I tell entrepreneurs they will rarely, if ever, find the basis for a breakthrough in their business or inside their own industry or profession. Breakthroughs come from outside.

You’ll never hear me talk in terms of starting with a blank slate. And catching me starting anything with a blank page is a rare event.

For purely artistic expression, raw, out of the ether creativity may be an essential ingredient. But for commercial purposes, it is vastly overrated. Even if you look at the movie industry, as a ‘creative’ business, when you examine the biggest box office successes of at least the past decade, you’ll find very, very, very few to be original, birthed from the blank slate.

Many have been remakes of previously successful films. Some featured well-established, successful, known characters from comic books, TV shows, or sequel. A movie such as Star Wars is merely a classic western with a shiny new wrapping on it.

Sources to get ‘beginnings’ so you don’t have to begin with the blank page: competitors (they occasionally have good ideas badly executed), comparables (someone selling a totally different product but at the same price point and/or to your customers and/or using the same media you use), news (entering the conversation already going on in the public or prospects mind), old ads (use swipe file of old classics), top direct-response copywriters’ work from unrelated magazines.

Dan S. Kennedy