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Gideon Best 2019-07-25 Science

4 Proven Ways to Discover Your Next Breakthrough Idea

It all starts with the idea. Google, Warby Parker, Toms and every other brand we've come to know, love and trust were all birthed out of brilliant idea.

The  right idea is the starting point to building a thriving business. It's what solves a problem like none other. For instance, Stripe eliminated a major headache, by making it easy for small businesses to accept online payments.

If you want to create the next breakthrough business, try some of these proven strategies to help kick-start bringing your next big idea to fruition:

1. Take the road less traveled

Great ideas are born out of experience. But not the same ones most of your peers have. Steve Jobs, put it this way:

"If you're gonna make connections which are innovative, you have to not have the same bag of experience as everyone else does."

Research bears that out too. One study from Columbia business school showed that fashion companies produced more creative innovations when their creative directors had spent significant time working abroad in cultures vastly different from their own.

The time away forced their minds to problem-solve and view everyday occurrences with different lenses.

To cultivate innovative connections, ditch the well-worn path the masses are taking. Get outside your comfort zone. Shake up your routine. It can change the way you think.


2. Become an idea machine

According to research from UC Davis psychology professor Dean Simonton, the odds of producing a novel idea grow exponentially when you focus on quantity, rather than quality.


To create a sufficient archive of ideas to pull from, make idea generation a habit. Commit yourself to creating a list of at least ten ideas a day.

The practice of logging the ideas will help you produce a growing supply of viable ones that are worth pursuing.


3. Indulge your hobbies

Many entrepreneurs shelve their hobbies to focus all their energy on their business.

But research shows taking time to engage in activities that have nothing to do with your field can have a profound effect on the quality of what you produce.

In his book, Originals, Adam Grant explained how this has played out repeatedly in his research:

"People who started businesses and contributed to patent applications were more likely than their peers to have leisure time hobbies that involved drawing, painting, architecture, sculpture, and literature."

Letting your mind get carried away in other fields will allow your subconscious to go to work. In time, you will unlock innovative solutions to familiar problems.


4. Get moving

Writers have long used walking and other forms of exercise to help fuel their creative juices. Now there's scientific data to back up why this works.


A recent study from Leiden University in the Netherlands showed that participants who exercised four times a week were more creative than those who didn't exercise regularly. Consistent exercise trains your brain to become flexible in finding creative solutions.

Incorporating movement into your regular routine will help you find them.