Staring at a blank page is intimidating. Trust me, I know. Starting this blog post was equivalent to meeting the parents for the first time—except worse because it didn’t invite me over for dinner and drinks. As intense as coming up with new ideas can be, it is extremely necessary for the progressivity of a business.
The problem with many businesses is that they get in the habit of being habitual. You do things that you’ve done all along, that have worked at least to some extent, and that your customers have become used to. What many business owners don’t realize is that, while it is good to maintain some sort of consistency, becoming habitual makes your company boring and dated. All great artists, authors, musicians, businessmen, inventors, you name it have to start somewhere. And once they start, they can’t stop there. Same goes for you. There is never a good time to stop inventing. All you need is a little inspiration.
Unfortunately, brilliant ideas don’t come as easily as we’d like them to. Many times we step up to the drawing board only to discover that we don’t actually have anything to contribute. The moment you realize this occurs at the same moment you realize you’re ready to give up. But, don’t let your blank slate disappoint you. You may just need to find inspiration in different ways.
So, where to begin? Before you toss another idea in the trash, follow these five tips to help you get the inspiration you need to make your business an even bigger success:
Think Big, then Make It Work
One of the biggest inspiration blocks is thinking that something is just too big to be able to make work. The truth of it is: no, not everything is going to work. But BIG is a good place to start. If you come up with a completely crazy idea, don’t scrap it just yet. Think of something that you’d like to make happen, then downsize it to make it work. In other words, think about products the world probably doesn’t need in relation to products it probably could use. Make your ideas manageable without feeling like you need to think small. Pay attention to what would actually be practical based on your market, but don’t be afraid to test ideas that seem a little outrageous. After all, sometimes the most outrageous ideas are the one that make the most sense.
Don’t Force Ideas—Let Them Come Naturally
Sometimes your problem is just that you’re thinking too much. If you find yourself focusing on ideas that are stubborn, or require extensive adjustments to make work, then you may be trying to find solutions to the wrong issues. Rather than overthinking one aspect and getting stuck on a single topic or idea, try looking at the problem from different angles: What about ____ needs fixed? Who could use ____? When would ____ be useful/not useful? Why am I creating ____? Who are my competitors? How can I distinguish myself from them? By acknowledging all aspects of your idea, you are able to point out the strengths and weaknesses of your proposal, realize its feasibility, and consider how you could approach it differently to make it work. Nothing is worse than trying to force a round idea in a square environment; so, let them work together.
Do Something Else
Listen, staring at a blank page gets boring after a while—not to mention, it’s extremely discouraging. If you are finding yourself at a standstill with your ideas, step away for a while. It might sound simple, but clearing your head could be exactly what’s necessary to make room for better ideas. Go outside, cook a meal, go to the gym, binge some Netflix, do whatever you can to redirect your focus. You’ll be surprised to see that you have new, fresh ideas when you return to the drawing board. Plus, being in a different environment sparks ideas that might be stifled in the confines of your same-old writing space.
Start with a Passion, then Assess the Need
If you are starting completely fresh—I’m talkin’ brand new business without any previous experience or ventures—start with a passion. Putting time and money into something that you genuinely enjoy feels a lot more rewarding than investing in something that carries no interest. Once you have committed to investing in your passion and realized which direction you want to go with it, assess the need. Chances are, other people share similar interests and will be happy to put your product or business to use. Think about the audience that would be attracted to your idea. Does the environment you are in foster the growth of your new business? Or, would your business do better elsewhere? If your passion is something that is not widely recognized yet, introduce it—it may become the next big thing!
Find Inspiration in other art
One of the best ways to find inspiration in your own work is through others’. Listen to music, go to the art museum, read a new book, or watch a documentary. Try to step out of the box a little bit. Watching and listening to the weird stuff sparks different sorts of emotions and can give you great, unexpected ideas. Plus, witnessing someone else’s cleverness encourages you to think similarly. Get a little innovative, open your mind to new concepts, and learn to make your ideas a little weird, too. Let your right brain go crazy and apply creative spins to your ideas. Come up with concepts that can be used to inspire future businesses or ventures. Truthfully, any business can benefit from taking a walk on the wild side every now and then.
Ah, your blank page is looking a little more colorful now, isn’t it? Finding inspiration doesn’t have to be as difficult as we think. Allowing yourself the luxury of walking away from your project just might be the perfect way to let it thrive. When you return, take your blank page by the horns and let your imagination run wild.
Author: Kathryn Esper is marketing writer for Factor Finders, LLC.