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How to Cultivate a Culture of Ideas in Startups

The Huffington Post The Huffington Post 20/10/2015 Jose Vasquez

2015-10-19-1445282848-2647201-01BuildBrandBlastArticleHeader.jpg © Provided by The Huffington Post 2015-10-19-1445282848-2647201-01BuildBrandBlastArticleHeader.jpg Ideas are what drive startups forward, so it's on you to create a culture that favors the creation of those ideas.
If you're an entrepreneur, you already know that ideas are one of the most critical factors for your eventual success. The core idea of your business establishes a foundation for your organization, and other ideas about your structure, approach, and new additions give you the potential to increase your momentum. The trouble is learning to develop those ideas--you obviously can't force them, and if you try to grow a business without them, you'll likely find yourself stalling out.
If you want a reliable stream of ideas for the foreseeable future, the key is to get everyone in your organization creating them. Good ideas can come from anywhere, so the more people you have cooking up ideas on a relatively constant basis, the better. So how do you create a culture that values those ideas?
Give people more freedom for personal projects
Give people more time to pursue their own personal projects and hobbies--doing so makes people more creative, more passionate, and more open-minded. Google is famous for doing this, and some of their greatest innovations (like Gmail) have actually been developed as extensions of these employee pet projects.
Encourage everyone to participate
Whether it's in meetings or just open discussions, encourage everyone to participate. Hire people who you know aren't afraid to speak their minds, and call people out if they aren't participating actively enough. Your goal should be having each member of the team bring up new thoughts and ideas on a daily basis.
Never write off an idea
This is crucial to keep people motivated to bring things up; never write off an idea completely. If an idea doesn't look like it's going to work out for a certain application, that's fine, but never insult or discard an idea completely. Every idea is valuable, and your employees' willingness to bring up those ideas is even more valuable.
Reward the best ideas
Offer incentives and rewards for the best ideas to come up; this will encourage others in your group to mention theirs. It doesn't have to be monetary, necessarily, but it does have to be public and significant (i.e., more than just a pat on the back).
Put these practices into place, and soon your startup will become an idea-generating machine. Keep your team going, implement the best ideas, and before you know it, you'll have a clear path to the top.
Bio:
Jose Vasquez is a serial entrepreneur and tech enthusiast dedicated to helping startup technology companies get the direction and momentum they need to succeed. As the founder of Build. Brand. Blast., Jose has established a collective resource for tech entrepreneurs to consult when brainstorming, creating, launching, or expanding a new business. Jose is also the founder and CEO of Quez Media Marketing, a marketing firm that combines technology and creativity to help new and growing companies get the results they need.
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