How To Come Up With Business Ideas: 3 Ways To Get Started

how to come up with ideas

“Imagination is more important than knowledge” – Albert Einstein

I wouldn’t describe myself as a completely uncreative person, but one thing that I always struggled with is coming up with ideas. Especially when it comes to naming things or coming up with business ideas. Actually, I didn’t even come up with this domain name myself (thanks Sean).

A few weeks ago I decided that it is time to get over this sticking point. So I picked up a book called The Idea Book. The book opened my eyes. I would recommend it to anyone having trouble coming up with ideas.

Here are 3 ways to come up with more (and better) ideas:

1. Write everything down

That’s the thing that helped me the most. I sometimes had good ideas, but never wrote them down and forgot them immediately.

“It is not a bad idea to get in the habit of writing down one’s thoughts. It saves one having to bother anyone else with them.” – Isabel Colgate

Seriously, write all your thoughts and ideas down. Even if you think the idea is bad, write it down. You might be able to develop your bad ideas into great ideas when you go back to them. Or maybe you can combine them with another bad idea into a great one.
Thomas Edison, the greatest inventor of all time, wrote every idea down as soon as he had it. After Edison’s death, 3500 notebooks full of ideas were found in his home.

2. Force yourself to come up with lots of ideas

The best way to come up with a good idea is to have many bad ones.

“If you want to increase your success rate, double your failure rate.” – Thomas J. Watson, Founder of IBM

Sit down and force yourself to come up with 30 ideas. Yes, the 1st one will be bad. Actually, 90% will be bad. But there is a good chance that some of your ideas will be good. If you found a good idea, try to come up with a few more ideas. Maybe you find an even better one.

3. Where do you come up with ideas?

Chances are, you don’t come up with your best ideas in office meetings.

“No one has ever had an idea in a dress suit.” – Sir Frederick Banting

Find out where you come up with ideas. I get ideas in the shower or sitting at the beach with a notebook and a pen. Other people get ideas while walking or running. Do more of that. I’m going to take a shower after I finish this post, to think about a project.

What about you?

I’m still no expert in coming up with ideas. What about you? Is it easy for you to come up with ideas? How do you come up with ideas? Are there any good books on this subject? Any tips?

Featured pic by brunkfordbraun

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

The Dame June 23, 2010 at 6:29 am

Great post! I come up with ideas all the time, big business ideas that I dont have the drive or capital to make happen so Ive thought about starting a membership site to sell them to people who do. Most of my ideas come to me as Im falling asleep or are inspired by bad marketing or lack of something in the market.


David September 29, 2010 at 1:22 am

Thanks for your comment! Another part to the whole thing is not just coming up with ideas, but actually implementing something. That’s more important then just having ideas.


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