Curiosity is Critical for Entrepreneurs
If you’ve got a side-hustle, or a full-time business, curiosity is the key. When we operate our business with a curious mindset, we position ourselves to be a step-ahead in the idea-generation department.
Ideas are the catalyst of innovation.
If your business isn’t innovative, it’s dying. Someone in your niche will gladly take the reins away from you. Curiosity is the beginning of great action.
Our customers want a steady stream of novel ideas and it’s our job to deliver.
Without a steady-stream of curiosity, the novel work will eventually stop. We get comfortable with a certain level of success. And we ride that comfort until business starts dropping. Then, we’re left to scramble after it’s too late.
The power of curiosity will be exponential to the growth of your business. We don’t get to the next level by doing what we always do. We grow by uncovering new ideas.
Be the Other Person
When we empathize with our customer, or the person we want to emulate, it’s more than understanding their position. If we truly want to be creative, we’ve got to be the other person.
- Where do they hang-out?
- Where do they spend their time?
- What do they do for escape?
- What do they aspire to be?
- What do they want to change about their lives?
- What current situation must they escape before they achieve the life they want
When we step outside the wants and needs of our business, and we look through the lens of the customer, or the person we study, we get curious. Fast.
Develop your best work with the customer in mind.
Don’t worry about what you want. There’s a real person on the other end of every transaction. When we switch roles and become the other person, we see our work through a different lens.
This new lens helps us spark new ideas and brings innovation to our business.
Plus, your customers will love you. You’ll contact them and learn how you can help. Your customers will feel heard. They’ll see the change in your marketing.
When your customers feel heard they buy-into your business, not just your product. When we feel heard we create a strong bond with the company. We’re more-likely to do business with them in the future, building lifetime customers.
Lifetime customers are what we’re all about.
Ask Stupid Questions
Meet with the people you serve. Meet with the people you idolize. Ask stupid questions, statements that make you feel small and out of place. Sometimes these are the best questions to spark new, curious ideas.
Your stupid question might be the same one as a hundred other people in your niche, but you were the only one brave-enough to ask it.
What’s the worst thing that could happen?
You lose the respect of the other person. No big deal. You won’t die. You won’t lose money. The upside of stupid questions is limitless. The downside is mostly in our heads.
Plan for stupid questions.
Do your homework before you speak to a mentor or advisor, but plan for stupid questions. Enter the conversation with a beginner’s mind. This is how we grow.
When entrepreneurs go into a conversation assuming we know more than the other person, we do ourselves a disservice. We lose on the collective wisdom the other expert brings to the table.
Go after the situation with humility. Be dumb. Ask stupid questions. This is how we grow our curiosity.
Look at Top Players Outside Your Niche
A highly-overlooked strategy is the ability to look outside your niche. Of course you’re familiar with your direct competition, but success is everywhere.
Who can you emulate in a different niche?
What skills/methods/strategies can you adopt from other industries? Who can you learn from? When you look to other top leaders in non-competing niches, these folks will be more-likely to help you get what you want.
You don’t have a ball in their game.
People naturally love to help.
Look far outside your niche and find top players. Ask stupid questions. Take a curious eye to the process and dig deep. Look for hidden gems you can borrow in your niche.
The competition will never see it coming.
You can’t force curious events, but you can engineer the opportunity to have as many serendipitous events happen as possible.
Schedule a permanent curiosity meeting on a regular basis.
Whether you interview key players in your niche, or you bring together random people you wish to learn from, you expand the possibility of curious moments.
You can’t engineer great ideas, but you can engineer the opportunity for them to happen more often.
Allow your team to spend a certain amount of their working time being curious. When you have a group of people around you who are all thirsty for new ideas (and have the opportunity to collect them), you position your business for growth above the rest.
We can’t innovate in a bubble.
There are no 100% unique ideas. We get our best work by taking ideas from everywhere and putting them together in novel ways.
This is how we grow our businesses, no matter how big or small. We’re always on the lookout for moments to engineer serendipity.
Being curious isn’t enough. We also have to accumulate our findings, so we can act on them later. I like to make sure I carry a notebook with me wherever I go.
In my car I keep a digital recorder.
Sometimes we’re given an idea only once. It’s our job to capture these ideas at the moment we find them. Never assume you’ll remember later. Even the best ideas get lost when they aren’t captured.
The idea you don’t capture today, could be acted-upon by someone else tomorrow.
We need a constant stream of new ideas, and accumulation is a huge part of the process.
Test the waters. Look at your new, curious idea and share it with others. Beta test your idea with your audience.
Run your idea by people close to you, or your team.
When we share new ideas, it helps us solidify the important parts. The instant feedback we get from others will help us recognize if we’re on the right track.
If you want to become better with an idea, teach it to others. Teaching/sharing forces us to clarify anything muddy. You can teach by writing or speaking. You can teach in-person, or through video.
When we share our curiosity, we take an obscure thought, turn it into explainable bullets, and hone the idea into something with teeth.
Sometimes, our best ideas come from moments of fear. When our gut does everything in its power from preventing us to take action, these are the moments to lean-in.
It’s time to get uncomfortable.
Reach out to people who scare you. Ask for favors where you don’t feel you deserve them. When we get uncomfortable we raise the antennas. We become more-receptive to curiosity.
We open our world to new opportunities.
If we want our business to keep growing, we’ve got to get uncomfortable. We place ourselves ahead of the moving train. We push when others pull.
When we get uncomfortable, it’s an inner-barometer that we’re on the right track. It won’t be easy. Most people will run the other direction. That’s why discomfort will take your curiosity to the next level.
Your business will zig while everyone zags.
Discomfort helps train you during the good times, so you’re better-prepared during the tough times. You’ll learn to solve problems faster. You’ll see things that others can’t. You won’t fold at the slightest sign of trouble.
Great ideas a nothing without action. The last step of the curiosity puzzle, is action. The action step earns us money. It’s action that grows our business.
- What the MVP we can ship today, that will satisfy our curiosity?
- How can we test our theory fast, to ensure we move-forward?
- What can you do today, to act on your idea, preventing your competition from beating you to the finish line?
Action is the third leg of the stool.
The faster you take action on your new ideas the quicker you can test them. When we take action we fail-forward. Think of how many more at-bats you can take if you quickly take action on your new ideas.
Learn from your mistakes.
The competition will have no idea what you’ll do next. You’ll be the innovator in your niche, and the leader. You’ll take so many more actions that you improve your chances of finding a winner.
Take action on a schedule basis.
Make a plan to launch a new idea once a quarter. Not every action will be a success, but the accumulation of repeated action will leapfrog the rest of your niche.
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August Birch is an author, email expert, and entrepreneur from Michigan, USA. As a self-appointed guardian of writers and creators, August teaches indies how to make more work that sells and sell that work once it’s made. When he’s not writing or teaching, August carries a pocket knife and shaves his head with a safety razor.