Six Ways To Find Business Inspiration

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Being creative is not easy. Being original is not easy. Reading books on how to be creative and how to be original is not something that many people do often enough (myself included).

There’s also a huge difference in being creative for the sake of exploring some new unchartered personal territory (like taking a class in sculpting), but it’s not so obvious what to do when it comes to being creative in business. Many of us have Blogs, Podcasts, Twitter accounts, Facebook profiles and more, but are often stumped with what – exactly – to create and publish. What is the secret sauce for people who consistently publish content? While some have tried, it’s not something that is clearly definable (hence the term, "secret sauce"). That being said, there are some ways to look at things differently and inspire your more creative business side.

Here’s how…

Six Ways To Find Business Inspiration:

  1. Get A Clue(train) – If you have not read the book, The Cluetrain Manifesto (by Rick Levine, Christopher Locke, Doc Searls and David Weinberger), then that in and of itself should give you fodder for years to come. If you’ve dog-eared and post-it noted your book to death, then crack it open one more time to any random page, take a read and write out what you can do in your industry in relation to whatever topic you just consumed. Side note: Basic Books just released a special 10th Anniversary Edition hardcover edition with some new/additional content.
  2. Follow The Ads – Every year there are multiple advertising industry trade magazines that highlight the "best of the year." The ads include everything from TV and radio to out-of-home and online advertising. You may think that the 30-second spot is dead, but these award winners are clever and inspiring. How well can you convey your story?
  3. Never Eat Alone – Grab someone who inspires you and take them to lunch. You pay. Just enjoy the conversation and please don’t have any set agenda or be thinking about how to create a deal. Just enjoy the conversation and company.
  4. Listen And Learn – Head over to iTunes and subscribe to a Podcast that interests you. Listen to a few episodes and write out what you’ve learned on your Blog. If you don’t have a Blog, ask someone who does have a Blog if they would be open to a guest post from you.
  5. Learn about someone you hate – Read the biography of someone you never respected (in history or business). It might surprise you how they rose to power, what it meant to them and how it changed the world (for the better or for the worse). Sometimes we learn most by reading about people we would never want to act like. Learning what not to do is sometimes as important as learning what to do.
  6. Read a comic book – Odds are the story won’t exactly rock your world, but reflect on what goes into a single issue of a comic book: from the story and art to the pencilling and publishing. If you have seen the blockbuster movie, Iron Man, you have to be able to appreciate that someone came up with the concept for him in the early 1960s.

It was Albert Einstein who said: "Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited to all we now know and understand, while imagination embraces the entire world, and all there ever will be to know and understand."

How do you get inspired when it comes to new thinking for business?


  1. I agree wholeheartedly with your #5, Mitch. I can’t tell you how many times I’m surprised by watching/reading a bio of someone I dislike. I’m almost always turned around by the end, and yes, I’ve learned something.
    #4 too. I often birth tangential ideas while listening to podcasts. Hearing others debate and discuss does something to connect the dots on things you’ve wrestled with privately.
    I’ll add one: Say it out loud. Thinking in silence can get you stuck inside your head with all the other thoughts bouncing around. Something about verbalizing (even when you’re alone) helps focus your ideas.
    I also like to throw a football in the air when I’m thinking or writing… dunno if that actually helps though.
    Oh and gummi bears. Lots of gummi bears!

  2. I travel to see new sites and get inspired by the great hospitality design solutions of hotels, restaurants, bars etc. I am an interior designer and the positive and unique visual and emotional effect of a space on its occupants is my number one goal.

  3. Find your niche, a place where you are comfortable like maybe a waterfall and just think, or read – something that suits or fits you.

  4. I love these ideas – thanks for posting this, Mitch. I’m particularly interested in trying out number 5.
    I’m not sure if this is something unique to booksellers, but something that also works really well is COLLABORATION.
    The spirit of collaboration often opens up a whole new way of seeing things in your own services or products.
    Booksellers (at least the campus and independent booksellers in both Canada and the US that I spend a lot of time networking with), are open, friendly and generous in sharing ideas and things that have worked really well for them.
    But apart from collaborating with other booksellers and sharing/borrowing ideas from each other, I’ve also had some success in collaborating with other businesses that perhaps have NOTHING to do with books.
    By simply opening up a dialogue and finding commonalities or tie-ins between our businesses, we’ve been able to come up with something new that benefits both parties and offers something fresh and unique for customers.
    The best example was when our bookstore collaborated with Haunted Hamilton last October — they specialize in historic ghost walks, we sell books. But in the week prior to Halloween, the folks at Haunted Hamilton did a free custom ghost walk of the McMaster campus that started and ended at our campus bookstore; inside the store we had 10 Canadian authors of ghost stories/horror novels doing readings and book signings until midnight.
    Their customers discovered us, our customers discovered them, and we both saw an increase in business — merely because we collaborated with another local business to create a free event and tried something neither of us had ever done before.

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