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5 Ways to Come up with New Business Ideas

From using your imagination when it’s at its best to seeking inspiration from your dreams, explore these creative ways to hit on an new winning business idea. 

Tap into Your Imagination

Famous psychoanalyst Carl Jung was well known for using active imagination, which in layman’s terms simply means tapping into your imagination. The concept can also be compared to exploring ideas through the art of day dreaming. It’s suggested that, to begin, you simply take 5-10 minutes to relax your body and mind through something like relaxation, breathing techniques or mindfulness.  

Do this lying down, and then with your eyes closed, ask yourself one of these kind of questions: Where is my big idea? What should I create? What does this idea look like? Where should I start? Try one at a time and allow enough time and space after each one for a potential response. After some time, images should start to appear in your imagination.  

Then, once some images or thoughts start to appear, start dialoguing with your imagination – having a conversation with what occurs, going back and forth. It’s a bit like role play. You can either do this in your head or on paper, writing down a two-way conversation where you play with ideas and ask your mind different possibilities: Can you say more about this? What might that look like? What else? It might take a few attempts but stick with it, and repeat the process a couple of times a week. 

Brainstorm Using Clustering

For those who prefer a practical approach, clustering is a free-association tool using pen and paper, and which starts from a central word or phrase such as “my big idea”. It’s an excellent technique for managing projects and generating creativity. It also is a great way for gathering lots of information quickly.  

It’s actually a journaling technique that rewards ‘randomness’, so it is a great choice when you’re feeling scattered or unsure and you need some focus. How does it work in practice? In a nutshell it’s very similar to creating a spider diagram. An A3 piece of paper (or bigger) can be helpful for this exercise.  

You start with your topic or subject in the middle of the page, such as “my big idea” and draw a circle around it and then simply shoot off arrows in different directions and at the end of each arrow write down a possibility, a potential big idea. Include the good, the bad, the ugly, whatever comes to you. You might start to notice good ideas or general themes that need expanding, so for those, simply use that as a new centre-point – draw a circle around that new thought or possibility – and sprout-off arrows and related ideas for that branch too. Keep going until you feel you’ve exhausted the options. Review your findings and highlight areas to explore further.  

Play to Your Strengths

We all know that all our best ideas happen in the shower, driving, just as we wake up or during exercise. There’s a good reason for this. Experts agree that we’re often in touch with our creativity most when we’re feeling relaxed and often when we’re on auto-pilot – such as when we’re in the shower. So one thing to try, is to keep a small whiteboard or notebook in the bathroom, in the car and by your bed so that you can catch the kernel of an idea or interesting thought that you’d like to explore. If you’re open to ideas coming to you in these moments, and you’re ready to capture them, you may find that you start to have more ideas during these moments – if you’re ready to keep an open mind. 

Forget Originality

There are so many great ideas out there already, so it’s quite likely that you won’t be the first person to come up with an idea or new service or brand.

However, many clever entrepreneurs waste previous energy thinking of a unique business, when they should be focusing on how to be better, rather than how to be different. Remember, MySpace wasn’t the first social network. Instead, make a list of all the brands, services and businesses you find particularly interesting or inspiring and ask how you can put your own mark on the idea. How can you improve it or give it a new spin? Try making a list of all the possibilities, even the ridiculous sounding ones. Allow them all a place at the table before you explore the ones with mileage.  

Sleep On It

Imagine going to bed at night and just before you drift off you ask for your next business idea. You wake in the morning to find that after a little reflection, something has happened, and you have some new ideas or thoughts worth exploring. Dream incubation, as it is known, is simply a way to plant seeds while you sleep. Many great minds, artists, scientists, creatives and scholars have used pre-sleep suggestions successfully to inspire or improve their work, including Thomas Edison, Albert Einstein and Salvador Dali.  

It’s straightforward. Simply summarise the problem in one question – the thing you want to understand more fully e.g. What’s my big business idea? Write this out 10 times on a piece of paper and place it near your bed. As you drift off repeat your question in your mind as many times as you can, as you drift off to sleep. The result? Experts believe you could either have a dream that starts to unravel your question or else the answer may start to unfold in your waking life.  

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