A successful entrepreneur must be both rational and creative. Rational because they take advantage of what they know, and creative because they use this knowledge to imagine what can be achieved in the future.
This balance needs to be practiced and experimented with during all stages of entrepreneurship: whether you are first formulating an idea, or filling in the details of your plan, or taking that plan to action, or improving your organization years down the line.
Coming up with a business idea is always the first step, and it can also be one of the biggest and most difficult. One problem is you can never know when a good idea might pop into your head. It could come during an intense group brainstorm, or while you are alone in the shower, or from a video game, or just some everyday conversation.
It’s important to always keep your eyes open and not discount anything as a potential source for inspiration.
Part of coming up with a good business idea is to let your imagination run wild, and the other part is trying to frame that idea in practical terms. Often these two things can act as opposing forces, but they are not mutually exclusive. When you find an idea comprised of both you should write it down as a potential match.
These are the types of questions you will want to consider while brainstorming:
- What are my interests, skills, and desires?
- How much time and motivation do I have?
- How much money do I have saved?
- Will I need a business loan for what I want to do? Can I get one?
- What are possible barriers of entry? Legalities?
- Will there be a market for what I want to sell?
- Will I need others to help me with the project?
Good business ideas don’t come without some creativity, and they also don’t come without a rigorous process of trial and error. When you think of a specific idea, you will want to ask questions like the ones above, as well as any relevant follow-ups. Think of yourself as a scientist, in which you keep testing the validity of your hypothesis until you have found something that stands strongly from multiple viewpoints.
When it comes to the important stuff – don’t ever guess, do research – especially if it is a factor that could make-or-break your project. Sure, you might have that “Eureka!” moment, where you think you have discovered some genius idea, but until you do the research you can’t know for sure whether you have truly found a gem or you are simply raising your hopes for nothing.
I’ve always encouraged my readers to be both creative and rational, but it is up to each person to find an appropriate balance (no matter what it is they are trying to achieve). It should go without saying but, by the end of the day, I can’t think for you. I can only think for myself and find what seems to work and what doesn’t. At best I can point to these strategies and encourage you to test them.
From what I have found, many creative strategies include stepping into different roles and looking at things from different angles. One role might be called “The Dreamer” or “The Artist,” and the other might be “The Realist” or “The Judge.” Consciously or not, you will need to practice each of these roles before coming up with an idea that can be successfully put to action.
As an entrepreneur and organizer, your role must be to combine different visions into one coherent whole. You have to look short-term, long-term, narrow, and wide, and then find a sweet spot where all the elements come together and work. When first coming up with an idea, nothing about your plans will be perfect or detailed, but you should at least have these things in the back of your mind. You are a visionary now.