You’re sat at your desk or out for a run – and you get a crazy idea. It’s fresh, it’s new…your competitors haven’t done it and a quick web search tells you that no one else has thought of it either. This is golden, unique; for a fleeting second, you imagine people applauding you in the office. The problem is that the idea is a little out there; you could possibly be laughed out of the building with a flushed face. Consequently you’re not sure whether to even share it with anyone.

You should, though; some of the most insane laughable-to-begin-with ideas have turned out to be real money makers. Bernard and Murray Spain for example, essentially created the yellow cute grinning ‘smiley’ in the 1970’s, as well as the (now renowned) “Have a nice day” line…an idea which may have seemed a little ridiculous at the time. Their smiley led to Dollar Express stores in the 1980’s where they continued to sell the smiley. A chain store which they sold for $500 million in 2000.

If you think your idea has potential, it is worth a solid pitch to your boss or business partner. Preparation is key though, especially if you want to be taken seriously and to give your idea the basing and justification it deserves. Follow these steps before the proposal.

Plan Your Time

It may be a great idea, but don’t allow it to take away massively from what you’re supposed to be working on; the last thing you want is to make it obvious that the pitch planning has made demands on your time away from the work you’re getting paid for. It may be a potentially big money maker, but at the moment it’s just an idea. If it means a little bit of planning in your lunch hour or at home, so be it.

Do Your Research

You may have researched your competitors, but the biggest research needed is whether your idea is actually viable. Is it possible? How will it work and what will be the impact or use for it within your company? What costs are involved? Not only is this research valuable to ascertain that your pitch is workable, it also prepares you for questions by your manager or team mates; the last thing you want is lots of questions you can’t answer.

Get A Team Mate Involved

If the research has proved useful and the idea is looking fruitful, discuss it with a close team mate; someone you can trust. Tell them all about it and ask for their feedback. How do they feel? What are its strengths and weaknesses? Pitching to them will allow you to gauge how your manager or other work members are going to think about your idea. Ask for their honest and critical feedback.

Plan It

With research done and feedback obtained, begin to plan a structured pitch. The plan will show how much thought and attention has been put into the project. As per the above point, ensure you think about all of the questions people may ask and try to cover most possibilities. Think about who you’re pitching to; if it’s your boss, think about how they work – do they like graphs? Lots of data? Prepare your material in a way that will please their style. When everything is ready, ask the parties who will be involved for a suitable meeting time. If there are going to be a few people participating, try to allow it to include someone positive who will vouch for you. It may be your close colleague already in on the pitch, or someone who you know is a positive force in meetings.

Have a Backup

Prior to the big pitch, have a backup plan at the ready. It might be a side step to the main plan, or one that is slightly modified. If the main idea isn’t initially accepted, a backup plan will be useful in this instance.

The next step: the pitch. Now it’s down to you. Good luck!