Every business you can think of was started as a result of someone's inspiration. The initial idea will have been prompted by many inspirational factors. Unless you have been in business before, each good idea you generate will prompt some doubt. The battle for supremacy between inspiration and doubt creates the tension that urges exploration. Only the foolhardy start a business without considering the downside as well as the opportunity.
Over the Christmas break, take time to look back at what you enjoyed working on and thrived at and re-visit the things that didn't work to look at what could be improved on!
Whether you're simply too busy to think, feel that your brain is stagnating (it can go into overload at this time of year!) or are somewhere between the two extremes, generating the big idea for business can be a daunting challenge. So here are ten ways to start the creative process:
1. Buy a notebook - keep it in your pocket, beside the bed and even take it to the loo. Ideas can strike at any time. Write them down. (Paperchase do a great selection).
2. Ask a friend - who knows you well. Ask what they would buy from you, what you are good atand what you should avoid.
3. Avoid the hobby habit - many people feel that their hobby holds the key, but are there enough people who share your passion with money to spend?
4. Watch the weather - will your idea appeal to your customers all year round? Selling Christmas decorations or hiring bikes might not keep you in groceries for a full year. Consider two businesses.
5. Read books - yes, of course you are already doing that, but read others too. See how leading businesses started, often in a small way. Record what impresses you in that notebook.
6. Open your eyes - all around you are people running businesses. What do you think you could do better? You may not want to be a newsagent but thinking about how the one you frequent operates will be a useful exercise.
7. Stroll in the park - and other places you rarely visit. Watch what people do. What's missing? Your business must appeal to people. Think about how.
8. Travel - you don't need to go far. Visit local trade fairs and see what businesses are there. Pose as a buyer and ask questions. Constantly consider why, how, where and when.
9. Check your CV - most people actually start a business in an area in which they have worked before. Don't take this for granted, but accept it as a possibility all the same.
10. Shake the pig - emptying your money box onto the bed is the ultimate reality check for the budding entrepreneur. If Auntie Violet has just died and left you a million, your choice is wide. For most of us though, cash will constrain your start-up plans.
Best way of all, is to speak to someone already in business so pick up the phone and call! I look forward to hearing what's on your mind for 2014.
Merry Christmas, everyone!