Have you ever noticed that some days you are simply more creative? Problems seem easier to solve, marketing ideas come along at a rapid rate, words flow like the flood gates have opened? But, at other times inspiration seems as far away as that lottery win you dream of when times are tough, or even when they aren’t!
As entrepreneurs we all need to stimulate our creative juices from time to time – waken up the old brain cells and unblock our channel vision. Here are ten simple ways to encourage inspiration – as both a writer and an entrepreneur I have tried them all and guarantee they work.
- Switch off your work-brain – Let’s get you started with an easy one – simply go for a long walk! That’s right, even in the middle of a busy workday if you are feeling tired, your mind constrained by all that’s going on around you, simply wander off for a while – let your brain reboot. Worried about lost productivity? Don’t be, when you get back you will be amazed at how much you will get done – far more than you would have managed by kicking your heels while in a funk.
- Change your perspective – Spend some time with young children. If you have children of your own, or grandchildren, or nieces and nephews spend a little quality time with them playing games; let go and enter their world for awhile. The change of perspective will be cathartic. Have fun and don’t be afraid to look and act silly.
- Let your passion shine through – Deliver a workshop, or speech, to grade 11 and 12 students at your local high school, (volunteering with Junior Achievement can achieve this many times over!). Talk about entrepreneurship, your business, or your industry – let yourself become passionate about what you do, and what you manufacture or sell. You will be surprised how young people, on the cusp of their careers, view the world. The questions they ask will allow you to expand on your business philosophy, and in so doing bring you back to a previous edition of yourself, uncluttered by years of negative experiences.
- Recognize what’s important – Our creative juices get blocked when we develop tunnel vision. It comes from working in the same environment, with the same people, day after day. We begin to see things the way we expect to see them, not the way they could be. Not only that, we can often feel browbeaten, think nothing is going right and that the world is against us. Spend some time volunteering with an association that helps the less fortunate in our society; this could be the homeless, the abused, the disenfranchised. Where you volunteer is less important than doing some good while getting a whole new perspective on what’s important in life.
- See the other side of your business – On a more practical note, in terms of staying close to your business, spend a day working with one of your employees. Turn off your phone, and get your assistant to hold all your calls, and work alongside one of your staff. Learn everything about what they do and how they operate. Don’t cheat; to make this work you have to NOT be the boss for a day – completely divorce yourself from your managerial role and see things entirely from their perspective. Have lunch with them, encourage them to open up to you about what they like/dislike about their job, let them tell you how they could do it better. Encourage them to gripe!
- Review old ideas, even ones you or your staff dismissed as being unworkable – this can be a gold mine of money-making ideas. Over time you and your team will have come up with many ideas that got dismissed as being unworkable at the time, but times change; ideas tossed out a few years ago may now give you just the inspiration you need. New ideas are often ahead of their time and get discarded – never be afraid to revisit your idea scrap heap and become re-inspired by old ideas. After all, aren’t we always being encouraged to recycle?
- Check out successful business people’s approach to business – Visit your local bookstore and wander through the business section and dip into several of the books you find there. Don’t only look at author’s writing about your industry, or a topic that particularly interests you. Seek out a businessperson who has a vision – someone who writes passionately about business and buy that book. When you read it, make notes in the margin every time you read something that could apply to your business, and every time you read something that makes you think about your business. Ideas stimulate ideas – make connections to your business freely and without fear.
- Visit www.stumbleupon.com – this site takes you to random websites and pages. Spend ten minutes or so just looking at the sites that come up. Don’t be concerned about the quality – if you don’t find something interesting then hit the ‘Stumble’ button and move on to another ‘find’. A typical visit my take you to a list of words of wisdom given to someone by their economics teacher at school some years ago. The first one, of 100, stated, “There are many ways to enter a swimming pool, the stairs are not one of them.” That really made one think about the fun of approaching things from non-traditional ways. Inspirational, and it only took a few seconds! What creativity will the next 99 inspire?
- The what, where and when of inspiration – What inspires you? Where are you when you feel most inspired? At what times do you feel most inspired? I’m sure that if you think about it for a few seconds you will be able to come up with “the what” that inspires you – perhaps it’s certain people like Mother Theresa, the music of Tchaikovsky or it could even be the contestants on The Biggest Loser television show fighting obesity. Whatever it is, surround yourself with these influences when you need to be inspired about your business. When it comes to “the where” it could be sitting in a church, spending time at your cottage on the lake, meditating, or having a massage – think about where it is you feel most relaxed and where inspiration seems to come more easily. Finally, “the when” – if you believe in bio-rhythms you’ll know that at certain times of the day you are a great deal more creative than at others. Don’t try to force inspiration at times of the day where mentally you are at a low ebb – schedule brainstorming, or planning sessions at times when you are feeling on top of your game.
- Watch TED talks – this last suggestion is huge; if you already know about Ted talks then you don’t need to be told how inspirational most, if not all, of these presentations can be. If you are looking for a new angle, a new approach for your business, a new way to market what you sell, or just want to top up your creativity and innovation quotient, try listening to a few TEDTalks and you’ll never look back. Visit Ted www.ted.com. Many individuals and websites list their favourite Ted Talks; but this link will take you to a top ten that I wholeheartedly recommend. Watch them and you can’t help but be inspired. www.ted.com
Inspiration exists, but it must find you working – Pablo Picasso