There is one question that I tend to get asked quite often and that is “How on earth did you think of that?” or “Where did that idea come from?”. I will let you into a secret, there is no such thing as an original idea, but there is such a thing as authenticity. If you take the bones of another idea and add your passion, your spin, your opinion and your personality into the final product or service then the end result has the feeling of an original idea.
When it comes to business you will find that even though you may think that your idea is original, it probably isn’t. So the question should be “how do you get your creative juices flowing?”, and my answer would be “by being in the right mindset”.
Five ways to activate that creative button and how to get in the right mindset!
#1 – Create space in your life to let the juices flow
Some of my best ideas happen when I am not expecting it. Thinking too hard to try and find a solution for something can cause blocks. Often taking time out of your day to go for a walk, or have a long soak in the bath, watch a film and just “switch off”, you will find that you are carving space in your mind to allow ideas to flow. How many of your best ideas have sprung to mind in the middle of the night or whilst you were taking a shower?
I also have a little rule that I abide by. If the idea is good then you will remember it. So if I have an idea in the shower, on a walk or in the middle of the night I never write it down immediately. I know that if it is a good idea then it will raise its head again and then I know I need to pay attention and take action.
#2 – Listen to podcasts
The minute I stopped listening to podcasts then my ideas started to fizzle out. Lesson learned. If you want to keep moving forward with your business then you need to keep ahead of your game. Listening to industry news and learning about the latest gadget, or the latest developments will inspire you to move forward with your business. The Green Umbrella coaching club was launched not long after Social Media Examiner released their podcast. I was completely inspired by an interview with Leslie Samuel who was running a blogging coaching club for his audience “Become a blogger”. During the interview, he delved into all the processes and procedures of his club, the level of consistency of content and much more. I listened to that interview numerous times before taking his ideas, adding some “Green Umbrella” magic and making it our own.
#3 – Read books (or listen to audio books)
Reading books is another place to find inspirational ideas that you can embrace as your own. For example, the fantastic book called Jab, Jab, Jab Right Hook by Gary Veynerchuck was the inspiration for many of my talks about “Beans on Toast“. Beans on toast is a simplified way of explaining how the Facebook algorithm works. A smile appears on my face every time I hear someone saying “We need more beans on toast on our page”. The problem was that algorithms are complicated, I needed a simple way of explaining it if I was going to help my customers become successful on social media. The idea of the “beans on toast” was certainly not original, it was my spin on this famous book. If I had never read Jab, Jab, Jab, I probably would never have thought that the idea of explaining the algorithm in a simple way would enhance my business.
#4 – Attend expos, webinars and seminars
Many years ago I attended one of the Recruitment Expos, and I sat quietly in the back of a well-known speaker named Bill Boorman. I wanted to listen to him speak as I was keen to learn about new tools that I could use in my own business, and he was the expert. His talk mentioned over thirty different tools, and I could not wait to get back to the office and experiment with them all. I wrote down every single one, not knowing that this was going to be the inspiration for an online audio podcast in the coming months. The podcast was a raving success when we produced an audio version of each of our blogs along with a weekly “tool of the week”. A few years later, Social Media Examiner launched their podcast, which also had a weekly “discovery of the week” segment. Perhaps they copied my podcast? You never know! (Thanks to Bill for the original inspiration).
If you miss out on those exhibitions, seminars or webinars then perhaps you are missing out on new ideas to move your business to a new level.
#5 – Mystery Shopping
Some people will call this sly, but I call it “being sensible”. I have recently launched a sideline business that organises walks for local people. As this is a new industry for me then I was keen to find out what other people did. What were their processes? How were they making money? What did I like about their booking process, etc? It was actually a real eye opener when I went through the process of joining and attending one of their walks. Not only did I now have a better understanding of what I could do to enhance the service that I offer, but I also learned what NOT to do.
When was the last time you mystery shopped one of your competitors? I guarantee you will walk away with a few ideas that you can perhaps implement into your business, and also have that smug look on your face knowing that you do it so much better!
Good ideas do not just appear, you need to make things happen. Putting yourself in the situation where you can be inspired by others is certainly the easiest way to achieve creativity in my opinion.
What do you do to help generate new ideas for your business? I would love to know. Please comment below.