June  2004      Vol. 13, No. 6  REAP HOME PAGE  A publication of the Center for Rural Affairs    
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Learn to Cultivate Your Ideas

How do you get new ideas? This is a question Iíve often been asked, but thereís no one, simple answer.

Flowers and plants grow when the soil is fertile, not hard like clay! So will your ideas grow from your mind when itís open and full of knowledge.

I donít mean only knowledge from school, but from life and observation. Be aware of whatís going on around you and in other businesses. Be a sponge for information and have a big appetite for knowledge wherever you can find it. Learn from others, question why they are doing something different and think of how you can apply it to your business.

Youíll get many ideas daily or weekly and you need to sort them out to find which ones to put into practice. The first thing to do is to write your idea down so you donít forget it. Many times another idea will come into your mind, take over and bump the previous one out.

You need to assess all your ideas, so keep track of them. When you are ready to qualify ideas for a new product or service, ask these questions:

  • Is it an original idea?
  • Is there a specific need for it?
  • Will it be affordable to buy?
  • Will it be affordable to implement?
  • Can it be perfected in a reasonable time?
  • How long will it take to be profitable?
  • How long before it becomes obsolete?
  • How much will it cost to promote?
  • How can I test it?

Donít think that you never get any ideas because you do. Recognizing them and using them is what really matters in your business.

Keep abreast of whatís going on in the business world by reading or scanning all the business publications, journals, and the Internet. If you donít want to subscribe to all of them, most are available at the library.

Your industry trade publications and newsletters will show you changing market trends and give you ideas for using those changes. Believe it or not, watching TV commercials will provide insight to what the bigger companies are doing and give you ideas how you can jump on the trend or counter it.

Make three files for your ideas: one for now ideas, another for later ideas, and a third for questionable ideas. When you have time to try an idea, go to the appropriate file. Learn to recognize ideas and put them to work.

Source: Barry Thomsen, Publisher/Editor, Small Business Marketing Ideas, Colorado Springs CO, 877.700.1322, idealetter@aol.com 
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