Great businesses and projects start with an initial idea. BRAINSTORMING is the process of developing ideas which can be implemented in successful businesses. Occasionally, brilliant ideas can ‘just happen’… but more often, they are the product of a rigorous process. For more on how to brainstorm ideas, read on…
As accountants, we are very encouraged when our clients plan their futures because planning increases the chance of success. A starting point for any planning is BRAINSTORMING which can be an excellent source of new ideas or… a complete waste of time.
Here’s a guide to help you get the most from brainstorming.
What is brainstorming?
First and foremost, let’s go over the basics. Brainstorming is the initial stage in most projects. It’s a creative process that entails sitting down to think about potential ideas.
During the early stages of a project, it’s important to think about the end goal, the problems you’re trying to fix, and potential solutions to those problems.
There are many methods that you can use for this. For example, some people like to make lists, create a mind map, record their thoughts, or even use visual aids like vision boards. You can do this using paper and pens, a whiteboard, or online software like MindMup.
Brainstorming in 5 steps:
The process of brainstorming can be fantastic for generating ideas. For beginners and experts alike, it can unlock your thoughts and help you find imaginative, innovative ideas for a business.
If you’re new to this process, here’s how to get started in 5 simple steps:
1. Explore your business’s purpose
Knowing your “why” is a must for all business owners. This is the perfect starting point, as knowing your purpose will keep you motivated, even when things get tough.
To figure out your business’s purpose, think about what you enjoy doing, what your skills and talents are, and how you can serve others and create something of value.
2. Record and organise your ideas
Next, it’s time to get creative. Set aside a manageable amount of time with no distractions so you can think of some business ideas. In this stage, it’s better to focus on quantity rather than quality – you can filter these ideas later based on their suitability.
If you’re struggling with this, try using different locations or different times of the day. Some people focus better in the morning, whilst some might do better late at night.
3. Do your research
Before embarking on any project, always ensure you’ve carried out thorough research. What is your target audience? What are their interests and problems? This will help you figure out what solutions you can offer and how to make them available.
You should also do some research into your industry. What are the trends? How are our customers changing? How can you differentiate your own business from your biggest competitors?
4. Create a plan of action
Ideas are of no value unless they can be implemented. Developing a plan ‘forces’ you to consider how, when and at what cost you could execute your ideas.
You may find that your ideas are perfectly suited to the next phase of your business. Or you may need to go back to the drawing board. Either way, you are moving forward because part of the process is to eliminate unusable ideas.
For this stage, it’s a good idea to use a “SWOT” analysis, which assesses your business’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. You can write these down, or you can use an online tool like Swotanalysis.com to help you.
5. Develop and share your business idea
The last step in this process is to develop your idea and get it ready to share with others. Give your potential projects a name and a rationale so people quickly grasp what you are trying to accomplish. A visual identity may also help for which you can use a tool like LogoCreator.
Then share your idea and get some feedback. You might want to start with your friends and family, or it could be a business owner, a colleague or a mentor.
Getting feedback after you’ve taken time to develop your idea means you will already be aware of some potential criticisms or weaknesses and you’ll be more confident!
Consider getting your advisors and accountants to participate in your brainstorming activities. Different perspectives and skill sets are valuable and will challenge your ideas in a constructive way.