Idea ConceptOne amazing idea can set you apart from your competition. You’ll be a pioneer, introducing new concepts, blazing new trails and changing the way your market operates. But where do these ideas come from? Is there any way you can increase your creativity and foster the conditions that allow the creative spark to ignite? A sound business plan can help, along with the following helpful tips.

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1. Know the market

The first step involves observing the current marketplace. Determine the kind of customers you are dealing with by carefully defining demographics: age, sex, location, educational background, interests and financial capability. Pay attention to your target customer’s lifestyle and activities and you’ll be able to introduce new concepts that are more likely to succeed. Seek out key individuals who are likely to embrace your innovative business ideas and share their enthusiasm with other potential clients.

Your target market is your primary audience so your business model and concepts must cater to their needs.

2. Where to get ideas

You can get innovative business ideas by doing the simplest things. Take a walk around the block, explore a new neighborhood, or go for a jog at a nearby park. Everything you see—shops, animals, busy people, electronics, advertisements—all can inspire your creative muse.

Read books and magazines, join organizations, take up a hobby or go on a short trip. Your goal should be to move beyond the bounds of your regular routines. Open yourself to new experiences and diverse people and you’ll set the stage for creativity and inspiration.

3. Identify and get inspired

As you expose yourself to new people and circumstances, you’ll begin to identify problems, both big and small. When you start thinking about solutions to those problems, you’re on the path that leads to creative epiphanies. Make a list of the problems you see around you and look for possible solutions and alternatives. Consider the existing products and services that provide solutions to these problems; could more be done?

Take this line of thinking further. Look at existing products—new or old—and think about how you could improve or enhance them. Try not to place limits on your imagination, even if your ideas seem outlandish or impractical. The point is the creative thinking. By expanding your mind to previously unconsidered possibilities you are more likely to hit upon that one great idea.

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Testing Your Ideas

Keep it practical

Some business and product concepts can be very sophisticated. Complexity can lead to added expense, time and a need for expensive resources. Wherever possible you should focus on practical, attainable goals.

Analyze your idea and get clear on the potential costs and requirements. How long will it take to complete the project? What kind of budget will you need? What about the materials and manpower?

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Always keep your limitations in mind when you consider creating a new product or offering a new service. Stay practical by honestly assessing your resources, equipment and available time. While you need to begin the creative process with an unbounded mind, make things real by incorporating specific achievable methods.

Get feedback

Solicit feedback from others about your creative ideas. Bounce your thoughts off of friends, co-workers, family members and customers. Ask questions and pay careful attention to the reactions and suggestions you receive. Write down a list of pros and cons and ask for alternative suggestions or strategies.

Your customer’s comments—positive or negative—are essential for testing the merits of your ideas. Since they represent your current market, customers can clue you in to the needs, desires and triggers that you should focus upon.

Innovative business ideas are most often the result of thoughtful planning, imaginative thinking and careful listening.

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