Before you read any further, let’s make a deal. Do you agree with me that generating a big idea is possible for anybody regardless of level of intelligence or discipline? If you agree, you may read on, but if not, I sincerely feel there’s no point reading this! You don’t have to be a genius to come up with a great idea. Whether you are simply too busy to think, feel that your brain is stagnating or are somewhere between the two extremes, generating the big idea is a daunting challenge. Here are ten ways to start the creative process.
1 Prepare—generating an idea like every other task requires you to prepare your mind. Though it is true that ideas can come at any time, keeping an expectant mind helps you recognize and appreciate an idea when it eventually comes. Preparation in this case would involve acquainting yourself with relevant information. This of course you can get from good books and relevant websites. Last but the least, it involves preparing your brain to think!
2 Buy a notebook—now that you have turned on the faucet, you have to be prepared for the flow! Keep it in your pocket, beside the bed and even take it to the loo. Ideas can strike at any time. Write them down. Every business you can think of started from a small idea somewhere, from small observations or negative situations. Ore Orekunrin’s Flying Doctors Nigeria (1st Air Ambulance service in West Africa) is a typical example of such an idea—the major catalyst for the ground-breaking innovation being the death of her sister who died from a manageable condition as a result of efficient Accident and Emergency ward.
3 Ask a friend/group—who knows you well? Ask what they will buy from you, what you are good at and what you should avoid. Also try to know what they know as new business opportunities are birthed by everyday situations. Are your friends complaining of the distance of restaurants from their workplace? Are they complaining about the quality of service they are getting from the dry cleaner? Whatever it is, keep your ears to the ground—that might be the key to your next business idea. Its as easy as looking for what’s missing and bringing it!
4 Consider timing—will your idea appeal to your customers all year round? Selling Christmas decorations or hiring bikes might not keep you in groceries for a full year. Consider two businesses.
Secondly, you may also consider the amount you have at the moment and then consider businesses that are workable for you. You may also consider other sources of finance such as banks, venture capitalists, family or friends.
5 Read books—yes, of course! You really need to do that voraciously as it were. Adequate information is crucial to doing anything worthwhile in life and reading gives you just that! You may also explore other means such as attending business meetings and conferences. See how leading businesses started, often in small ways. Record what impresses you in that book. The more options you have, the better the choices you are likely to make.
6 Travel/ Stroll—you don’t need to go far. Visit local trade fairs and see what businesses are there. Pose as a buyer and ask questions. Stroll in the field and other places you rarely visit. Creativity coach, Cynthia Morris says, “The break from work gives you valuable mental space.”
Watch what people do. What’s missing? Your business must appeal to people. Constantly consider why, how, where and when. Raising your curiosity goes a long to raising your creativity.