One trait setting successful pros from their competition is they are “idea people.” Some of these ideas may be great and some maybe not so great but there always seems to be endless supplies about new directions, new markets, or methods for improving existing ways of doing things. But ideas are ephemeral and sometimes last as long as a gust of wind–then they’re gone.
Small photographic operations live and blossom on new ideas and I think you can practice generating new ideas like you can improve your golf swing with the right tools and preparation Just as good luck is really opportunity colliding with preparedness, generating new ideas for your business can become a daily activity. You can beat yourself in the head with a hammer to come up with ideas, but less drastic methods are better.
Plant the seed, but don’t force it. The best ideas come when your mind is relaxed. Your subconscious is working on the problem when you’re sitting in a comfortable chair just talking a break–something I do in a comfy Queen Anne chair in my office several times a day. Walking is a great idea generator. Every afternoon, I take a three-mile walk with nary a thought in my head but “walking ideas”, as my wife now calls them, often pop into my head and I can’t wait to get back into the office and write them down. The shower is another one of my “idea factories.” Putting your brain into neutral, whether walking or washing seems to allow those ideas lurking in the back of your mind to come to the forefront.
Hardware can help. Instead of dashing back to the office, hoping I’ll remember all of my walking ideas, I take a pocket recorder along to capture ideas when they pop up. (OK, don’t take it into the shower, but you can keep it handy.) I use an Olympus VN-7000; it’s cheap ($29.95) and can store up to 1208 hours of recording time.
Software can help too. Inspiration offers a family of computer program that use idea mapping techniques to help generate ideas. If you’ve been around a while, you may remember the concept of “brainstorming.” Idea mapping is similar but instead of the group required for brainstorming, idea mapping techniques graphically track and visually organize your own rapid-fired thoughts into a useful format. Various version of Inspiration is available for Mac OS and Windows, and you can download a 30 day trial version from their website.
Ideas are out there waiting for you; you don’t need a muse. Just relax and open your mind. Like the legendary baseball players in “Field of Dreams,” they will come.