7 Ways You Can Find Inspiration as an Entrepreneur
As an entrepreneur, you’ve got passion. You’re motivated and ready to go. You’ve got gumption, or moxie, or courage. However, you can have all that and still fail to move forward if you’re suffering from a lack of inspiration. Without that spark to ignite you, little else matters. Of course, the mundanity of the everyday can wear on you, snuffing out your inspiration. How do you recapture it? How do you find new inspiration to go another route?
Actually, it isn’t all that difficult. The most challenging part is simply realizing that you need help with it. In this post, I’m going to highlight some of the most effective ways that you can find inspiration as an entrepreneur and keep those inner fires stoked and burning hot.
Talk to Others
I have touched on the need to work with others, to network, and to build your relationships with those in your field and elsewhere in other posts. It turns out the human touch isn’t just important to be a successful entrepreneur. It’s also important for finding inspiration.
Humans are social creatures. We tend to work better in groups. That’s one reason why most scientific advancements are incremental. One scientist makes a discovery. The next one innovates on that discovery. A third one brings his or her own touch. Engineers get involved and take the idea higher. None of these individuals actually came up with the final version on their own, though. It was an ongoing process of iteration and refinement.
This process works for you, as well. Say you have a product, but it’s not selling all that well and you’re not sure why. You can choose to bash your head against the wall, or you can get out there and talk to other people. Get their insights and advice. See what they think about the problem and how you can solve it. You might be surprised at how quickly what seemed like an insurmountable hurdle becomes a thing of the past.
Keep a Journal
How many times have you been lying in bed, drifting off to sleep, when suddenly an idea strikes, or you think you might have found the solution to a pressing problem? You think to yourself, “Wow! That’s an amazing thought. I’ll get on that in the morning.” The problem is that when morning finally comes, you can’t really remember what that idea was.
Maybe it wasn’t while you were falling asleep. Perhaps you were on the ride home from the office, or maybe you were in the middle of grocery shopping. Chances are good that you weren’t actually consciously thinking about the issue at hand, either.
We’ve all been there before. The human brain is surprisingly fallible (we’re not machines). However, that doesn’t mean that you need to let those ideas just evaporate. My recommendation is that you write them down. Ideally, you’ll keep a journal of some sort. A small Moleskine journal by the bedside can help ensure that you never forget that late-night inspiration. A journal in the car or tucked away in your office desk will work just as well. Not into writing in a physical journal? Get one of the dozens of note-taking apps out there and do it on your smartphone or tablet – Evernote, Apple Notes, Google Keep are all options.
Feed Your Brain
If you’re suffering through a long dry spell when it comes to inspiration, the problem might be that you’re not feeding your brain the right stuff. I’m not talking about foods or supplements, although those can definitely help. I’m talking about material that can spark your own passions and get your creative juices flowing. I’m talking about reading.
What should you read? Actually, just about anything can help. I’m a big fan of reading entrepreneurial and self-help books. However, general fiction can be just as good. Even niche genres like science fiction, fantasy fiction, or horror, can be good to get your brain in gear.
Don’t limit yourself to books, though. Read anything you can get your hands on. Find blogs written by thought leaders and people you respect. Check out scientific journals. Read magazines. The more you read, the more you’ll feed your brain and the more inspiration you will find.
Be Willing to Fail
No one sets out thinking, “You know, it would be great if this just didn’t work out. I’d love to fail.” The truth is that we’re failure adverse. We do not want to fail. In some cases, that desire to avoid falling flat on our face can force us to play it safe. We stay in our comfort zones. We never venture far beyond the coast and we avoid the deeper waters where risk is greater.
Here’s the thing – the reward you receive is proportionate to the risk that you take. The old adage, nothing ventured, nothing gained is true. How do you overcome the fear of failure and break out of the mold?
Realize that a single screwup is not going to bring your business tumbling down around your ears. A single mistake is not going to cause you to file for bankruptcy, or turn back to your high school job of flipping burgers. Be willing to think outside the box – look to the horizon and dream about what you’ll find out there after crossing the deep water.
Mistakes are going to happen. That’s actually a good thing. Each mistake is a chance to learn. Each misstep is a lesson. Learn from them and let them inspire you to new heights. You just have to be willing to fail.
Go on Vacation
As I discussed in this post, travel can have a profound impact on you. If you look at most of today’s highly successful entrepreneurs, few of them sit at home. They get out. They explore the world. They travel. You can, too.
Travel has a way of tearing down boundaries in your brain and helping you make new connections. It’s also a learning experience – you’re stuck in another land, where you probably don’t know the language, and you need to find ways to accomplish your goals. That can be incredibly inspiring. Look at the birth of Uber – two friends out at night in a snow-bound Paris without access to a taxi gave birth to one of the most disruptive and profitable business ideas of the century.
Where should you travel? Anywhere is fine. Just go. However, there’s a lot of value in getting as far from your comfort zone as you can. Are you from the American Midwest? Head for the bazaars of Morocco. Are you from the Southeast? Why not hit Sweden? If you’re from California, a trip to Chile might be in order.
Wherever you decide to go, go. Travel. Learn. Grow.
Most of us (entrepreneurs) are at least a little bit perfectionist. We want everything to be “just so”. We want things to be ideal – the product we offer should be polished and ready for prime time before we put it on the market, right?
Actually, that might be part of why your inspiration has fled in the first place. The quest for perfection is endless. There is no such state. It bogs you down and locks your brain into a pattern of thinking that excludes creativity and innovation.
Break out of your perfectionist mindset. Realize that “good enough” often is exactly that. Whatever you’re working on, put it out there. Then, let your inspiration flow. Refine your idea or product over time and based on actual feedback from customers, clients, or end users.
I’ve discussed the benefits of physical exercise more than once, and here it is again. Working out gives you many benefits, but they are not all physical. One of the most important benefits is that you’re able to engage your body in an activity while your brain is free to wander and wonder.
It’s a lot like meditation (which I also recommend) in that it frees your brain to run down different pathways without restriction or censure. You might be surprised at just how many ideas you can have during a single 30-minute workout. Plus, you get those feel-good endorphins flowing, which can up your creativity and boost your mood throughout the day, helping you focus and be more creative.
In the End
Ultimately, there is no reason to struggle with a lack of inspiration. You just need to shake things up. Give your brain new input. Give yourself a change of scenery. Get out there and talk to other people – get their feedback and interaction. Get physical with some exercise. There are plenty of ways to unlock your creativity and passion.
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