Henry Ford, the founder of the Ford Motor Company that we all know today, once famously said, “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.” While the sentiment of this statement has been widely debated, one thing holds true: real innovation comes from being curious about the possibilities and thinking entirely out of the box.
Fast forward to the 21st century. If you had asked anyone 15 years ago if they would pay to carpool with strangers, most would have scoffed. Yet in the present day, ridesharing is a popular way for people to travel around the world. Just because an idea sounds outlandish at first, there are innovative minds that are exploring and testing the waters to deliver tomorrow’s best startup ideas.
There are two factors at hand here to enable these ideas to flourish. First, people need to be curious. Second, they need to have new experiences that get that creative brain going. When organizations tap into both of these, it becomes a perfect recipe for producing innovative ideas that drive disruptive product development.
Why Is Curiosity So Important in the Business World?
New Ideas Are Valuable
Thinking, learning, and exploring are so important to forward movement in business. They allow us to take the time to fully think through problems in order to find the best solution. This extra time also enables us to see ideas from multiple perspectives. Mulling over the feasibility of a certain solution both helps us cross out all the approaches that won’t work and also gives us more space to find an innovative solution that we might not have come up with if we have rushed to a conclusion.
Curiosity Can Create a Snowball Effect
When one person on your team takes the time to digest information and comes up with questions that take the discussion further, this can positively impact the entire team. Those new ideas can spark thoughts that wouldn’t have come up otherwise. Keep this going long enough, and your team will be able to produce much more interesting work that considers all of the possibilities, as well as takes into account the unique ideas of more stakeholders. Simply put, one curious person can inspire others to follow in their footsteps, and this is always a positive thing.
Companies Benefit from Idea Factories
Companies would become stagnant (or even obsolete) without curious employees bringing innovative ideas to the table. What if Apple never introduced smartphones or subscription services? Do you think they would have grown to be the technology powerhouse they are today? Being open to new ideas and the prospect that some of them might fail is essential to driving both corporate innovation and for individuals who want to generate the best startup ideas.
There are many ways companies can foster creativity. They might create contests, rewarding employees that come up with the most interesting ideas. Or they might create sprints to allow employees to rapidly explore new ideas to determine if they are feasible. Companies that make time for exploration and learning are the ones that will still be relevant in a decade. These innovators create and maintain an environment where challenging the status quo is the norm. Any company that wants to grow faster needs to understand that the act of learning is inherently valuable, even if it doesn’t lead to tangible results right away. The best products weren’t created through rigid processes, they were improved over time by curious employees who wanted to try something new.
Leave More Room for Questions
In order to prioritize challenging the status quo, companies need to normalize inquisitiveness. This goes beyond the typical functional or factual questions by diving into the “why.” Why are we building the product in this way? Why are the features we’re building for this mobile app going to persuade users to switch from a competitor? Starting with “why” is helpful to get deeper into the ideation phase and create the best possible product.
7 Ways to Generate the Best Startup Ideas
Curiosity is especially helpful within corporate settings, but it is even more important for individuals who want to generate the best startup ideas. Here’s what entrepreneurs can do to switch up their approach and start successful businesses.
1. Put Yourself in New Situations
Routines are great, but nothing switches up your thought process quite like experiencing a new situation. When you’re faced with a unique problem, it’s a great opportunity to approach it from several different angles in order to come to a resolution. This could mean attending different industry events, running on a different trail, or trying a new prototyping method for your next mobile app idea. Getting off your typical path presents new concepts for you to process and incorporate into your existing way of thinking.
2. Expand Your Network
Who you interact with will have a big impact on the ideas you generate. Taking the time to meet new people will give you access to different points of view that can help you generate the best startup ideas. With any luck, you might even be able to bounce your ideas off of them to get a fresh take on the direction you’re headed in. You might find these new folks on Meetup, LinkedIn, or at an industry event.
3. Ask “What If” Questions
Being inquisitive is essential to building your curiosity muscle. (And it certainly is a muscle! The more you work on growing your curiosity, the stronger it gets overtime!) When taking in new information and exploring business plans, taking an additive approach is especially helpful. For example, if your business partner wants to create a meditation app, you might ask, “what if we incorporated a step counter and geolocation features into the app so that users can clear their minds while getting some exercise?” Not every “what if” question will lead somewhere productive, but exploring all options will help you make a final decision confidently.
4. Consume New Ideas
Content from business leaders, colleagues, or independent media (just to name a few) can help generate ideas like never before. Assume that there is a wealth of knowledge out there that you haven’t tapped into yet and pursue it relentlessly. Build inquisitiveness into your everyday life by subscribing to interesting newsletters, professionally and personally, get subscriptions to high-quality publications, and set a goal for how many books you want to read each quarter. New content doesn’t have to relate exactly to the concepts you’re exploring for your startup. General management skills, product design approaches, and global news can be three types of content to follow that will spark new ideas. The sky is the limit in terms of the content that will help you come up with one of the best startup ideas.
5. Listen More Than You Speak
There is so much that you don’t know when exploring a new idea. At this point in your learning journey, it’s important to absorb as much information as you can before formulating your own opinion and course of action. Of course, questions are exempt from this approach, as they further your learning. But in general, it is best to seek out experts in the field in order to learn from them.
6. Tune out from Work
Budding entrepreneurs are taught to hustle and work hard to make their business ideas a reality. But working around the clock won’t yield those results. Making time for hobbies, passion projects, family time, and exercise will. This crucial time away from work creates balance and can yield the best startup ideas because you’re giving your brain a chance to rest and focusing on other things that interest you.
We need to rethink our approach to curiosity in order to both create the best startup ideas and innovate from the inside of organizations. New ideas are essential for innovation, so foster an environment and lifestyle that encourages exploration.
How do you work on your curiosity in order to generate the best startup ideas? Let us know by tweeting us @Protoio.
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