If you are an entrepreneur or small business owner, you know how important it is to maintain a competitive edge and attend to daily business strategies. Running a business is arduous work, requires 24/7 attention, and often leaves you, the business owner, exhausted. Moments of creativity can be elusive. Yet to remain competitive, you always need to be on the lookout for fresh and inspiring ideas.
Here are some tips I use to make creative thinking not only an everyday habit, but a realistic solution to business profitability. Creative thinking is the start of dreaming big. It helps us uncover new solutions, and innovative ways of solving customer needs. As a business consultant, I like to inspire my clients to dream big, but stay real. Try this approach to dreaming big.
Write It Down
I keep a small notebook and write down any interesting or novel ideas I notice throughout the course of my daily work. It is best to capture these thoughts when you notice them, because they can be easily forgotten. You may think you will remember, but often with so much of daily living vying for your attention, thoughts tend to slip away. Capturing thoughts in a notebook, smart phone or tablet allows you to revisit the concepts later. Creativity is the act of making new connections. The ideas you document today may connect nicely with an idea documented previously and suddenly you have the start of something big.
Refine, Refine, and Refine Some More
When I think that I have the start of a great new product or workshop, I begin researching how realistic it might be to pursue. Is there competition for this shiny new idea? Is there a market that would benefit from this new idea? What problem is this idea solving for my clients? My research consists of doing research on the internet, comparing this idea with what other competitors offer, and questioning current clients to solicit their opinions.
Build a Prototype
I love to work with pilot projects. I have a few clients use the prototype to learn exactly how well the clients interact with the product and how much value the product adds for the client. Promoting the idea as a pilot project allows me to develop it without investing a lot of money, knowing that revisions will be made after piloting. If you provide the prototype to your clients at a very modest cost, they are likely to participate in this testing stage and provide honest feedback.
Promote, Promote, Promote
Once you have established that the product or service is viable, develop your marketing plan. I have successfully used this approach in creating our group coaching programs, our business planning model, and our e-book series. It is a practical way to develop new ideas and engage clients at the same time. A win-win situation for everyone.