Business ideas so good you’ll want to hit yourself

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Henry Ford said, “The air is full of ideas. They are knocking you in the head all the time. You only have to know what you want, then forget it, and go about your business. Suddenly, the idea will come through. It was there all the time.”

The best business ideas are those that solve a problem in some way. Going through the “School of Hard Knocks” in any business, you learn that if there’s a problem that affects one business, chances are it also affects others. However, there isn’t always a one-size-fits-all formula for finding the perfect answer to your particular challenge. Group discussions at networking gatherings can produce possibilities that you can modify to fit your needs.

Inspiration can strike in the most unexpected places, and very often the most creative ideas can occur when you’re completely absorbed in something entirely different.

Did you ever attend a meeting where someone presented an idea that made you figuratively slap your head when you realized it was exactly the solution you were looking for? That one idea made the time you sat through the meeting worthwhile.

Or when chatting with business friends, have you ever had one of them mention an ingenious way they made something work and again — bam — you knew that taking that idea a step farther would create a solution for you? These kinds of “head slappers” can sometimes be the catalyst for taking our businesses to the next level. Borrowing ideas and reinventing them is what makes any industry move forward. Sharing the ideas of contemporaries pushes us to new places.

Head -slapper ideas can occur at any time. I asked a friend, who wishes to remain anonymous but is a real creative genius, if there was a way to encourage good ideas. Here are a couple of his suggestions:

  • Look for ideas in diverse places. Great ideas can be found in all kinds of different settings totally unrelated to your business. Open your eyes and become aware of what makes another business tick. Even if you attend a seminar or program that is outside your work arena, you can usually pick up a head-slapper idea.
  • Open your mind and ears to what colleagues who see things differently are saying and doing. Notice how they work at creating new ways to make things work. Connect the dots.
  • Creative answers come from sharing ideas. Toss your ideas out to find out what others think, and then look for ways to improve, adapt, or change the ideas to better fit for your own solutions.
  • Be prepared for when an idea hits. A business friend tells me he gets his best ideas while driving. He’s learned to carry a small recorder so he doesn’t forget a thing.
  • Ideas come from brainstorming sessions. You know, the ones where nobody criticizes anyone’s idea.
  • Let your subconscious go to work. Think about how someone else has solved “the mousetrap” problem and find ways to make it better.

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Dr. David Pensak, author of Innovation for Underdogs, suggests that we are born with an innate ability to innovate and using that ability can make us more valuable by helping to create new products and services. By learning to listen and be aware of opportunities, you can find a constant stream of good ideas to improve or reinvent a business.

Many trade associations provides opportunities for business folks to join together in idea-sharing groups. The diversity of perspectives that come from these kinds of meet-ups can produce powerful ideas without having to spend resources on going outside the industry to search for new ideas.

Harvey S. Firestone, (1868–1938), American businessman and founder of Firestone Tire and Rubber Company, said, “Capital isn’t that important in business. Experience isn’t that important. You can get both of these things. What is important is ideas.”

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