It takes a lot of hard work and focus to run a small business. The day-to-day tasks can keep your mind busy, and they don’t always allow for time to brainstorm new marketing tactics, product ideas or business strategies. If you do have time, you might feel burnt out and uninspired. Inspiration is not something that you can force; it comes to you when you least expect it.
If your imagination feels strained and like you’re chasing an idea that doesn’t want to form, there are strategies you can use. Our list includes tips for any entrepreneur, even those who don’t have a lot of time to find new inspiration.
- Pinterest isn’t just for arts and crafts. Don’t rule out Pinterest just because it’s a social site. The search format makes it easy to scroll through hundreds of ideas that are relevant and personalized to you. You can even create your own boards for each potential project so you can organize them and reference them easily.
- Reflect on current strategies and their faults. It may be frustrating and unpleasant to mull over points of failure, but you’ll be able to take away valuable information and significant points of improvement.
- Write down all of your new ideas, even if they don’t feel worthwhile. Your situation may change with time, and an old idea may work within the new context.
- Check in on your competition. Is your competitor doing something interesting or innovative? Take note. Consider how you would respond to it as a customer and how it can be improved on or adjusted to make it even better. Use that as a launching point for a new, unique idea.
- Learn from someone who knows best. Is there an entrepreneur or public speaker that inspires you? Instead of settling into your favorite TV show after work or checking emails on your lunch break, take the time to look up an inspirational speech. Ted Talks, never longer than 20 minutes, are a great place to start.
- Subscribe to a podcast. Podcasts are a great format for small business owners without a lot of time but who have a big drive to broaden their knowledge base. From podcasts with business-minded hosts to in-depth interviews profiling the stories of innovators, entrepreneurs and idealists, there are hundreds of podcasts to choose from. Start with NPR’s How I Built This or the Ambitious Entrepreneur Show.
- Change the scenery. Sometimes a new idea just takes a fresh perspective. If you always do your work in an office or at home, seek out a new place to break from the norm. Try a coffee shop or local park to help break up the monotony and get inspired.
- Ask a friend or a stranger. Occasionally, you just need to bounce an idea around to help refine the details. Find a friend, be it your business partner or fellow small business owner, and propose your idea. Be open to criticism and questions — it will only make your idea better in the end. If you don’t have someone you can talk to, find a different perspective through forums like Reddit or Quora.
- Get active. Take a hike or hit the gym. Sometimes, inspiration is only blocked by our own busy minds. By performing some basic physical activity, you can become distracted enough to let your mind wander.
- Pump up the jams. Feel-good music can put you in a good mood and put your mind at ease so you can start thinking creatively. Make an inspirational playlist filled with your favorite up-beat songs. Get to a room or open space where you can clear your head and just get lost in the music.
- Browse the web. When you’re looking for a specific idea, sometimes all you need is a quick web search to find something to inspire you. Many business-minded sites will post “best of” lists that feature impressive designs, innovative marketing strategies and more.