Business Ideas 101
Posted on 02 December 2015
Don’t worry about coming up with great ideas. Be happy to come up with bad ones, too.
Ideas are cheap. That means they are free to manufacture. They just pop into your head. You can work on them infinitely like wet clay, or you can toss them into your mental garbage can immediately. They happen all the time no matter what you’re doing, but maybe you’re just not noticing because you call them chatter or daydreams, or you think they aren’t very good. You may be right. Your ideas may stink. However, that doesn’t mean they can’t get better, with a little practice. If you think you can’t come up with good ideas, realize you already generate way more ideas than you can possibly use, and you just have to get better at recognizing the special ones.
Idea generation is really idea recognition. That means there’s no need to worry about coming up with good ideas, only the necessity to spot them as they percolate. They’re like bubbles inside soda pop. They are always rising and popping inside our minds, and it’s our job to give them a look and determine if we want to put them to use before they go poof.
New ideas might come most easily when you’re working toward something, perhaps even something unrelated. They’ll come when you’re curious, involved, and relaxed. They’ll come when you’ve exhausted all other means of trying to connect the dots. They may come as abstractions requiring solution. If you want to make new ideas, slow your racing mind down to a crawl and see what’s there.
Ideas are a natural effect of your mind figuring out what it needs to do to advance through the challenges you choose to engage in, as well as those you have no choice but to face. Ideas tend to respond to the needs of the moment to give you options, and that’s why they must be grabbed fast, or they dissipate into oblivion. If you’re running a business, it’s your responsibility to make the right calls among all the options available, or your business will dissipate into oblivion.
In my last post I talked about the “Aha!” moment I had in a yoga class that gave me the idea for YogaRat. That wasn’t just out of the blue, even though it also was. I went through years of uncertainty and try fails, as I kept reaching farther. When you do that, your mind starts thinking a little differently. If you’re always actively working to stretch beyond your limitations, that part of your brain that spits out ideas makes new ones faster and easier, to accommodate the need, and as you continue stretching, you become better at spotting them and quicker at evaluating them. Like yoga, you improve as you practice well.
If you’re looking for a general business idea and have no concept of how to begin, here’s a way to jumpstart the process:
Identify a product or service people would want to give you money to use or acquire, more so than they would want to give it to a competitor for a similar product or service. Whatever you identify will be a business idea.
That sounds pretty basic, but start with the needs and desires of the people with the dollar bills in their hands – your potential customers. It’s not about your desire to have a successful company or sell something because you love it. It’s about your fellow human beings choosing whether or not you’ll be successful by purchasing your product or service at a later date, and continuing to do so afterward. Who are those mysterious creatures called your future customers? What are they like? Why would they buy what you’re offering before they’d buy what somebody else is? What would they want that nobody else is offering them yet? If you can figure out an answer to that, you will have a business idea, and the answer is limitless, so you have plenty of options to peruse.
You don’t have to have an “Aha!” moment like I did. You could have lots of smaller “ahas” over a long period of time, until you settle on one idea you’re willing to struggle for. You’ll know the right one eventually, and if you have any reservations, understand them before you commit. Once you commit to acting on your idea the only option to stop must be failure, because that means you won’t allow yourself to.
Next episode, From Idea to Action…