There are no new ideas, blah blah blah...we've all heard that. Ideas don't come out of thin air, they are generally the result of a winding path of connections made between and among things that others might see as completely unconnected....random firings of neurons in someone's brain that never connected before and may never connect again. Which means 1) you should always capture your ideas and 2) don't look to me for valid neurological explanations!
Trends, or (officially), "a manifestation of something that has unlocked or newly serviced an existing (and hardly ever changing) consumer need, desire, want, or value" make excellent stimuli for those who are looking for new ideas, especially since trends themselves are often the result of some freethinking person's connection-making process. And lucky for us, there are many sources for trend information that we can use as creative stimuli by simply asking ourselves, "how can that work in my business?"
For linear thinkers, this would be:
New idea = (Trend info + odd little bits of stimuli from God knows where) incubated in a creative, connection-seeking mind.
So step #1 is to gather information about trends to feed your mind. Here are my 4 favorite trend resources, and why they should be in your RSS reader or email inbox:
Trendwatching.com: Publishes a free trend briefing each month that is full of not just observations, but also lots of good "what does this all mean and what can I do with it?" info. Recent example: Their September trend briefing is a great rundown of tips for trendwatching that shouldn't be missed if you have any interest in trendwatching, of which here is a brief summary:
1. Know why you're tracking trends
2. Have a point of view
3. Weave your web of resources
4. Fine-tune your trend framework
5. Embed and apply
Springwise.com: Trendwatching.com's sister site, employing the same network of 8,000 spotters who scour the globe for new entrepreneurial ideas. These they have helpfully arranged in a free idea database, guaranteed to get your neurons firing on all cylinders. They publish a free weekly business ideas newsletter. Recent example: StuffYourRucksack, which helps travelers know how they can use their excess baggage capacity to bring much-needed supplies to underfunded non-profit organizations around the world.
PSFK.com: At the free level, PSFK publishes a group blog that's one of the most prolific out there, publishing many posts each day. Recent example: GoMoBo text-message pizza-ordering service
StrangeNewProducts.com: This blog hasn't been updated lately, but it's fun to tour their archives. Example: Caffeinated sunflower seeds
So, where do you find info on new trends? And how do you use trends info to add value to your business?