15 Entrepreneurs Share Ideas on How to Think Outside The Box
Want to be a think tank in your business? Well, it's not always natural or easy to be creative and think outside the box as a business owner due to fear of risk-taking, desire for perfection and clinging on to old ways of doing things. So how do you ignite your creative self and foster that in your team? It's not necessarily hard and can be achieved.
We asked entrepreneurs and business owners how they think outside the box and here are the insightful responses.
#1- Utilising existing ideas
Thinking outside of the box means that I can’t discard any of my ideas. I’m able to come up with new ideas by simply giving value to all of them. Sometimes, the more absurd an idea the better. It just means that my creativity is at its peak. If I start throwing out ideas before I fully think about them, a really good one may slip through the cracks. I turn off my internal editing and speak all my thoughts. A bad idea can always be improved on, which is why there’s no harm in putting them out into the world.
Thanks to Nate Masterson, Maple Holistics!
#2-Change it Up
“This is what we’ve always done” – We hear this phrase all the time. It’s a creative killer and perhaps the most damaging to a business. Embracing change ensures we think outside the box and is essential in keeping up with consumer behaviour. I’ve found a way of doing business that works for us, our formula if you like, but one thing remains guaranteed and that’s change. It happens every day in our industry, technology constantly changes, customer preferences change and hence we change with it. As a business, we regularly hold a ‘Think Tank’ in which we discuss new ideas and new ways of thinking to ensure we stay responsive. Disrupting the conventional thought process and breaking through complacency as a means to think differently has enabled our business to bring to market pioneering products and services, which in some cases have been industry firsts.
Thanks to Simon Barker, Conferma Pay!
#3- Listening to the people and being receptive
In a business, to think bigger, the most important is to be customer oriented. You have to ask: What is my targeted audience lacking? What would create value for them? It may seem obvious but a large number of business owners fail in this. For me, the best way to think outside of the box is as simple as listening to the people around me, being always receptive and creating synergies. Being alone at home or being behind a screen without having contact with the “real world” won’t allow this. The best way to be open to new opportunities is to search for them, this means to be aware of what is going on in the world and interact with people because, in the end, they are who will acquire your product or service.
Thanks to Esther Sauri, Linkilaw!
#4- Observing other industries.
Thinking big starts by throwing out common industry practices and observing other industries. Our company is a niche entertainment company, Board Game Publishing, that is flooded with hobbyists making less than stellar business decisions. We have found the best way to think big is to observe how successful companies in the connecting world of entertainment succeed. Often this isolates us from our peers in the industry, but thinking big requires thinking outside the box!
Thanks to Jacob Way, Deep Water Games!
#5- Turning it all off
Thinking “outside the box” has come to mean, almost the exact opposite these days at even some of the best creative agencies in the world. The ways I have been able to keep my ideas fresh has actually been through quieting my mind at least once per day. I am a long time creative professional who has been CMO at various large companies who were always driving for more hustle, late hours and overthinking problems. It wasn’t until recently that I learned, turning it all off was the best release for new concepts to take form. I started to do daily meditation along with journaling directly after, it is the first thing I do ever morning. Surprising that those short moments ever day realized more great ideas over the last year than hours of whiteboarding or brainstorming could have ever unleashed. I started a company last year in April because of ideas that I had during meditation time, that company less than 1 year later just sold for 27 million dollars!
Thanks to Ryan Lange, SDC!
#6- Several ways
Everyone pushes for innovation, but there is a human tendency to react with fear when a new notion emerges. Out-of-the-box thinking requires that we think in new ways, integrating unique and often foreign concepts, and that we recognize our fear of the unknown. One of the best techniques for doing both is to read broadly and widely.. Add fiction and non-fiction books that are outside your normal area of expertise or research. Read books on quantum physics and nueropsychology. Reading is augmented by time outside. Shift your workout from the gym to walking in nature. Give your mind time to play with new ideas and notions. This seeming downtime will allow your brain to feel creative rather than fearful. Finally, do not share radial ideas in brainstorming sessions. Talk with people one-on-one to expand and refine your ideas.
Thanks to Elisa Robyn, PhD
#7- Learning from big companies
I find that looking at the companies in the big leagues is always the best way to get creative and think bigger. They've been in our shoes but they've grown to the size that they are for a reason, which is why they're a good model. Looking at what it is that these big companies do and adapting it to fit our culture, trade and ethos is an important thing for us. For example, marketing is something that can't be ignored, it's how a business grows and develops and it's how the big companies have made it to where they are today. That's why we invest in marketing and more specifically internet marketing, keeping it regional for now but branching out into the national territories is something that makes sense, ‘you have to master walking before you can run' in a business. Measure when to take risks and when to play it safe. Learning from not only your own, but others mistakes too means that we're able to steer away from the dilemmas that others have been thrown into.
Thanks to Kerry Beeby, Pro Moulds!
#8- Get outside
My biggest tip is ‘get outside'. It can be hard to generate new ideas and get inspiration from the comfort of your own office. I often have my best ideas when I venture outside, either walking the dog or going for a run in the woods. It's during these moments of switching off from the day-to-day tasks and being away from a screen full of data, that new ideas appear, almost out of nowhere as the brain gets some breathing room. I often don't even head out with the intention of coming up with new ideas or a solution to a particular problem, it's just a great by-product of getting outside.
Thanks to James Francis, Direct Mobiles!
#9- Four ways
Discipline: It is easy to get drawn in day-to-day work. Therefore, at Ofri we weekly allocate time to it. It's like doing the chores. Each team member takes 15 minutes from his time to brainstorm wild ideas. Change environment: Each year, we meet for a company retreat, where we dedicate an entire day to get new ideas without restriction. Ideas flow best outside of your comfort zone. We get inspired by the new country, new coworking colleagues, different language. Focus: Normally, after a few weeks we have dozens of great ideas, which don't necessarily are in relation to our niche. We can't put them all into practice. Therefore we vote on the ideas we would like to realise and have the most input on revenue. Test: Whenever possible we try to A/B test the new ideas and keep a close eye if they also work in our niche.
Thanks to Corina Burri, Ofri!
#10-Develop, Test, Learn and Launch
I think outside of the box by following the approach of ‘Develop, Test, Learn, and Launch.' This is where I work alongside my team to come up with ideas for new initiatives. We iterate, develop, test, and launch said ideas. If these out of the box ideas pan out, that's great! If not, it's no biggie. In any and all stages of development, we give it 100% of our hard work and effort.
Thanks to Deborah Sweeney, MyCorporation.com!
#11- Reinvigorate my team
I like to think outside the box when it comes to employee satisfaction. If I didn't have a focused, hard-working staff to help us achieve greatness my other efforts would be meaningless. I like to think of fun ways to break up the work week with activities that give the team a chance to relax. We enjoy recess occasionally where we will go to the park around the corner to play games, we have Nerf guns laying around the office for a little stress relief, and a couple of times month management will surprise the staff with early release on a Friday. We've also recently instituted a work from home once a week perk. These little breaks from the day to day help reinvigorate my team and motivate them to continue performing at a high level.
Thanks to Jeff Pitta, Senior Market Advisors!
#12- Little time to brew the ideas in the shower
Great ideas come from daydreaming, and from not fearing being silly, useless, or crazy. And you gotta give it a little time to brew! My favorite time for that is in the shower. There are no distractions, no cell phone and nothing to see, and I relax the mind with the warm water sensation, empty the mind, and open space for those creative thoughts. They're like little rabbits, quietly creeping in, and easily scared away. I let them in, and watch! Out of many crazy thoughts that come to the mind, I might find something worth developing, but I invite all those thoughts in! It's really like daydreaming. And the more you do it, the easier it gets – soon you're doing it everywhere, even while in a business meeting. And then, just look at each of those crazy ideas, and ask yourself: does this one spark joy?
Thanks to Claudia Hoag, Story My Brand!
#13- Delegating, networking and educating your mind
Growing up my family had a Mexican restaurant, when I grew up I started growing the business. The restaurants were family-run and it was hard for my parents to go on vacation because they did not trust their team. When I started taking over and getting more responsibilites, I quickly realized you have to trust your team in order to go BIG. You have to be a master at delegation, that means delegating to the correct person. Building a winning team is what has allowed me to go onto my next venture Picante Primo Hot Sauce. In order to get my hot sauce to the next level or any business you must also be a master at networking. When you surround yourself with people who have the same ambition as you great things happen! Not only must you be around the same people but your brain must also be constantly fed. In order to think bigger, educated your mind constantly. I set a side 30 minutes a day to read, visualize and be thankful for all the opportunities, hurdles and events in my life because those events will shape you to think bigger and be bigger!
Thanks to Stephany Gomez, PIcante Primo Inc.!
#14- Go against the flow
Entrepreneurship is a state of mind. When setting up a business, in order to succeed, I often had to go against the flow and make decisions that seem irrational to others. It was this attitude that made me able to break restrictions and barriers that stood on my way. You see, if you think in a simple way- you get to the same point everyone else does. And that means, whatever you do could be done by everyone else. So we try to focus all our efforts on innovative solutions in our strategies and problem-solving. If there is a path that's never been taken by anyone, we will follow it. Do we always succeed? Of course, not. But thinking outside-of-the-box and taking a risk will let us explore, learn and take us a step closer to the right solution. So we forget about the usual schemes and long-trodden paths, an find the courage to undermine ideas that others will take for granted. One who wants to do something will find a way; one who doesn't will find an excuse.- Confucius said, and I couldn't agree more.
Thanks to Kuba Koziej, Zety!
#15- Think 10X
A mental exercise, inspired by Grant Cardone, is to think 10X. This means to think ten times bigger than you are now. What would it take to get there? Who would you need to hire, which systems need updating, what processes do you need to put in place now to facilitate the growth. By thinking 10X, you'll force yourself into thinking much bigger than you are today.
Thanks to David Ciccarelli, Voices.com!