Picture this: Your work life has been humming along for a few years, when things start to feel stale. You need something to jump-start your creativity and get you motivated to try something new.
Business inspiration—the spark that leads to a great idea or energizes you so you can move forward—is often the remedy. There are many different ways to find inspiration, and what works for one entrepreneur may not work for another. So, if you’re looking to tap into your creativity or get your company back on the right track, here’s how—and what you need to know—to start.
The importance of business inspiration
In the business world, inspiration is the process of stimulating your brain so you can reach a eureka moment. You may stumble upon inspiration or learn strategies for finding it—such as researching your competitors, seeing how other industries approach problems, or collecting customer feedback. When you’re inspired, you may be motivated to:
Take inventory about what inspires you—no matter what stage of business you’re in. Once you have a flash, or moment, that sparks an idea—whether hiring fellow moms for order fulfillment or starting a woman-owned business inspired by a famed Maya Angelou poem—it’s time to take actions to achieve it.
Develop a business idea
You may have thought of a few business concepts by identifying problems in the marketplace and ways to solve them. Developing a business idea involves taking the next step: Evaluating whether the idea will generate sustainable income and making a plan to either start your venture, scale your current one, or expand your existing product or service offerings.
Stay ahead of the competition
Once your business is underway, it’s important to maintain a competitive advantage. This involves knowing what your competitors are up to, understanding your customers’ needs, and creating new products and services to address changing demands.
How to find business inspiration
Spending time with your family or doing hobbies you enjoy are some of the everyday potential sources of inspiration in your life. But while it’s also possible to have a sudden burst of inspiration out of nowhere, small business owners shouldn’t wait for it to happen. Instead, be proactive and dedicate time to finding business inspiration yourself. There are several ways to accomplish this, including:
- Finding your niche
- Staying up-to-date with industry trends
- Seeking inspiration at home
- Collecting customer feedback
- Using failure as a learning opportunity
Finding your niche
A niche market is a specialized area your business serves, and it could be a source of inspiration. Even if your business isn’t new, it might be necessary to reassess your niche as competition evolves and grows within your market. Three tips for finding inspire-worthy ideas are:
- Understand your niche. Monitoring the trends, issues, audience, and products that belong to your niche can make you an expert in your field. This will help you establish a loyal customer base and set yourself up as the go-to brand for your market.
- Research your competitors and industry leaders. Determine your main competitors and test their products and services, monitor their online presence, and track how customers are responding by reading their online reviews and checking their social media mentions.
- Identify gaps and potential opportunities. Understanding your niche and knowing how your established or new business stacks up against others can help you identify industry trends you may be missing.
Staying up-to-date with industry trends
Small businesses can’t advance unless they cultivate new ideas. One way to do this is by knowing what’s been done—and where your industry is headed. Use these methods to stay up-to-date and tap your imagination:
- Set up a news feed. Scan trending topics by setting up an RSS news feed or Google keyword alerts. You might find ways your business could get ahead, fill a market gap, or address new demands.
- Attend events. Industry conferences and networking events can help you meet like-minded people in your industry and share ideas, get valuable feedback, and form new connections.
- Leverage online resources. Popular social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok can help you monitor discussions or spark conversations about what your customers want, what your competitors are cooking up, or news related to your industry.
- Sign up for newsletters. These publications can help you keep tabs on specific issues in your industry and what your competitors are doing. Research to pick which ones you should subscribe to, then get on their lists. You can also create your own newsletter to communicate with your audience—potentially stirring up some fresh ideas that way.
Seeking inspiration at home
When you give your mind a break from business altogether—whether it’s for a few hours or a few days—you could come back refreshed and ready to further grow your business.
- Friends and family. In addition to providing you with encouragement and joy, your friends and family can help you understand what the common customer needs. What do your friends and relatives enjoy doing? What are their values? What issues can your business help them solve?
- Community. Volunteering is one way to meet new people, help others, and get away from your company for an hour or two. Research has shown volunteering can even reduce stress and bring joy to your own life.
- A new environment. Your physical space has a surprising effect on your thought processes, and spending time away can improve your productivity and help you refocus on your goals (both business and personal). Consider taking a vacation, going for a walk for a mental break, or setting aside time for a hobby each week.
Collecting customer feedback
Successful people know customer feedback shows what your business is getting right—or wrong—and ideas for moving forward. You can collect feedback through surveys, contact forms, customer service representatives, social media, and even ecommerce analytics. Make a plan for how you’ll act on that feedback. For example, you may decide to improve your services, develop new products, or try other customer retention strategies.
Whether it’s books, blogs, trade journals, or news articles, most successful entrepreneurs read when they’re not working. More importantly, they incorporate reading materials from other industries to broaden their knowledge, discover new ways to solve problems, and learn from history. The best startup books for ecommerce business owners inspire, and help you overcome challenges and achieve your vision. To go a step further with learning, sign up for online classes or lectures.
Using failure as a learning opportunity
Every business owner wants to find success, but it’s important to also remember: Failure is often part of the journey. Most overnight successes, in reality, do not happen overnight. Henry Ford’s first two automobile companies failed, and Steve Jobs was famously ousted from Apple before later rejoining. A good leader knows failure is a natural part of business that can offer lessons or create new opportunities for change.
How to put inspiration into action in 4 steps
- Communicate with your team
- Improve customer service
- Create new products
- Develop marketing strategies
Once inspired, the next step is to transform that into action. You can use your inspiration to:
1. Communicate to your team
Start by communicating your new idea to a small team that can help you carry out the logistics, such as where you’ll source new materials or how you’ll develop a marketing strategy. Carve out enough time to make the plan work.
2. Improve customer service
Take what you’ve learned from customer feedback and train your customer service representatives to provide excellent support. This may include shorter response times, real-time problem solving, or being more empathetic. If hiring new customer service representatives, this process may require writing job descriptions and budgeting new salaries.
3. Create new products
If creating a new product to fill a market gap, write out a step-by-step plan and check in with your team at regular milestones.
4. Develop marketing strategies
Retool your marketing campaign to grab the attention of your target audience in a new way. The imagery, messaging, and tone are important, so be ready to invest in a social media strategy, creative ads, and innovative marketing. For example, Pump Peelz put a twist on the traditional giveaway with its successful marketing campaign asking followers to tag who they would gift a prize to.
This strategy checklist is equally effective for existing businesses and new businesses laying a foundation for best practices.
Business inspiration FAQ
What is the difference between business inspiration and creativity?
Business inspiration is the process of being mentally stimulated, and creativity can be the result of getting inspired. For instance, you might become inspired by meeting new people and learning new concepts at a trade conference. The inspiration allows you to create solutions for a problem your business is having.
Why is business inspiration important for ecommerce business owners?
Ecommerce is evolving, and business owners need inspiration to keep their digital shops fresh. When demands shift, ecommerce owners need to understand how to drive relevant traffic to their websites, position themselves against brick-and-mortar store competition, push visitor conversion, and find the right market. All of this is possible if the business owner can think of creative solutions and change processes when needed.
How can I turn inspiration into innovation?
Innovation is the process of contributing value through a new product, idea, or service. Being inspired is often the first step to innovation, but you’ll need a plan to take a great idea and make it a reality.
Should I be looking for inspiration outside my own industry?
Yes. Inspiration can happen anywhere, so business owners should regularly consider ideas outside their own industry and meet people with different jobs. Someone in a different field is drawing from a different pool of knowledge, and they’re not mentally constrained by some of the known solutions to problems in your field.