The Secret to Finding Inspiration (Hint: It’s Not Where You Think)

— April 4, 2019

In 2007, Joe Gebbia and Brian Chesky were sharing a loft apartment in San Francisco. At the same time there was a major conference to be held in the city. They realised that the conference attendees would struggle to find accommodation.

Inspired by the circumstances that were unique to them in the moment, but common in major cities around the world, they acted. Offering strangers the chance to sleep on 2 x air mattresses on the floor, Airbnb was born.

As the Airbnb website states: “Two air mattresses, a thousand dollars, three new friends, and many high-fives later, the entrepreneurs realized an opportunity”.

Airbnb now offers accommodation options in 33,000 cities throughout 192 countries with a valuation of $ 1.3 billion.

Not bad for a company whose inspiration came from a conference and a lack of hotel rooms.

While not every entrepreneur should expect to strike gold in the way Airbnb has, the concept remains applicable to everyone.

Don’t wait for inspiration to strike. Go out and strike up an inspiration for yourself.

I recently spoke to marketer and entrepreneur Neil Patel and put the question to him, ‘when you look for inspiration, who do you turn to? Who inspires you?’ and his answer was not what you would expect.

In Neil’s words, “I believe I can learn from anyone so I keep researching, keep reading, keep talking to people and keep learning…I was talking to a kid the other day and he does magic tricks and he was trying to teach me some new SEO techniques…you never know who you’re gonna learn stuff from.”

The main message we can take out of this is to challenge your preconceived notions. Just because someone has less experience compared to you doesn’t mean they can’t help you come at a well established problem from an entirely new perspective. In the same way, just because an industry is well-established with no obvious gaps in the market, does not mean it is not ripe for disruption.

Questions your assumptions about your business, your industry, your market. This is reinforced by Airbnb co-founder Brian Chesky who says: “Sometimes it takes a fresh pair of eyes to look at a problem and see it as an opportunity, not just the way things are or have to be.”

If you are stuck for inspiration, don’t wait for it to strike. You may end up waiting indefinitely.

Instead, surround yourself with people who challenge your view of the world, of your industry, and of your business.

It is these people and in these situations when you will be inspired. Not because you waited for it, but because you went out and found it.

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Author: Alexander Porter

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