10 Unexpected Places to Find Business Inspiration

1Many people dream of owning their own business, but don’t know where to start. They are held back by what they perceive as a lack of good ideas. In a crowded marketplace, how do you differentiate yourself and attract customers — and profits?

The good news is that inspiration is everywhere, if you know where to look. Even if you don’t consider yourself a “creative type,” with some of these techniques, you might find the perfect idea for a new business, or for growing a business you already have — an idea that could put you on the path toward wealth and financial freedom.

1. Social Media

“Social listening,” the practice of monitoring what people are talking about on social media — and their sentiments toward those topics — is growing among entrepreneurs and marketers who want to make better decisions and give people what they want. Follow the thought leaders in your industry, or conduct a keyword search to see what people are talking about. Trends, complaints, and issues could inspire your next great business idea.

2. Friends and Family

Social listening allows you to see what strangers are saying, but your friends and family could be a well of inspiration as well. What are they talking about? What problems do they need solved? What could make their lives easier? Bounce your ideas off your friends and family. They can offer a fresh perspective and identify ways to tweak or improve your ideas, or even provide inspiration for a completely new direction.

3. Daily Life

Is there an aspect of your daily life that you would like to change? What problems do you face? Spend some time brainstorming solutions to universal challenges — you might just find a killer business idea.

4. Travel

Sometimes, all it takes is a change of scenery to spark an idea. Take some time out of the office to think and be inspired. You don’t need to head to an exotic destination, either. Exploring your own city and checking out places you’ve never seen before can ignite your creativity by stimulating your brain.

5. The Future

Too many businesses fail because they focus on the past, or even the present. Instead, imagine your business five or ten years in the future. What trends are coming down the pike? What are people going to want going forward? While you may not be able to predict the future with 100 percent certainty, looking forward can spark creativity and better business ideas than simply focusing on what your customers need right now.

6. Pinterest

2Pinterest might seem like a repository for recipes, crafts, and home décor projects, but it’s also a creativity-boosting goldmine. Perusing the images to see what’s resonating with audiences. What’s trending, what are people making, doing, and loving? You may find an idea that you can turn into a successful business.

7. Change Your Routine

Even small changes can provide stimuli that lead to great ideas. Try driving a different route to the office, listening to different music, even ordering a different sandwich at lunch. Regularly changing things up keeps you from falling into creative ruts and could lead to your next great idea.

8. Competition

Running a successful business often means differentiating yourself from the competition and doing things differently, better, or more affordably. Carefully analyze your competition to identify places where you can do things better or fill in gaps in service. Keep in mind that competition doesn’t just refer to other companies within your industry or that offer similar products or services. Competition refers to anything that competes with you for your customer’s time, attention, and money. How can you make your business stand out among the noise?

9. Existing Business

If you already own a business, you may be looking at ways to expand or gain a bigger market share. One of the best ways to do that is to look closely at what you’re already doing and identify areas where you can add products or services and tweak those you have. List all of the ways that you can leverage your existing products or services — you might come up with something that seems weird, but appeals to customers and drives revenue.

10. Unusual Connections

A brainstorming exercise called triggering can get your creative juices flowing. Identify the problem, then gather several unrelated items and try to find of ways to relate them to your problem. The ideas may not make sense or even work, but you could trigger a thought that leads to a successful business idea.

Entrepreneurship can be challenging, but the long-term rewards of greater wealth and financial security make it worthwhile. If you think you’re stuck, try these techniques — you might surprise yourself at how creative, and successful, you can really be.

About Mohit Tater

Mohit is the co-founder and editor of Entrepreneurship Life, a place where entrepreneurs, start-ups, and business owners can find wide ranging information, advice, resources, and tools for starting, running, and growing their businesses.

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