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Top tips: how to brainstorm business ideas

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Here are some top tips, methods and processes to kickstart the creative process and help you develop a winning business idea:


1. Start with “if”

When coming up with the initial ideas, keep an open and curious mind – look at the world around you and observe the unmet needs of people and problems and think about the different ways you can solve this. 


Keep a journal on you or use a tool, such as Evernote, and write down your observations and creative solutions for the relevant market. Invest time and energy into this and dedicate time to developing these ideas. 


In the development process, investigate each idea thoroughly and think about how each one might work in the real world. Build on this process as ideas are eliminated. 10steps2.com recommend taking “the best one of these and write out another list starting with this idea.”


2. Don’t venture into the unknown

Develop business ideas that relate to your expertise because, as Alex Genadinik explains in his article ‘How to tell if your business idea is good’, “it will be very difficult to determine whether various aspects of the idea will work out as you assume. Too many important details will be unknown, and that is quite dangerous”.


3. Combine “Divergent” thinking with “Convergent” thinking

Coming up with viable and interesting business ideas can be especially challenging if you are naturally very cautious. Convergent thinking focuses too much on restrictions, which can result in talking yourself out of any idea you have – or simply creative block. Nurture divergent thinking as this will greatly encourage innovative ideas and solutions.


Adam Montandon from Awesome Department recommends combining "Divergent" thinking with "Convergent" thinking to come up with creative ideas: “By flipping from Divergent to Convergent and back again many times I come up with my best projects.”


By implementing a process where both types of thinking are combined, you will develop interesting and new ideas within scope that will work in reality.


4. Think customer segment, not products

Focus your ideas on the unmet needs of a particular segment rather than coming up with specific product ideas. Entrepreneurs who just seek out to create simply something new for the sake of it being new often ignore consumer needs and end up making something no one wants. 


Mike Fishbein recommends conducting research and thinking about the following questions:

• What are the top 3 challenges you face in your job?

• What are some unmet needs you have?

• What’s the hardest part about being a [demographic you’re serving]?

• What tasks take up the most time during your day?

• What product or service do you wish you had that doesn’t exist yet?

• What could be done to improve your experience as a [demographic you’re serving]?


5. Let your limitations inspire creativity

“Let limitations guide you to creative solutions … Constraints drive innovation and force focus. Instead of trying to remove them, use them to your advantage.” – 37 signals


Embrace the resources you have and don’t let a lack of resources stifle your creative process. Work with what you have rather than consider this to be a disadvantage. 


Do you really need huge financial backing to support your idea? Could you scale back or amend plans? It is ok to start with a small with little financial funding – too much can often stunt creativity.

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