Life lesson #1: What do you need to do to succeed in business? You need to be inspired.

I wrote this article a couple years ago and thought it was worth posting as my first post on this blog because I still find this very relevant to my success in business.

Not that long ago I learnt an important lesson: know what inspires you. With regards to business there are a lot of books on the topic of motivation, but not too many on inspiration. When starting a clothing company a few years back I began reading lots and lots on business. I read books on leadership, economics, small business, marketing etc. Being the keen student I was I began to follow the rules to success religiously (as they were outlined by the numerous books on the topic). Obediently I developed product workflow, marketed my products, studied my customer, found a niche, and developed the brand. As the sole designer for the clothing company its identity and ‘edge’ was hinged on my design ideas. And then one day, out of the blue, the ideas stopped. I worked harder to come up with new ideas, but it felt like I was squeezing water from a stone. WHAT HAPPENED? I had done everything right hadn’t I?

In short I had lost my inspiration. As I was personally funding the company I began to shop less, focused on redirecting any income I had back into building the company. Shopping less meant I wasn’t buying as many clothes for myself. For me buying clothes inspired me, I would look for a shirt and then start thinking, ‘Oh if only they made it this way, or with a different design’. Ironically the thing that I had stopped doing was the very life blood of the ideas that spurned on the company.

I began to refocus the direction for the company as my ideas for new designs had all but disappeared. During this process I took some time off and started shopping more. Then a lightbulb came on. Ideas began flowing quickly again and I realized what had happened. Fast forward to the present, I have since moved on from the clothing industry, and am working on a few internet related businesses. I have come to the conclusion that for myself inspiration is as important for every business endeavor I work on as is the motivation that keeps driving them. For this reason I am somewhat surprised that there isn’t more written on this topic.

In summary I have learnt that for me to remain successful and creative I must find what inspires me. And then using this knowledge, create situations where I am inspired. For some that might mean taking more time to walk in a forest and for others it could mean simply reading a book or a magazine, whatever it is, find what inspires you and make a point of doing it, it may mean the difference between success and burnout.