At some point, every entrepreneur wishes he or she had the creative gusto of an Elon Musk or a Jeff Bezos. While there is no denying their innate genius, part of entrepreneurial success comes from habits and routines that facilitate creativity.
Here are four ways that creative entrepreneurs spark good ideas:
Seek out new experiences.
Steve Jobs audited a calligraphy class in college, which he later credited to be the inspiration for Apple’s beautiful typography. In his 2005 Stanford commencement speech, he explained how he could have never connected the dots looking forward, but the connection was very clear to him looking back 10 years later.
By allowing ourselves to have diverse experiences, we open our minds to think in divergent ways. This opens up new avenues for innovation that may not exist when we focus on only one activity or routine. Find ways to engage your mind in novel ways throughout your week, for example by trying new recipes or taking an art class.
Switch off your brain.
Ben Baldwin, CEO and co-founder of ClearFit, got the idea for his company when he wasn’t even trying to think about work–he was driving down the freeway. Sometimes focusing all your energy on coming up with new ideas may actually inhibit you from thinking up any ideas at all.
In these cases, you might be more successful in shutting down and turning your attention to a more mundane task. When our minds are focused on monotony, our subconscious is able to work in the background, leading to epiphany moments.
Ask your audience.
Recently, after being asked about his plans for philanthropy, Jeff Bezos shared the question with his Twitter followers. He explained he was in search of a short-term strategy, some way he could contribute immediately, which differs from his typical focus on the long-term. Innovation isn’t about who came up with an idea, but rather about executing an idea in a meaningful and deliberate way. By asking people how they might solve a problem at hand, you gather diverse perspectives.
Do more and think less.
When we’re in search big ideas, it can be tempting to poke holes or write off small or less “innovative” ideas that come to us along the way. According to Mark Zuckerberg, good ideas don’t come fully formed. Instead, they evolve as you start working on them–you just have to start somewhere. Zuckerberg explains, “If I had to understand everything about connecting people before I began, I never would have started Facebook.”
Big innovative ideas start as small seeds that you have to nurture and grow. Before you ignore an idea, try pushing it further–write it down, think about how you might build it out or make it more meaningful.