Feb 13, 2009
While there are some signs that the tech recession may not be all that it was cracked up to be, there’s still plenty of reason to be both cautious and optimistic. At the moment I’m working a 4-day week instead of five in an effort to cut costs (Damn you Sequoia Capital!), though this is a blessing in disguise as my mortgage payment has dropped about 20%. Essentially this gives me a spare day a week to work on my own projects.
As I mentioned in a previous post, I have a list of about 150 ideas that have accumulated over the last few years and sat languishing, sadly in need of a bit of hard graft. Some of these ideas are either too much of a novelty, or too complicated to complete. Some have been done elsewhere, but then again – Why should this matter? There’s one particular idea that I’ve been working on since January, and in the last two weeks an Irish site has been released which does something very similar. There’s part of me that fears releasing something which would be seen as a derivitave of someone else’s idea, but another part that realises that even the best ideas out there have their competitors. In some cases a copycat site or product does something slightly different, or offers a subtle innovation that kicks the original’s ass. You just need to innovate 10% to differentiate a product from the competitors.
As Brian Tracy says in “The Psychology of Achievement“:
As long as there are people’s needs unmet and problems unsolved, there are opportunities to make money
Creativity is the magic elixir that turns a simple idea into a million euro business. How can you discover the innovation which can elevate your idea or brand above your competitors?
Here are Eight tips to stimulate creativity:
Write down clearly what you want to achieve
One of my favourite Japanese quotes is “The focused mind can pierce through stone“. Without focus on a specific end result you’re just wasting your time.
Free brainstorming can yield great results. Don’t limit what ideas you write down by critical thoughts such as ”Too complicated” or “Ah, that’s not practical”. Any random idea may spark a differnent idea which is a gem.
Try Opposite thinking
If you’re trying to solve a particular problem, try writing down exactly what you wouldn’t do. If you’re designing software, try listing the features that would make the worst possible piece of software you could write and then work on ways to do the exact opposite. I was sceptical of this concept, but was surprised by the ideas that this technique delivered.
Be Open to solutions
Whenever you find yourself complaining about something, catch yourself. Instead of complaining list a few ways to solve the problem. If you can ingrain this sort of thinking then suddenly everything becomes an opportunity.
Write down twenty solutions
You want to make more money every month? Sit down and don’t get up until you’ve written down twenty ideas for revenue generation. Do the same the next week and you’ll find your brain has been thinking of new ideas somewhere in the background. Usually the last solutions you think of are the best.
Define the obstacles to success
List what is stopping you from succeeding, then determine which one if removed, would yield the most results. Attack the problem from as many different angles as you can. According to Pareto, there’s probably one problem which is causing the majority of your problems. It’s probably the toughest, but kill this one first.
Examine your competition
Find out what your competition is doing that’s working, and figure out a way to do it better. Break down their ideas or process into steps, and see where you can innovate or remove steps in the process to come up with something streamlined.
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