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Look Outside Your Business for Ideas

Posted by: Today's Tip Contributor on May 3, 2011

Whether you are looking for new product or service ideas or improvements, new technologies and business processes, or even considering an entirely new venture, important ideas can emerge from a careful assessment of your external environment. Here are some suggestions for conducting an effective search:

1. Start by adopting an external perspective. How would you describe the environment in which your business is located? How would someone outside your industry describe it?

2. What are the trends, needs, or problems that can be identified? Are there changing or emerging needs in your market that didn’t exist even a few months ago?

3. What trends or needs are ignored by others in your industry? How can you try, perhaps on a small scale, to tap into some of these?

4. How much of your time (daily/weekly) do you spend researching your industry and keeping up with changes in your market? Resolve to spend at least 10 percent to 25 percent more time doing that.

5. Find the right balance between intuition and analysis in your plan of action. Gut instincts about future trends and expectations are important to notice. Apply sound analysis before committing resources.

Lisa Gundry
Professor of Management
Director, Center for Creativity & Innovation
DePaul University

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