To start or continually grow a business, you'll need to keep finding inspiration. Here are six ways you might find it.
The perception of entrepreneurs involves a tireless work ethic and a crackling, innovative brain. If you're an entrepreneur, you'll know that this isn't always the case. While you may push yourself to work hard every day, you'll invariably hit that wall where you just can't seem to conjure up any new ideas.
Of course, without innovation and forward thinking, no business can succeed. All successful entrepreneurs know this, and that is why they're constantly on the search for the next big idea that will push their business over the top.
Unfortunately, innovative ideas are definitely not a dime a dozen. While the Phil Knights and Elon Musks of the world always seem to be on the cutting edge of innovation, the truth is that every entrepreneur is in need of some inspiration now and again.
Inspiration, as we know, cannot be manufactured. If there were some well that we could go to endlessly for inspiration, we would all be millionaire business owners by now. Fortunately, though, there are a few places you can look to find inspiration consistently. None of them involve someone spelling out your future plans for you, but each can spark something in your mind that could lead to your next big break.
1. Look closely at what bothers you.
If you're looking for a new business idea but coming up empty, try flipping the script. Rather than thinking about the things you love and how to incorporate them into a business, think about the things that bother you. Take note of your daily frustrations and pet peeves, and then find a way to fix them.
This way of thinking brought us electricity (gas-lit lamps were too much of a hassle to light), automobiles (horses were too slow and pooped too much), and even the device you're reading this article on right now (sending messages via telegram or carrier pigeon wasn't nearly quick enough). Solving a problem could turn out to be much more inspirational than inventing a new product.
2. Check out what others have done.
Sometimes, the best way to think of a new idea is to not think of anything new at all. This isn't to suggest that plagiarizing is okay or that you should be violating intellectual property law, but rather that you should take advantage of ideas that already work and find innovative ways to apply them to your company.
Take, for example, Fender.Cars, which is essentially Tinder for auto buying. The company realized that consumers approach the auto-buying process in much the same way as they would approach finding someone to ask on a date, so it took that same model and allowed people to swipe left or right on cars they would be interested in buying. By taking an existing idea, the company found a new way to present its product.
3. Think about the future.
The gift of foresight isn't something that everybody has, but trying to anticipate a future need could take your business to the next level. It may result in some scoffs at first, but ideas like Tesla or UberEATS don't come about from following the crowd.
4. Seek expansion.
While it isn't always wise to stray from what works, innovation and branching out your reach can pay great dividends. If you don't believe that, ask online book retailer Jeff Bezos. Of course, Bezos' company, Amazon, has moved so far past its initial iteration that it now owns Whole Foods.
If you feel that your business hasn't reached its potential, you're right. As long as you play your cards right, you can find ways to slowly expand the reach of your company into similar industries. If you're lucky (and really good at what you do), you might just end up expanding further than you ever thought possible.
5. Stop looking at your phone.
When musician Ed Sheeran was looking for inspiration for his next album, he tossed his phone and flew off to Iceland. While that may be a bit drastic for your life, the principle here is certainly valid.
Often, our intellectual process is stymied by the hustle and bustle of daily life. If your day is occupied by traffic, phone calls and meetings, it's no surprise that you're having a hard time thinking of new ideas. Try this: The second you finish reading this article, close your laptop, turn off your phone, and take a walk.
6. Keep 'grinding.'
While turning off is a good idea from time to time, nothing should dissuade you from your pursuit of new ideas and innovation. The second you become complacent, your potential for inspiration drops considerably.
The truth of the matter is that very few great ideas were found while on a Netflix binge. If you're serious about entrepreneurship, you'll have to be working when others aren't. This is what will allow you to find inspiration where others don't.