All of us get creative ideas from time to time. Most of them go by the wayside since we often lack the time to explore them for possible development.
But when you get a great idea that might help your business, hold onto it while you try a few things to see if the idea holds merit. If so, you may be able to save thousands of dollars for your company. Here’s how to brainstorm your new idea:
- Write it down. After mulling it over in your head, jot down the basic idea and list the main features. Then create lists of pros and cons. Keep your list going for a few days, and adjust your lists as new thoughts come to mind. It may take a while for the idea to gel, and putting thoughts into writing can help you keep current with its evolution while managing the thousand other details of a busy day.
- Try an exploratory exercise. Create a web of development by placing the main idea in the middle of a piece of paper within a circle. Then draw lines stretching out of the circle that looks like sticks. At the end of each, write a subpoint about your idea. For example, let’s say that you want to hire a part-time employee to handle some of your routine tasks, such as contacting new customers and writing orders over the telephone. So at the end of each stick, you list these duties as benefits to be derived from the hiring idea. But you also must consider the negatives. So at the end of more sticks, you circle potential negatives like “cost,” “dependability,” and “training.” From each of these circled areas, you can extend more sticks, each with its own subpoint, until you fully explore all the pros and cons of your idea in this web-type structure.
- Discuss it with a trusted friend. Contact someone you trust, like a close friend or family member, to talk over the idea. Sometimes merely expressing it in a conversation will help us sound out its strengths and weaknesses. Your friend may quickly notice things you did not, and be able to point these out as you explore the topic together.
- Let it sit a few days. Put your idea aside for the rest of the week, and try not to think about it too much. If something important strikes you, write it down, but otherwise, think about other things. Then return to your notes and see how they sound from a fresh perspective. If the web now appears confusing or balanced to one side or the other, you may have your answer. If you’re still unsure, you may need to take the next step.
- Consult a small business advisory service. Many communities or chambers of commerce feature a small business support agency with retired executives who can offer free or low-cost advice. Find out if this service is available in your town and discuss your idea with a professional who may have faced similar issues in his or her career. Check the yellow pages for consultation services if small business organizations do not provide this service.
- Browse the Internet. Do an engine search to find information about the particular idea you’re considering. About.com and Howthingswork.com are just two of the information services that may have helpful details about your idea.
Remember that the world’s greatest inventions, tangible and intangible, were created from single ideas born of fertile minds like yours. Don’t give up on your ideas until you fully explore all the ramifications to see if they can help your business grow.