We all want to build successful and profitable businesses. No one wants to create a boring business, but that's what many people do. We trade creativity and cutting edge for what's safe and predictable. It's easier to stay in a routine than to re-evaluate and investigate better options. Real opportunity, however, doesn't lie in doing what's already been done. True potential exists in exploring the unknown, and real greatness comes from having the guts to face risk and unpredictability. After all, isn't that what attracts most entrepreneurs in the first place?
If we want to maximize our personal and professional potential, it's essential that we indulge the unfamiliar while continuing our business routine. Everything begins as an idea — the microchip, the chocolate chip, the fishing net, and the Internet. Whether an idea is original, borrowed, or bought, it represents the heart of any business through all stages of its life. There's no business if there's no idea. New ideas are what keep us fired up and can be the most fun aspect of owning or operating a business, but how do we uncover and use them for growth?
My life is filled with ideas; some are so good that I'm amazed my brain came up with them, and others are just plain crazy. The crazy ones are often the most exciting! My favorite moment is when a new idea wakes me up at 3 a.m. Sometimes they don't pay off, but others are absolutely inspirational. How can you start to diverge and deepen your well of inspiration?
A good way to start is by connecting with new people. Spend time in diners if your crowd is partial to fancy restaurants. Try broadening your social circle if all your friends are in the hearing healthcare industry. Another great way to expand your horizons is to change the media you use. Experiment by watching five different documentaries, all on completely different subjects. Download diverse authors, writing styles, and genres on your Kindle. Start a new lunch group with four or five people, all experts in various fields. Join a bowling league. Learn something new. Take a class for fun. Growth may come from these new encounters and activities.
I'll be honest; I'm as guilty of staying in the same patterns as everyone else, and I have found this only gets worse as I get older. Humans are creatures of habit, and predictability can produce a sense of safety and security. Have the courage to break out of your routine and reach beyond your comfort zone. You might have a breakthrough or a new idea; if nothing else, at least it may be entertaining.
The creative process always begins with an idea. The more information you ingest, the more likely it is that a new avenue for business, a new hobby, or a new way of looking at life will surface. Tired of living in a predictable world that isn't paying off? Reach for that new idea, explore, and live your life a little larger.
If you're having trouble getting started, consider this food for thought: Social media is where it's at. Start a campaign to get 1,000 friends to join a Facebook page geared toward your business. Create a drawing for a free dinner, and register everyone who adds you as a friend. You can also create a Twitter account, notify your patients, and post threads of industry news each week. Throw a party at a local movie theater with a wireless streamer and preprogrammed aids so everyone can hear the movie in a completely different way. Ask the local media to cover the event, or invite a local hearing-impaired celebrity. Better yet, invite one of the actors in the movie to discuss the benefits of better hearing.
Host demonstrations that showcase new technology. This reminds me of an event that a local golf club holds each spring. My husband always attends and buys new clubs, so it could work for patients, too. Many patients have a local place where they meet with friends for breakfast. Ask if you can share opportunities for better hearing if you pick up the tab for coffee.
Other ideas include creating an enewsletter for your patients through ConstantContact.com or iContact.com, joining an online blogging community like Blogger, and renting a motor coach to visit outlying communities to give educational presentations and demonstrate new technology. This could really be a community happening.
Businesses thrive on new ideas. Bill Gates and Steve Jobs changed the world with their ideas. While a business can survive without the infusion of new ideas, it's more likely to prosper if you take a risk and explore something new. Not all ideas will pay off, but the ones that do can breathe new life into a business.
Speaking of ideas, I need yours! Please send me your ideas for topics for this column at HJ@wolterskluwer.com.