Small business brainstorming in Fall 2023 is about allowing your thoughts to flow. It’s inspiration without the stress of overthinking. Seasoned, new, older, and young entrepreneurs develop serious ideas out of simple brainstorming sessions using these proven techniques. This autumn, fall back in love with your business!
The rule is that there are no rules.
You’re looking to generate ideas. Innovative ideas. Practiced brainstorming techniques generate creative ideas.
It’s not just an exercise. Coming up with ideas and small business solutions comes from effort. Successful brainstorming yields fresh ideas, new thoughts, and the type of ideas that we can’t always come up with as part of our regular business planning session.
Know what brainstorming isn’t?
- Brainstorming is not complicated unless you want it to be.
- Brainstorming is not structured in any particular way unless you want it to be.
- There is no right or wrong way to generate fruitful ideas.
Work alone or work with your tribe.
~ Your village.
~ Your peeps.
~ Your posse.
~ Likeminded others.
~ NON likeminded others.
Encourage people to share their thoughts and ideas. Capture various thoughts about new business or revitalized business from a mastermind too. Maybe a business leader. Maybe your next door neighbor! Maybe the retired guy who sits on a bench at the park or drives the bus. Young entrepreneurs should give props to family heroes and mentors!
You want someone who thinks differently and continually pushes back. Find people who are disciplined, undisciplined, cross-disciplined.
Find them in person, on the phone, virtually, via social videos, on a podcast, in writing or another visual way. Innovation in your business starts with an idea.
Ideas can come to you in literally any absorbable, useful form.
Gather information. Gather thoughts. It’s part of a productive brainstorming process.
Entrepreneurs – especially young entrepreneurs – may work alone but should not work in a vacuum.
No matter how smart you are, you have lived as you have lived, learned what you have learned, and you do not know it all.
It’s not that you can’t make a decision and want someone else to do it for you. It’s part of the brainstorming process and coming to your necessary conclusion.
Brainstorming encourages critical thinking.
Find inspiration in unexpected places.
At unexpected times.
From unexpected people.
From unexpected experiences.
From an unexpected view.
Move your entrepreneurial body!
Walk away and come back.
Entrepreneurs know that Sticky Notes Rock!
When inspiration hits, jot it down.
Keep sticky notes (and a pen), tiny notebooks (and a pen), giant notebooks (and a pen) and journals (and a pen) within reach.
By your bedside, in your car, your pocket, your pursue, your carryon, on the kitchen counter. Capture your brilliant ideas and thoughts worth contemplating later.
As a forever-developing mastermind, you want to Use Your Words!
My son ‘hated’ reading assigned books in elementary school and was taken to task regularly by frustrated teachers. He didn’t understand the purpose and didn’t buy into the explanations of opening his mind, developing his ability to know and think and develop his vocabulary. He didn’t understand why stories developed those skills vs. reading anything else. As a young child, he felt strongly enough to verbalize this and push back.
His point was that he DID read. He read instructions. He read manuals. He read snippets and threads. He turned out to be brilliant and learned differently. He only wanted to read what mattered to him, and even at a young age, it worked. He now chooses books he believes are worth his time. He’s well-spoken, and expresses himself easily and articulately.
My point is not to disobey the school curriculum, teachers, or professors for the simple sake of making anything and everything political or just because. My point is that we do learn differently. This was his experience.
Obtain your words and your learnings from however best fits you and learning style, but get them!
- Arguments and online debates.
Last but not least, get them from your family & friends. Those you agree with, disagree with, who have a special skill or talent, those that deserve their moment to share. Learn from lives well lived. Learn from those making choices worth understanding even if they are different from your own. Learn from generations past and generations coming up.
Not to get preachy – but it’s far too easy to blame. As an entrepreneur, ownership is already part of your core being.
Young entrepreneurs must appreciate the gifts of the older generations and vice versa.
Question. Question yourself, the right people, the wrong people (who might turn out to be right people) and everything and anything.
Challenge your own assumptions
Challenge those of others
Prove you didn’t know it all.
Prove you did.
Questioning gets back to being open. Why question what’s related AND unrelated? You may uncover a byproduct or create a line extension that opens up a totally new market. If you aren’t uncovering new learnings and questioning assumptions, you won’t see the opportunity!
Have you ever heard of the mind map called the starburst approach?
This simple, visual mind mapping technique literally points you in different as you build out the starburst through asking questions such as who, what, why, when, where, and how.
You might start by asking, “who will buy” your product.
Or you may have multiple questions. Or your first starburst may start with only “how” or “why,” leading to multiple starbursts that will eventually tell your story.
How will you make the product? How can you ship it? How could it ever turn a profit? How will you create reach?
Choose whatever shape you want. Choose a line. Do whatever but just do it.
Mind mapping techniques often illuminate hidden gems.
Try a little improv! Act it out.
Be your customer.
Be 15 different personalities.
Make it a game.
Spend Time In Your Customer/Client’s Shoes
It’s a mistake to analyze and make decisions solely from your own perspective.
I observed 3 focus groups intended to back a brand manager’s decision to launch a 2nd flavor of a medication. The first focus group unanimously chose the alternate flavor. They repeated the test thinking it was a mistake. Focus group #2 and then #3 also unanimously chose the alternate flavor.
The brand team launched the flavor they wanted anyway. It flopped. It was removed from stores within months.
The best ideas will resonate and attract your target market. You are vying for a share of their wallet. Why will they choose you?
It’s important to ask them.
Sometimes the best way to understand your customer is to be your customer. Try walking in their shoes and making decisions they make every day. What about your product, your process and their need leads to a purchase and will keep them coming back? Improv. Play devil’s advocate too.
Nothing is off the table.
Nothing is wrong.
No thought is rejected.
Brainstorming is NOT
Brainstorming is about no one “knowing right away what ideas will work and what will not,” no matter who tells you otherwise.
That mindset is not ready for brainstorming. That mindset is ready for teaching and demonstrating, which is fine, but not brainstorming.
Someone with all the answers has no need for brainstorming. If they know it all, pretending to accept new ideas is insulting, does not instill trust and is a waste of everyone’s time.
I don’t agree with that at all.
DO instill trust by being truly open to all ideas. Someone is only part of the session if they are heard and heard in a comfortable manner. In writing. As a picture. In colors. In music. Silence speaks volumes as well.
Revisiting your business plan.
Map out your plan. Set your SMART goals, and GO.
As entrepreneurs we are particularly good at getting our creative juices flowing but take it a step further. Make a business decision to create an environment that supports trying to come up with solutions and generate new ideas as a normal part of every day.
Bounce ideas off everyone around you. Some of your best ideas come from bouncing and debating!
The best ideas will come from new perspectives and creative breakthroughs come from an environment that encourages team members to share every idea – even bad ideas can lead to flip side. Brainstorming is simply being open and gathering these many ideas and thoughts in order to move your process forward.
Entrepreneurship and productive brainstorming sessions go hand in hand! You got this.