Wednesday, August 14, 2019

6 Brainstorming Techniques For Coming Up With Small Business Ideas - The Story Exchange

6 Brainstorming Techniques For Coming Up With Small Business Ideas - The Story Exchange


6 Brainstorming Techniques For Coming Up With Small Business Ideas - The Story Exchange

Posted: 13 Aug 2019 09:48 AM PDT

Coming up with a new business idea can be stressful, but you don't have to pull your hair out -- there are ways to keep your creative juices flowing. (Credit: Unsplash)

Brainstorming for a new business can be difficult, but there are ways to keep your creative juices flowing. (Credit: Unsplash)

I have sat and talked with many women who were tired of their jobs and wanted out or had several hobbies that they thought they could make money from but couldn't decide which one to choose. They would often hear, "follow your passion" or "find a problem and solve it."

While sometimes "passion" and "problem" work, there are methods for exploring and generating new ideas. The brainstorming process helps you discover fresh ideas, encourages critical thinking and just flat out gets all the creative ideas out of your head and onto paper.

So, there are a few different techniques that I used with my clients to move them from a cluttered headspace to a clear mind.

[Related: How saying no to big-name cosmetics gave this woman entrepreneur a creative business idea]

1. Mind Mapping

This is one of my favorites. There are many programs online that will help you with the process, but you can absolutely do this with just pencil and paper. You start with a key word, problem or question and then use lines that branch from your subject that are key ideas. Write a keyword on each line and then add ideas that may trigger new thoughts or ideas. Warning! This map could go on forever but it's okay. Let the ideas flow. I have a client who joked that her mind map looked like an EKG.

2. 3…3…3

I have used this with adults and youth, and it is a lot of fun. Start with jotting down three hobbies and three skills. Create a table with your three hobbies on each individual row and the skills across the top on the columns. Think about what type of ideas you can create based on your hobbies and skills listed. For example, your hobbies may be sewing, writing and yoga and your skills are organization, business acumen and communication. You could start a business being a Yoga consultant, designing Yoga clothes or writing a book on Yoga techniques. You should have at least 3 ideas from this brainstorming technique.

[Related: The best CEOs embrace this leadership skill]

3. IF

This technique is similar to just solving a problem. Again, start with a sheet of paper and pencil and respond to the following statements:

It would be great if:

Things would be easier if:

What I can do about it is:

List at least 6-8 "IFs" and see how many ideas you can create in the "What I can do about it is" section.

4. Idea Funnel

Start with a general topic and narrow it to a one-sentence concept. Visually this looks like an upside-down triangle or a funnel. The steps you should follow are this:

  • write down an idea
  • narrow it down
  • tighten it up
  • make it clear
  • state the facts
  • come up with a one-sentence concept

An example of this would be

  • a restaurant
  • a vegan restaurant
  • a vegan fast food restaurant
  • a vegan fast service restaurant
  • a vegan fast service restaurant serving breakfast and lunch
  • a vegan fast service restaurant serving breakfast and lunch for customers on the go.

[Related: The 1 must-have item for letting investors know your idea is the big one]

5. Reverse the Storm

This sounds really crazy, but it actually works in coming up with creative ideas. Start by listing problems. Instead of trying to come up with ideas for solutions, reverse this process and think about ways to cause the problem or make it worse. Once you have a list, then spend time reversing each of those ideas. Don't be analytical or judgmental. Just let the ideas flow.

6. Bounce

This technique is a favorite of mine if there are at least three people involved. One person needs to be the scriber. You start with a keyword and the person next to you says the next word that comes to mind. It then goes back to the next person and you continue to bounce ideas off of each other. The scriber is writing the words down and after about five minutes, pause and view the words written to see if a business idea has been created. If not, restart the session with the word that you left off with OR use one of the words scribed to start a new brainstorming session.

The bottom line with business brainstorming is that you have fun with it. There are no bad ideas in brainstorming. Every thought can lead to a brilliant idea if you take your time and keep challenging yourself. Of course, you want an idea that can be monetized but many profitable ideas started from a crazy idea written on a napkin. Start throwing out your ideas and see what sticks.

Stacey Banks Houston is the Founder of Banks Int'l Group and Chief Launch Coach of RSVP Consultants. She has committed herself to the launch and growth of entrepreneurs over the last 23 years. Stacey is the author of The Passion Plan: Journaling Your Business from Passion to Position to Profit and Seasons of Wholiness: Inspiration for the Seasons in a Woman's Life. For more information, visit www.staceybankshouston.com.

The 6 numbers every small business owner should have on speed dial - The American Genius

Posted: 13 Aug 2019 09:57 AM PDT

As a small business owner, it's easy to feel like you're on your own island. But if you ever find yourself stuck in this mentality for too long, it's probably because you're unintentionally isolating yourself. What you need is a deep network of business services, partners, and contacts to help you succeed.

Regardless of what business you're in, what your budget looks like, or the professional skills you have, it's smart to develop business contacts with as many people as possible. Here are a few contacts you should always have at your fingertips:

1. Lawyer

Most small business owners think, "I can't afford a lawyer!" But the truth is that you can't afford to not have a lawyer. You don't need an attorney in-house – or even need to keep one on retainer – but it's wise to be on a first name basis with a business attorney whom you can call when you have a question or issue.

Not only will this save your rear end, but it'll also significantly lower your stress level.

2. CPA

If you're currently doing all of your month-to-month financial statements, expense filing, taxes, and financial planning, you're not operating at your peak potential. Accounting is important, but it's not something you should do yourself.

By hiring a CPA – whether through an outsourced accounting firm or as a full-time member of your team – you can keep your financials in order and free up your schedule to focus on the tasks that really matter.

3. Notary

You may or may not need documents notarized on a regular basis, but every business owner will encounter the occasional situation where a quick notary is necessary in order to push a project forward. It's best if you have an in-house notary.

It's not very difficult to become an official notary, so you can always encourage one of your administrative assistants to embrace the role.

4. Printing Service

Access to affordable, 24/7 printing services is a must. This enhances your flexibility and gives you the opportunity to quickly produce things like booklets, catalogs, brochures, calendars, and other promotional items.

An online service like PrintingCenterUSA is the most convenient option.

5. Banker

Having a reliable banker is good for a couple of reasons. First off, it gives you access to the right banking plan or package that fits your needs. (This cuts down on costs and ensures proper access to your liquid assets.) Secondly, it helps you with loans, lines of credit, and other financing services that are important to growing and scaling your business operations.

6. Insurance agent

Insurance isn't something anyone enjoys talking about, but it's one of the more integral pieces of maintaining and growing a successful business. Without the right insurance policies, you face higher risk and lower certainty.

By aligning with an insurance professional – preferably a broker who isn't associated with one company – you instantly gain access to all of the best products that are available in the marketplace.

Most importantly, never stop networking.

People often think about business networking in terms of finding new clients and customers. However, it's equally important to network for the purposes of establishing mutually beneficial partnerships and relationships.

Not sure where to cultivate genuine business connections? The answer is everywhere. From structured environments like small business conferences and trade shows to impromptu encounters at the supermarket or in your neighborhood, you're surrounded by opportunities.

If the thought of putting yourself out there and networking with total strangers makes you nervous, preparation is the greatest remedy.

As entrepreneur Alyssa Gregory explains, "One of the best ways to ease any anxiety you may have as you prepare for a business networking situation is by developing an elevator pitch. An elevator pitch is a short description of what you do, who you work with and the value you offer to your customers or clients. The goal is to be able to deliver this 'pitch' in 60 seconds or less, in a conversational way."

"Conversational" is an important word in the larger context of networking. Whether you're building a relationship with an accountant or an investor, you don't want the interaction to feel forced and scripted. Being genuine and relatable is the best approach.

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