Having ideas is something anyone can learn. This is a bit of a relief for most of us, especially because sitting around waiting for inspiration to strike can take a long time! And banging your head against the desk or staring at a blank piece of paper for ages is no fun at all.

There are a bunch of tried and tested techniques designed to get you in touch with your creative side, which I’m going to share with you now. But, as with most things in life, practise makes perfect. Get ready to put in some legwork.

Chill Out

Feeling tense is a sure-fire way to freeze your creative juices. The more you think about the fact that you haven’t had any ideas, the less likely it’s going to happen. So, first of all, you need to take a deep breath, kick back and relax. Nice.

There’s a reason you’re more likely to have ideas when you’re a bit dreamy – when you’re about to nod off, when you’re staring out the window on a train, when you’re out for a run, when you’re in the shower. As we relax our brain releases dopamine, which helps us have ideas. Plus, as we get more relaxed or distracted, our subconscious mind is free to make connections and find solutions. Genius.

Embrace this feeling. Put yourself into the zone on a regular basis and see if it helps the ideas to flow. (But don’t think about the fact that you’re supposed to be having ideas while you’re doing it, or it won’t work). And remember to keep a notebook handy to jot any ideas down, before you drop off or let them slip away.

Insider Inspiration

It’s hard to come up with an idea for a new business or a new product just by sitting on the sofa and racking your brains. Get out of the house and find some inspiration.

Here are some ideas:

  • Go to relevant trade shows or exhibitions
  • Attend webinars
  • Use social media
  • Go to networking events
  • Chat to people and find out what’s going on. What’s bothering them? What are they loving at the moment? What’s the latest gossip?

The more you get out and about and meet inspiring new people who are making great things happen, the more likely you are, to have your own ideas.

People Watching

This is my favourite idea generation method. I get my trench coat on (it’s important to be properly accessorised, don’t you think?) and go all sleuth. I plonk myself somewhere like a busy café or a shared workspace and I ‘people watch and ‘nosey in’ on people’s conversations (naughty!) letting my mind wander all over the place.

Obviously, in order to do this properly, you may well need to drink loads of lattes and consume some cake, to help your brain cells buzz.

What’s bugging you?

Think about things that are bugging you right now. Chances are you’re not alone. If you think about your favourite business ideas – many of those solve a problem.

Now, it’s over to you. Think about the things that wind you up or get on your nerves. For example:

  • “The coffee in my office is rubbish, I wish there was something nicer.”
  • “I need a decent laptop bag, but they are so not stylish. I could definitely design something better.”
  • “I’m always hurting my back on the school run. There are so many things to carry!”

Ask yourself these kinds of questions:

  • What are people buying at the moment to resolve their problem? How does it fall short?
  • How much do you think people would be prepared to pay for a solution?
  • What would persuade them to switch to yours?
  • What makes your business special or different from the competition?

Now What?

At this point, you may have lots of ideas. You’ve gone from one extreme to the other.

Firstly, don’t panic or you’ll head into ideas overload. Now that you’ve got some ideas buzzing around your head, you need to work out where the opportunities lie. Grab a notebook or a big piece of paper, and some post it notes, and considering each idea, one at a time; answer these questions:

  • How easy would it be to do something with this idea?
  • How much money do you think it could make?
  • How much fun would you have doing it?

Simple really – go with the ideas that have the greatest potential, are the easiest to make happen and will make your heart sing.

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