How to Brainstorm Ideas when you Work for Yourself
Brainstorming is such a simple concept but it can be hard to come up with new, innovative ideas when you work alone. Author and founder of Wonder: An Idea Studio, Carrie Anton is giving us tips from her new book on how to have a productive brainstorming session when you're a solopreneur.
HOW DID SHE GET HERE?
Carrie and her business partner Jessica Nordskog both got their start working with the American Girl Doll Company. Carrie was a book editor and Jessica worked in design, and the two got to know each other by working in the same department and brainstorming with each other. They both left the company with tons of strategies on brainstorming, decided to go into business together, and ultimately had a hard time narrowing down what business they wanted to start.
During this process, they realized that brainstorming is can be difficult when you’re not in a large group setting, and Wonder: An Idea Studio was born. Now they work with small business owners and solopreneurs on how to effectively and productively brainstorm new and innovative ideas. Carrie and Jessica also co-authored a book, Me, Myself, and Ideas: The Ultimate Guide To Brainstorming Solo, releasing in April 2019.
HOW IS BRAINSTORMING MORE THAN JUST MAKING A LIST OF IDEAS THAT COME TO YOU?
You can make a list of ideas all day long, but then you’ll need a list of ideas of what to do with the first list. In order to get the right ideas, you have to ask the right questions. Think of it like talking to a child. Children ask a lot of questions, and usually if you give them an answer, it results in more questions. We have to do the same thing with brainstorming and start asking “why.” So if you have an idea to sell a product, then you’d ask why you want to sell that product. When the answer is “because my audience likes pink,” then you’d ask yourself why your audience likes pink. You keep drilling down deeper into those questions and answers until you have a crystal clear idea that you know your audience needs.
WHAT ARE A FEW THINGS WE NEED TO KEEP IN MIND WHEN BRAINSTORMING ALONE?
Location and mindset are two of the biggest factors for brainstorming by yourself. When you work from home it can be easy to be in your kitchen or your living room, but you want to make sure you’re actually in a spot where you can get inspired, and with little distraction. It can also be hard for us as business owners to turn off our work mode, and you can’t effectively brainstorm in work mode. You have to switch your brain to the calm, relaxed mindset that brainstorming requires, and try to forget about your to-do list for a little while.
Ideas are at the base of everything we do, so the more we have, the better.
WHAT’S YOUR ADVICE FOR WHEN THE IDEAS JUST AREN’T COMING?
When we feel stuck, we usually want to figure out how someone else did something, and get inspiration so we end up taking to social media. It’s better if you can close social media and try not to focus on what other people have done. Instead, ask yourself what would you do in a certain scenario or why something resonates you with. Avoiding social media when you feel stuck is the best thing you can do for yourself.
HOW CAN WE MAKE THE END PROCESS OF A BRAINSTORMING SESSION PRODUCTIVE?
Once you have some ideas that you really love, you have to let it sit and simmer for a while. Most often we come up with ideas and get excited to start moving forward so we do things like buy a domain name and tell all our friends and family, and then we feel stuck - like we have to do that thing even though we don’t love it now.
If we would allow ourselves some time to actually think on our ideas, we’d figure out which ones should actually stick. Usually you’ll brainstorm a list of ideas, but a few days later you can probably only remember 2-3 of them. Those are the 2-3 that you should probably move forward with, because the other ideas weren’t even worth you actually remembering them. Giving yourself time to sit with ideas will weed out the ones that aren’t the best fit.
BONUS! ORDER YOUR COPY OF THE WONDER WOMEN’S NEW BOOK!
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