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Brainstorming For Dummies

by Meg · 8 comments

There are three things I know:

  1. There is no crying in baseball
  2. There are no bad ideas in brainstorming
  3. If you combine brainstorming and crying, then you might want to take a baseball bat to your brainstorming partner

Okay that last statement was fairly aggressive and uncalled for… but the takeaway here is that a brainstorming session can be either a positive experience to generate business ideas… Or it can turn into a snark-fest at the drop of a hat – Especially if you are a married couple.

Tony and I recently decided that we are going to start a business while we travel and we are going to share with you our strategies, attempts, and failures along the way.

Our first priority in starting a business is of course coming up with an idea.  And this, my friends, involves lots of brainstorming.

Luckily, Tony and I came out of our three weeks worth of business brainstorming sessions with 210 awesome, ugly, and whacky business ideas…. with our marriage still intact.

How did we do this?

Here are 5 tips to follow to make sure your brainstorming sessions stay positive and effective.

Brainstorming Tips And Tricks

Establish ground rules

Before starting your brainstorming sessions, discuss with you partner what you would jointly like to get out of the sessions and setup rules.  Whether it’s a ‘no judging’  rule or a ‘no farting’ rule, discuss your wants and needs of the sessions before you begin.

Set goals – And STICK to them

Tony and I wanted to get aggressive with our brainstorming goals.  As such, we never set a timeframe to our brainstorming sessions, but instead, agreed that we HAD to come up with 10 business ideas a day before we ended a session.  No matter how tough some days were to come up with ideas, we decided we would do this for 21 consecutive days.

By doing this, we were forcing ourselves to think outside of the box and dig deep to discover original and fun ideas.

Conduct your brainstorming sessions in a welcoming atmosphere

During your brainstorming sessions, you want your ideas to flow freely, so make sure you are in an environment that is conducive to that.

Tony and I were in Croatia during our brainstorming sessions and found that sitting outside at the local beach bar during sunset was an excellent place for our business jam sessions. But if you are not as lucky as us and are stuck in cold Boston, that’s okay.  Just pick a place that both you and your business partner enjoy and feel relaxed at.

Sidenote: Occasionally (and moderately of course!) adding alcohol into your sessions can really help your brainstorming juices flow!

Free yourself from distractions

Turn off your computer, iPhone, iPad, iWhatever and FOCUS on your ideas.  If you and your partner are free of outside interruptions, you will find that it is much easier to accomplish your brainstorming goals.

Remember that no idea is a bad idea

This is where the whole saving your relationship (or marriage) thing comes into play.  Never criticize an idea of your partners. Heck, one of our ideas (Poop Palace) revolved around selling high-end toilet products.

NOTHING should be off limits in a brainstorming sesh! No eye rolling, no laughing (unless it’s laughing with your partner, not at your partner), no mocking…

….. and absolutely no baseball bats!

If you establish a judgment-free zone, you will be able to confidently throw your bold ideas out there.  Who knows, one of them just may be a winner!

Next Steps

Once you have conducted your brainstorming sessions, come up with a tangible action plan in order to take your ideas to the next level.  Action plans vary depending on your goals, but just make sure they are concrete and achievable.

Our Action Plan

At the end of each week (or 7 days) of business brainstorming, Tony and I sat down with our 70 business ideas and picked the 20 most promising ideas to move forward with.  We have just completed three weeks of brainstorming and now have 60 decent ventures to pursue.

We divided these ideas up evenly and will spend the next several weeks researching each idea to see if it is a potential project for us….

… Stay tuned for our favorites!

Your Turn: Do you have any experience with formal brainstorming sessions?  Was it a positive work experience or a negative one?  We would love to hear your stories and personal tips so please share them below in our comments section!

About Meg
Exhausted from traveling every week as a Business Management Consultant early in my career, I took a year off in 2012 to travel at my own pace. I am a high-energy girl that loves being active, eating food, drinking wine, and exploring the world with my partner-in-crime (and husband), Tony! I now reside in Portland, Oregon and continue to write about travel, food, wine, and the awesome adventures we have in the Pacific NW!

photo by: khalid Albaih
JR June 12, 2012 at 6:36 am

what discipline both of you have. I love the way you approached this exercise with passion and commitment. You can just tell by the way you wrote the article that you two had fun also while doing the brain storming. Good luck as you conduct your research and continue to refine your list. BTW, Poop Palace sounds like something I might be interested in :)

Meg June 12, 2012 at 8:39 am

Thanks JR! I think Poop Palace was weeded out of the top 20 list but we may have to put it back on if there is interest! 😉

Edna June 12, 2012 at 8:32 am

That plan sounds like it was both dedicated and hilarious. If Poop Palace is any indication, I cannot wait to see what else you guys came up with!

Meg June 12, 2012 at 8:41 am

Glad you enjoyed Enda! People are loving Poop Palace… This may have to be investigated further! haha

Leanne Pittsford June 13, 2012 at 1:44 am

LOVE THIS! Can one of your future posts be “How to do a double date brainstorming session via Skype with your favorite independent location couple friends.”

Meg June 13, 2012 at 4:37 am

Love it! Just think of all the pow wows we will be able to have in Berlin in a few weeks… So excited!!

Kipp June 14, 2012 at 1:44 pm

I think drinking during a brainstorming session is a great idea because you get to see how your ideas change as you get further into it. Just remember to write down your ideas… I swear I’d be rich already if I always did that.

How about brainstorming your passions and trying to make a business out of them?

Meg June 15, 2012 at 8:10 am

Red wine is our preference to any successful brainstorming session – it is such a magical potion! And yes, writing our ideas down is a must… especially if a lot of booze is involved!

We are thinking of some biz ideas around food and wine/beer… We are pretty darn passionate about that if you couldn’t tell 😉

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