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What Is Brainstorming?
Brainstorming is a creative process where a person or group sits down with a problem in mind and spontaneously contributes solutions to that problem. Brainstorming methods can be as simple as making lists or as detailed as making a mind map. It usually happens during the beginning stages of a project, and its goal is to end up with a large number of ideas to help define the problem and all of the possible creative solutions. You can brainstorm using a whiteboard, online software, or just a piece of paper and a pen.
3 Techniques for Effective Brainstorming Sessions
- Go for quantity. While brainstorming, you may feel yourself wanting to focus on only a small number of ideas—try to resist this urge! Coming up with as many of your own ideas as possible will help you unlock new avenues of thought, and you can keep building off of your old ideas to come up with better ones for even better brainstorming.
- Don’t judge the ideas. Creativity can be severely dampened by inhibitions; when you’re worried about the quality of every idea you have, you often won’t be able to generate enough ideas to really explore your imagination. For truly effective brainstorming, let yourself think freely and go wild—save the judgments for later.
- Brainstorm in a group of people. Where possible, try brainstorming with at least one other person. Everyone’s minds are a little different, and bringing a few team members in to offer ideas from different perspectives is often the best way to explore ideas you wouldn’t have come up with during individual brainstorming.
6 Steps of Brainstorming
The brainstorming process is the perfect way to generate great business ideas—for business experts and beginners alike—because it’s all about creative ideation and problem-solving, and it avoids putting limitations or restraints on your thoughts. If you want to start a new business but you’re not sure what kind of business model to use, following a few brainstorming steps can help you unlock your imagination and find just the right brilliant idea for a successful business.
1. Brainstorm Your Purpose
When brainstorming ideas for a business, a great starting point is to find the thing that will keep pushing you forward, otherwise known as your “why.” Why are you doing this? Why is it important?
There are three pillars of a business’s purpose:
- What you enjoy doing. You want your business to focus on something you enjoy—otherwise, you won’t enjoy running it. This can go beyond business and encompass hobbies and types of activities, like “telling a story.”
- What you are good at in life and at work. Ideally, your business should take advantage of the skills that you’ve already developed—whether that’s something as job-specific as coding or as universal as listening to people. You may not have the most experience in an industry, but think about this: Are you a person who knows a niche intimately for another reason? Might the people making products in a specific industry not have your unique ideas and knowledge about those products? You may know more about what you want to make than all of the people who are already making products like it.
- How you want to serve the world. The best way to come up with this list is to ask yourself what pain points you’re aware of—what is the unmet need that you can fill. If you’re having a hard time answering this question, consider making a log of every product, design, or process you come across that bothers you, and then offer a few solutions. During this process, it’s vital that you outline your potential customers, as well—who will you be serving, and how? Knowing your target audience and target market will help you further define your purpose.
While you’re brainstorming your purpose, you should constantly ask yourself “why”: Why doesn’t a certain product exist? Why isn’t a rudimentary task done in a more efficient way? Why hasn’t any product or service within a specific space evolved in a while?