Habits work, resolutions don’t. If you are serious about generating ideas, you must make it a habit. Commit to writing down two new ideas daily into your notebook/notes app. Set up a calendar reminder or download a habit app on your mobile. I use the “Productive” mobile app to build and track habits. You will get better with time. You will start noticing opportunities around you. Your quality of ideas will improve. Your creativity will start to flow.
Reading is fuel for the brain. You have to feed your brain with continuous knowledge and research to allow yourself an understanding and appreciation of the possibilities before you. Develop the habit of reading—everything from business and economy, to blogs by business and management leaders, to the latest industry buzzwords, startup success stories, VC investments, entrepreneur talks, etc. Read “proactively”. Before you read, take some time to reflect on what you already know about the topic—it will help you process and retain what you read significantly better.
New thinking can’t happen in isolation. I suggest you build a network of people. Ideally, this network will have people from diverse backgrounds and expertise; people as motivated as you are to start a new business. The more you talk to them, the more you hang out with them—the more you will learn, understand, and expand your thinking. Talk to entrepreneurs about their experiences, ask them how they came up with an idea, and what problems they faced; find out who their mentors are. Each time you talk to them, or listen to them—you will learn new things, you will learn a new way to think about startups, a new way to think about life.
Aspiring entrepreneurs get stuck in the dark zone of “I can’t think of one good idea to start”. There is a way out! A business idea is a solution to a problem. To generate ideas, you should think about problems. Ideas are not magical “a-ha” moments. Most successful ideas come from years of deep experience and careful observations. Observe: 1.Problems faced by you (or friends/family) in your day-to-day life. Warby Parker’s founders were struggling with expensive eyewear themselves. 2.Problems faced at work/in your area of interest. Narayan Murthy realised the opportunity at his job at Patni Computer Systems. 3.Problems being solved in other parts of the world. Snapdeal was inspired from Groupon in the US. 4.Problems faced by companies leading the latest trend. Delhivery came up to improve logistics for ecommerce players. Often, you are aware of a problem, but try to look for revolutionary solutions. There are many evolutionary solutions available as well. Think about doing things better (iPhone) and/or cheaper (Micromax). And last, but not least, you have to make ideation a habit. Keep a diary, read, and meet/interact with people.