Often, the hardest part about starting a business is coming up with the right idea in the first place. Otherwise, everyone would be starting their own business and we’d all be entrepreneurs (now there’s an idea we like!).
Fortunately, coming up with good ideas isn’t as hard as you might think. In fact, sometimes it’s just a matter of seeing the world a bit differently. To kick your ideation process into high gear, try these five strategies.
There’s nothing like exposing yourself to different countries, languages and cultures to change your perspective on the world. In fact, according to Achievers, 83% of Millennials ranked travel rewards as the number one reward that they would want most from an employer. Interacting with people outside the U.S. can help you see the world in ways you’ve never seen before.
One of the quickest ways to run out of ideas is to stop learning. One of the best ways to get new ones is to take a class in something you’ve never studied before. The key is taking a class outside your area of expertise. If you’re in marketing, take a class in programming. If you’re an accountant, take a class in customer service. Anything that gets you out of your normal way of doing and seeing things.
3. Look for patterns, make connections
Good ideas often come from just looking at what already exists in the world and putting things together in new and different ways. (Steve Jobs was a master at this, and look what he built!) A great way to innovate is to look for ways to take what others are already doing and adapt it to your way of doing business.
4. Think outside the goggles
Sales had gone flat for a $2 billion company that made safety goggles for the workplace. Their goggles were strong and durable, but ugly and uncomfortable to wear. The company decided to research the fashion industry to come up with ideas on how to improve their goggles. In doing so, they learned that safety goggle wearers want to look good and feel comfortable as well as protect their eyes. Based on this new data, the company created a new line of “fashion” safety goggles, and sales soared. Moral of the story: looking beyond your business/industry can be a great source of new ideas.
5. Ditch the technology.
This may sound strange coming from a technology company like Ideator, but one good way to spark new ideas is to get away from your technology. Once a month, turn off your cell phone and mobile devices for a while and just let your mind wander. Take off your shoes and walk barefoot in the grass. Sit quietly under a shady tree and just listen to the sounds. You’ll be amazed at how tuning out the daily barrage of distractions can unleash the flow of ideas inside you.
Most of all, remember that good ideas don’t come into the world fully developed. It takes a lot of hard work to turn them into a viable business or product.