It can be so frustrating when you’re dreaming of becoming an entrepreneur but the startup business ideas aren’t coming. You’re ready to get started but you’re not sure what to do for a business and all you keep reading about is how some hotshot business person just ‘had an idea’ one day and decided to go for it.
Annoying. Why can’t you be more like them?
Turns out, you can be. It just takes a little understanding of what an idea is exactly and how the brain forms them. According to James Webb Young, author of A Technique for Producing Ideas:
1. An idea is simply a new combination of old elements.
2. The ability for you to bring old elements into new combinations will depend on your ability to see relationships between things.
It stands to reason then, that:
a) The more elements (or experiences) you have had, the more opportunity you have to combine them into a new idea and;
b) The more you practice combining old elements.
So, how can you practice these two principles in your everyday life? Well, first, increase the amount of interesting and unique experiences you have and secondly start trying to combine those ideas.
To remove the obstacle of just getting started, we’ve compiled a list of 10 simple things to do to spark that elusive lightbulb moment and get your creative idea processing underway…
Travel helps you to explore how other people live their lives – the quirks, the routines, the symbols, and societal structures may be slightly, or significantly, different to your own. Haven’t you ever felt like you’re experiencing a new perspective on life when you’re in a different country? Travelling the world literally and metaphorically expands your horizons and opens you up to experiences that your brain can pull upon when it is in a creative mode at a future date.
2. Take a shower
Apparently taking a shower is the perfect trio of scientific creative opportunity. You’re in a relaxed state and distracted by a routine task, plus you’re getting a flood of dopamine from the enjoyment and physical sensations. These combined will often put you in a state of cognitive openness, where ideas just seem to magically pop into your mind.
Exercise isn’t just good for your body and your health. It can be great for sparking business ideas. Take Tikiboo founder Faye Jobbins who came up the with idea for her unique fitness fashion designs from becoming a personal trainer.
It also worked for Nick Woodman, who founded GoPro. He got his business idea whilst surfing on an extended trip to Australia and Indonesia back in 2002. He wanted to film himself surfing, and thus the waterproof portable action camera was born.
4. Do someone a favour
Airbnb founders Joe Gebbia and Brian Chesky were looking for ways to pay their rent shortly after moving to New York and they noticed all the hotels were booked up for the Industrial Design Conference. They decided to help people struggling to find accommodation. They bought three airbeds and rented out a place to sleep with breakfast thrown in via a website they named Air Bed And Breakfast. The rest is history! Of course, this was about seizing an opportunity as well as being nice people, but you never know where a favour will lead you. Be open to doing people favours, and see what happens…
5. Soak up some culture
Looking at art has a variety of neurological benefits and stimulates intellectual engagement, a trait that, if cultivated, increases your drive to engage in ideas. When was the last time you sat in front of a big beautiful renaissance painting or wandered around a museum or gallery seeking out art that stirs something in you? Try it… it might not immediately spark that genius business idea but it will prime your brain to be ready when inspiration strikes.