blog | 9min Read
Published on September 26, 2022
Ever thought what goes behind starting a business? Does just having a product or service help you start your own business? Well, the answer is no! If it were that easy, wouldn’t every person in this world already have their own start-ups? One may say from the forefront, that starting a business is easy, you just have to have a product that you want to sell. But the number of things that go beyond just the product to start a business, is rigorous and the main hassle.
Out of the million procedures to bring a business to life, one of the foremost things is the ideation of it. Ideation is simply the process of generating ideas including gathering information on ideas and collecting thoughts about those ideas. Ideation is used to make improvements to existing products or services, in addition to generating new ideas and concepts for future developments. It is the creative process of generating ideas through various techniques including brainstorming, prototyping, brainwriting or maybe just sketching.
Why is ideation of a business important?
Often questioned, how does ideation help in the development of a business idea? Well, the answer is: it acts as a fundamental base for every business. For any entrepreneur to start their own business, they need to brainstorm on either one of the existing ideas that intrigued them or think of several ideas, to build onto something unique.
It is just like when you, as high school students, are to decide which subject stream and courses to choose, you brainstorm and think what’s best for your career and future. You don’t randomly hop onto one of those courses, but instead do a wide research and brainstorm in order to choose the best out of the lot.
Similarly, starting a business involves several ideas and brainstorming that leads to a sparkling idea which you feel is a need in the market that will be profitable, and so you use that idea to position your work. Without ideating as to what, how and why you want to start a business, you can never make or achieve goals.
Ideation doesn’t only help start up a business, instead it helps in the constant improvement of the business. If you don’t have a thorough process of ideation, then there are high chances that you are unlikely to see improvement in the business leading to loss of deliverables and customers.
It’s just like saying you started a new trend of thrift business but after that one unique idea of having a thrift store, there is nothing beyond it. Will you be able to sustain yourself and your business in the market? No right? Because there are competitors in the market consequently thriving on new ideas, and for you to keep up in the market you need to keep brainstorming and bringing new ideas to the table.
What do you do with the unique product that you brought into the market? You sell it to your customer. Your customers are the ones who actually buy and use your product or services, so being able to deliver what they actually want is the key to success. Getting ideas from existing customers will not only help you retain the customers that you already have, but it will allow you to transform your products and services into more attractive options for other consumers.
How does one ideate?
A myth that is floated in our generation is that creativity flows amongst only some of us. However, all of us are creative, be it a toddler or an 85 year old man. Creativity is just the thought of creating something which doesn’t pre-exists, or is an innovation to something pre-existing. It is true that creativity can be subjective for every individual, as something that is said to be creative for one might not be for the other one.
As Kriti Thakur said during the Ivy Early Entrepreneur workshop, everyone is born creative in their own manners. You may just not know your creative side yet. So if anyone asks you if you are creative and you don’t know the answer yet, you should say you are still exploring your creativity rather than denying yourself to not be creative. Some ways in which one can ideate and bring new ideas are:
1. Creativity is the key
I believe creativity is an important ingredient required for ideation, along with other skills like vision and ingenuity. Does this mean that you have to be creative to generate good business ideas? I certainly do believe it plays an important role and can’t be done without. The challenge for many people, however, is that they either have little confidence in their inherent creative abilities or don’t have the courage to express and tap into it. The idea generation process is much like the creative process in that we are putting forth something personal to be judged by others. You must have the courage and confidence to submit ideas that others might think are frivolous or ridiculous. It’s appropriate to remember what George Bernard Shaw wrote: “all great truths begin as blasphemies.”
If you are confident, you will be exposed to new ideas and perspectives which will help enhance your creativity skills. They will consciously and objectively influence and feed your creative abilities, and perhaps are one of the most productive ways one can continue to develop their ability to generate great ideas.
2. Constraints drive creativity
What drives you to find your sphere of creativity? It is the constraint. Constraint drives creativity. For example, Imagine a scenario where you are to compete in an inter-house art competition where you have 15 minutes to make something out of recycled materials, and another where the same task needs to be done in 90 minutes. Where would you be better off in terms of creativity? At 15 minutes precisely, because that’s when you have time constraints and want to showcase your best piece. When you are given 90 minutes for the same task, you are usually laid back, losing out on your creativity.
A brain works better and more creatively when there are any sort of constraints held on it. It functions more efficiently and you are able to be more creative and come up with newer ideas. In contrast to an environment where you are free to showcase your creativity with no restrictions, you end up not thinking about it much (in technical terms, stop brainstorming) thereby, ignoring the importance of ideation.
However, the famous quote “too much of anything is equally bad,” also holds true. If one is highly restricted from taking over any task, or coming up with new innovative ideas they end up becoming demotivated and sacrificing on their ideation power. Thereby, missing out on the creativity they possess.
3. Test your creativity in order to generate new ideas
What if you are very creative but don’t exhibit your creativity in front of others? This leads to hindering your confidence and most importantly your creativity. The ideal process for enhancing creativity ideation is by identifying one or more businesses, testing them, and then continuing to develop the idea that has the best possibility for success. Market research and surveys can only help test that creativity to a certain extent. Whereas, the true test of the business’s viability is solely dependent on the customers. While an idea can spark very quickly in your mind too, it is important to see how easy or complex it is. Mostly, all ideas you think that can be easily put out may already exist in the market.
The creation of the business starts with an idea. The process of evolving your idea and concepts may include levels of testing through prototyping, designing and iterations. During this process, one may stick onto their original idea or may even mold and morph into a whole new idea, which never struck our minds as entrepreneurs. Broadly, three categories of business ideas exist on the basis of which one uses their creativity. Considering these three business categories one can help spark their next great brainchild or validate existing ones:
- New: When a firm comes up with a totally new invention or business idea. The word “new” is denotative of something that absolutely doesn’t exist (currently or the past). For example Segway, Artificial Intelligence and other product inventions. It’s easy to confuse a new idea with what is really an improvement or disruption of an existing or traditional way of doing something. Truly new and unique ideas are hard to come by, so don’t get paralyzed by thinking this is the only source of viable new ideas.
- Improvement: this is the proverbial better mouse trap. Most small businesses fall in this category where you take existing ideas and improvise on them by delivering it in a better way, either directly or indirectly. For example: LED lights, virtual handbooks etc.
- Disruption: A new and revolutionary way of doing something. Our modern interconnected world – supported and made possible by the internet – now allows us to completely reinvent, transform and disrupt entire industries. The internet and other technologies are not the only way to execute on a disruptive business idea, but it certainly has. For example: Uber, AirBnB, all e-commerce platforms etc.
Did you notice, even though there are 3 categories of how businesses function in terms of their product, one common thing is ideation. All of these require you to be alert, and crack the code to creativity. Be it a whole new idea or even improvising on something, it requires a lot of research, mind-mapping and extensive ideation process.
What are the best ideation strategies?
Now that we know what ideation means, why we need to ideate and much more, it is important to understand the best yet common strategies businesses use to ideate to thrive for newer ideas. As customers play an integral role in a business, it is necessary to know ways to collect customer ideas. These include:
1. Conducting research
It is essential for a business to con
duct research amongst their customers in order to get the baseline data verified to move ahead. Without understanding the needs and wants of a customer, a business can’t stand alone. There are many ways to conduct research, some of these include; survey, focus groups, experiment groups, polls, interviews etc.
Although interviews can be taken more seriously, and be more specific to each client, it is not very feasible to take many interviews due to several constraints. On the contrary, surveys can be sent to a large target audience, however, can lose its importance at times, as everyone doesn’t take the survey seriously.
Like interviews and surveys every research method has its own advantages and disadvantages, however, it is us as a business who need to decide what best suits us.
2. Asking customers directly
The second strategy is to directly contact customers. Although it is very beneficial and can help receive personalized feedback from every customer, it isn’t the most feasible alternative. Since, people are not willing to answer feedback calls due to many reasons. For being able to receive contemporary feedback, the brand should be able to provide incentives for people providing feedback.
3. Post-action feedback forms
Post-action feedback form is nothing but a form sent out by the business, after the customer has used their product. This is taken in order to get experienced product feedback, which will be more specific and valuable as this will give their real thought about the product. And whether as customers would they give it another chance, or buy it again.
To conclude, ideation plays a vital role throughout the business, starting from its foundation, to improvisation. Without ideation a business cannot sustain itself in the market. By testing and implementing ideation techniques in your organization, you can more effectively tackle the biggest business challenge: Solving the right problem. If you can accomplish that, your company could be the one out of the 10 that sees success. Lastly, ideation doesn’t happen overnight or stand alone. It requires a team, different perspectives, and constraints.
More importantly, it is necessary to understand that no idea is a ‘bad idea’, in fact these ideas that we refer to as ‘bad’ are the ones that lead us to the ‘best idea’ and bring the most success. So if you ever come up with a business idea, be it good or bad, don’t leave it until all stones are unturned, because you never know what will happen next!!