Do you feel like you’re just one good idea short of success? (Tweet this)
When people subscribe to my newsletter, the first email they get from me asks them what they are struggling with. Simply having a worthwhile idea to develop into a viable business is one of the most common responses I get.
Invariably, plenty of you guys seem to have drive and ambition in abundance – you are perhaps just lacking the one thing that will allow you to leverage those qualities to their maximum potential – a great idea.
I certainly have many weaknesses, but one thing I am never short of is ideas. In fact, I have a surplus of them. And in this article, I want to share with you the two simple steps I follow to produce and develop those ideas.
1. Nourish Creativity
Great ideas are borne of great creativity. Therefore, in order to generate ideas, you must put yourself in surroundings that breed creativity.
In my experience, that “creative zone” is a place that many of us rarely see. It is stifled by the habits of modern life. Quite simply, it is silence. I mean that in both a literal and figurative sense. That rare moment in our lives when you have time to consider that which you have not yet considered. When there is nothing in particular to worry about – when your mind is truly free to wander aimlessly.
Regular readers may recall my trip to Bulgaria back in May. What you may not have pieced together is that my holiday was the catalyst for everything I am working towards now. It started with a bit of an epiphany, as described in Why I Am No Longer In A Rush To Get Rich, and developed from there.
Here’s a brief list of ideas I came up with whilst on holiday:
- A new blog
- Two information products
- A fresh guest posting strategy
- The re-branding of this site
- The new content drive of this site
- Ten new article ideas
Basically, the ideas for everything I am doing right now, and everything that I plan to do in the next twelve months or so, were all formulated in Bulgaria. And do you know why? Because I was in that elusive creative zone. For a whole week, I had nothing to worry about apart from a few hours of work in the morning, an afternoon round of golf, and an evening spent relaxing. I actually came up with the idea for this very post on that same holiday.
All successful businesses (in one way or another) rely upon creativity. In spite of that, many of us overwork ourselves and then boast of 70 hour work weeks, as if it is a badge of honor – a right of passage for new and aspiring entrepreneurs. But running yourself into the ground in such a way stifles creativity to the point of suffocation.
I know that it is tough to find time where you can simply sit in silence and let your creative juices flow. But you must make time for it. No television, no computers, no distractions – just moments of peace where you don’t need to be doing anything. You’ll be amazed at what starts to emerge. A clear mind breeds clarity of purpose.
Do you know when my best ideas typically come about? When I’m in bed, and it’s pitch black, and there is nothing left for me to do but think. Sometimes insomnia can be a good thing.
2. Think Indiscriminately
The way to get good ideas is to get lots of ideas, and throw the bad ones away. (Tweet this)
~ Linus Pauling
Some of you may know that I am a singer in a band. I also write songs. I’d like to think that I write a good song every now and then, but I don’t half write a lot of crap as well. It’s ultimately a numbers game – the more I write, the more likely I am to come up with something of quality.
So don’t be afraid of having terrible ideas – on the contrary, welcome them with open arms. Treat all of your ideas as golden. Write them down. Roll them around in your head and let them develop – you never know where they may lead. Don’t be afraid to experiment. As an anonymous wit once said, “A half-baked idea is okay, as long as it’s in the oven”.
For instance, a few months ago I had an idea for a blog, but I never felt comfortable with it. That idea eventually developed into something which I would love to do (as soon as I have the time and finances to commit to it). What I think of as one great idea, came out of another that didn’t thrill me.
Alternatively, consider my Easy Tweet Embed plugin (which I used twice in this post). What started off as a blog post became an extremely primitive plugin. A reader of this blog then got in touch with me and was of huge assistance in creating what is now a fully-featured plugin on the WordPress.org repository. Who knows where this journey will continue to take me?
Even the most small and insignificant of ideas can lead to bigger things, so never put your ideas down.
I have a folder in my Evernote called “Ideas on the Backburner”. It is filled with tens of individual ideas – most of which I know will never come to fruition. (Niche sites based primarily upon a Twitter growth strategy? Interesting concept, but almost definitely financially unviable.) Still, I keep them. I may well never come back to most of them, but I think there are a few gems in there. And in order to find those diamonds in the rough, you must not forget the rough itself.
Your Great Idea Could be Just Around the Corner
Although being naturally creatively minded is important (and can give you an edge), simply allowing yourself to be creative, and not stifling that creativity, can make a huge difference.
The above is what works for me, and I believe that it can work for you too. For those amongst you who don’t have a problem in coming up with new ideas, tell us – what are your methods? And for those of you who do struggle, do you think that the above advice will help? There is only one way to find out!
I will leave you with one more quote – one that should spur you on once you begin to develop some great ideas:
Everyone who’s ever taken a shower has had an idea. It’s the person who gets out of the shower, dries off and does something about it who makes a difference.
~ Nolan Bushnell
Creative Commons image courtesy of Kash_if