We’ve all seen businesses that make us say, “I wish I thought of that.” The truth is, in many cases, it’s entirely possible you could have. If you invest the time and energy, that is.
Below we explore some easy techniques for igniting your own spark of inspiration, and making your business idea the envy of the competition.
As a first port of call, examine your current situation for innovation opportunities.
Grab a piece of paper and list all the things you do well. For example, this could include being good with people, organisation, etc. Remember, there are no wrong answers, but be honest. Then list all the areas where you can improve (e.g. accounting, computers, marketing, etc.). It’ll help you get a clear picture of what you can do yourself and what you’ll need help with.
Once you’ve got this list, give yourself time to be creative. A study by Adobe found that 80% of respondents saw creativity as the key to business success, yet only spent a third of their time being creative. Set aside a specific time each day to think about ideas.
And record everything. Keep a book with you at all times which is dedicated to your ideas. You can never be sure when an idea will strike, but you should always be ready when it does.
When you have an idea, write it down regardless of how good, bad or ridiculous you think it is. Often there’s something valuable in it, even if it takes time to reveal itself. Writing things down also allows your mind to declutter and focus on new ideas.
It’s also important to mix up your routine. Work hard on your ideas for the full length of your session. Then try and forget about it. Go for a swim, take a nap or a long walk, and reboot your mind.
“Just think about it, deeply, and then forget it. An idea will jump up in your face” These are the words of Mad Men’s legendary advertising man, Don Draper. He may be fictional but the process really works.
Focus Your Attention
It’s good to begin by focusing your attention on specific areas, then expanding your scope as ideas start to flow more freely and branch off each other.
One way to do this is to list products which would make various parts of your personal life easier (e.g. a robotic dog walker). Then do the same for your business life (e.g. accounting software that categorises all finances and emails suppliers for you).
A lot of people never seek inspiration because they’re under the impression they have to reinvent the wheel. In truth, all you have to do is find something wrong with the wheel and find a way to do it better.
When Reed Hastings got a $40 fine for returning his DVDs late, he thought there had to be a better way to watch movies. In time, he created a standard-fee subscription service which allowed customers to use the service as much as they wanted, similar to a gym membership. Today, Netflix has a revenue over US $6.78 billion.
Absorb Everything and Work Hard
You’re far likelier to have that next big idea if you’re always looking for it. The best entrepreneurs have a never-ending thirst for knowledge. If you’re always learning, you’re always looking for inspiration.
Seek as much information as you can and challenge all preconceived conceptions. Trawl the internet for social media, industry publications and business blogs that discuss current trends and future technologies. There might be an emerging technology which can be applied to one of your ideas and benefit both businesses.
Ask for advice and never stop asking questions. Attend industry conferences and networking events. You may also want to enlist the services of a trusted business advisor to ensure you’re focusing your attention in the right areas.
You should also look inside your business. The best ideas can be inside anyone’s mind, so foster a culture of innovation in your business. Use surveys and give your employees a safe and positive space to share ideas in dedicated business inspiration sessions.
Remember, it’s not an easy or immediate process, but if you give it the time, your next piece of business inspiration may be just around the corner.