years later and you say, Did you ever do anything with that idea? Because it was sounded kind of cool. And they say, You know, I'm still working on it, and I'm trying to figure out if blah, blah, blah, blah, and we've all been there. Oh, my goodness, I have been there. But make sure you put a time limit on that. And when I talked about earlier about. But when you're a creative person, you need to sometimes put structure on top of your creativity. Just give yourself some guide posts or a grid or whatever that's gonna look like to say. I need to meet this time, period and then work it. And then at that time period, decide what you want to do. So there's the hard No. No way. You move Teoh, Maybe, but not right now. Third would be I think this requires more research. But again, put a time limit on that. And then the fourth thing is Oh, yeah, I'm going for it. This is it. I'm moving forward. So those are your answers. So, in the final video, let's just talk about what? If you don't care about your answers, you might come to a place with your answers. Where you go, I don't care. I'm doing it. So let's talk about that a little bit in the next video. 8. Idea Investigation-Thoughts from Ronnie: Okay, We've just gone for the five questions and your four answers to evaluate your idea's. And I just want to say one thing before I have my final thought for you. And that is when you walk yourself through these questions and answers, they then act as a deflector shield for you. And what happens is when you are clear on these points about your idea than any other information that comes in that becomes your deflector shield. Other ideas you can go. No, no, doesn't work. Bouncing it back out into the world. Let someone else do it. But remember that this is a place of security, and this is a place that you can really build the things that you want in your life because you already know how they're going to fit. Here's one more thing that can happen. You answer all your questions and maybe your answers aren't completely positive about this idea. You don't really know the customers and, yeah, my legs kind of full right now, but I want to do this and it might irritate me, but I don't know. I still think it's such a great idea if you don't care and you say I don't care. I'm doing it anyway. You know, you are certainly allowed to do that because I'm not the boss of you. If you decide, don't care. I'm doing it. Then, having gone through the process, you already have some heads up on where you're pitfalls might be. You'll know where you need a little more help, you might say, Yeah, I got to figure out that customer thing, or I'm gonna have to learn some stuff or I'm gonna be You already know that going in. And if your attitude is I'm doing it anyway, I don't care. You've just shown yourself where you're going to need a little more help. A little more attention on your part. But you get to make that decision because you are a grown up human being that can decide those things. I'm so glad you're here. If you need more information about me or if you'd want to work with me further, you can find me at my website at Ronnie walter dot com. And I thank you again for being here. And I can't wait to see your ideas move into the world. Thanks. Bye. 9. Idea Investigation-Project: Hi. I just wanted to go through the handouts really quickly. I think they're an important part of working through your own idea investigation to make sure that you are on the right track. The 1st 1 is a very simple pdf for you to download and print out if you like. And you can fill in each one of the five questions that we went over in the class just quick. Short sentences doesn't have to be a big deal. Just write down your thoughts on these five things. My whole idea is to help you move your ideas forward quickly or to eliminate them quickly so you can get onto the better ones. So just make very short notes. You're gonna be able to tell really quickly whether this is going to work for you or not. And, of course, up in the little corner is where you're going to write down your idea. The second sheet to download is just a very fast mini business plan. This is where you're going to right a little more in depth with your ideas about so you really get your thoughts out there. Then there's a quick to do list What initial steps would you need to take to launch this idea? Just really quick. Bullet points. The second column is your needs. Do you need more space? Do you need some equipment? Do you need a specific software? Just write that down again really fast, and then who can help you? If you don't have all the skills needed to bring this idea forward right down right now, Who you might know that could help you? It might be someone you can hire. It might be someone you have been wanting to partner with and would like to talk to them about it. It might be someone that has more experience than you, and you might want some business advice from them. Or maybe a coach. Or you just want to call a friend for emotional support. That's fine, too, So just fill this out very quickly now. Sometimes you might want to do the many business plan before you do your five questions, but again moved through the material very quickly. And frankly, I just did this with an idea that I had, and I was able to fill out the five questions I was able to go through those questions, I felt really comfortable about the idea. And then I went through a very quick many business plan, and I really understood what it would take to pull together. The idea that I had It's still a good idea, but it ended up for me to be. Maybe it's a good idea, but not for right now. So that was a really good way. And I'm telling you, it took me less than 30 minutes to fill out these two sheets to really get my thoughts down and really understand that idea. And I'm not saying that every idea you have is going to take you 30 minutes to evaluate. But it shouldn't take you very long to do that at all. You should know by using your five questions in your four answers, whether it's something you should go ahead and do those air your little handouts. I suggest you download them as my Aunt Marie would say immediately, if not sooner. And I wish you all the best I mean seriously, if you have any questions for me, make sure you ask in the comments below and thank you again for taking this class by