Ten Tricks: How to Generate Business IdeasThe ability to generate business ideas comes easily to some people and not to others. You don’t always have the time to sit around and wait for inspiration to strike. Understanding the secrets of creativity can be valuable next time you’re asked to come up with a big idea.

Inc. and Fast Company wrote articles recently on how to get the creative juices flowing and generate business ideas.

Following are ten tricks from both articles for you to use:

Keep a Journal

Write down ideas as soon as they come to you. Whether you keep a notebook, jot them down on a napkin, or put a note in your phone, write them down anywhere you can capture them. This will help you when you need to plug into your creativity.

Look to Your Environment to Generate Business Ideas

Get out of your office and walk around. Sometimes the best way to generate business ideas is just to change your surroundings. People find inspiration in unlikely places so get out and look at things in a new way. This can even be as simple as walking a different route to work, or going to a different place each day for lunch. Change up your routine environment as frequently as possible.

Learn to Question Everything

Harvey Mackay, contributor to Inc., suggests asking yourself “why” and “how” to determine if there’s a better way to solve a problem. Another of his favorites is “what’s missing?”

Sometimes the best way to generate business ideas is just to keep asking questions. Ask yourself, ask your team, ask people unfamiliar with your business model. This will help you unravel gaps in what you do and how you serve your customer. Innovation springs from questioning.

Look for Patterns

Look for patterns when you’re trying to generate business ideas.

For instance, Kate White, former editor-in-chief of Cosmopolitan, began to notice emails from men saying how much they loved sneaking a peek at Cosmopolitan because it was like “having the other team’s playbook.” White took this information and turned it into a profit. It led to the iPad app CFG – Cosmo for Guys.

Take a stroll through your sent email– what questions do you answer most? Ask your sales team what the most frequent obstacles or myths are which they encounter from prospects. Get out in the field and see if you can find trends that will help generate business ideas.

Bounce Ideas Off a Partner

Find someone you’re comfortable with who challenges you and bounce your ideas off of them. With another person, you get two different perspectives which can help turn an OK idea into a brilliant one.

Choose a brainstorming partner that will help you generate business ideas by asking the right (and sometimes difficult) questions and broadening your perspective. Pick someone who has a different perspective as you and isn't afraid to challenge your thinking.

Read Something Different Daily

Try reading a book, magazine, or newspaper that you normally wouldn't read. And don't just stick to non-fiction. Reading fiction is one of the best ways to broaden your perspective and see life from a different point of view.

Often the best way to generate business ideas is just to look at the world through a different window, and fiction can help you do that better than almost any other type of content.

Put Wild Thoughts Out There

One of the great things about kids is they are unafraid to take risks or make outlandish statements. They haven’t been trained to take the safe approach yet. They dream big and take chances.

Summon your inner child and let your absurd and outlandish ideas out. Encourage your team to do the same and generate business ideas without any restrictions. Get all the ideas out on the table and then start digging into logistics and prioritize.


Turn your brain off and stop focusing on work or coming up with something amazing that will impress your team. A tired mind will not generate fresh ideas. If you get stuck, step away and come back reinvigorated and ready to work.

Make it Marketable

Your idea has to be marketable to make money and be successful. Try to look at business with new eyes. Coming up with great ideas isn't magic–it’s about using a process to uncover an opportunity where you wouldn't usually look.

Go Big or Go Home

Colin Cowie, a lifestyle guru and party planner, told White everything he created needed to be a “jaw-dropping moment.” So ask yourself “can I take this further and make it bolder?”

Amateurs sit and wait for inspiration. Business leaders get up and go to work. They understand you aren't born with creativity–it’s something you have to continuously develop.

What do you do to generate new, brilliant ideas?