Planning your Next Small Business Brainstorming Session

So often, as small business entrepreneurs, inspiration hits us at the most unexpected times. Those moments are magical, aren’t they? What must come next, though, is fleshing out those ideas and putting them into action. That process can feel less like divine intervention and more like pulling teeth. And that’s when you know it’s time to have a small business brainstorming session!

Quality brainstorming is an investment worth making, and it’s one that will positively impact the bottom line of your small business. That’s because all good things — focused target markets, better efficiency, new product ideas — start with brainstorming.

But wait! Before you jump into the conference room with a whiteboard and a few dry-erase markers, pause to consider your goals, your location and who should join you. A little upfront planning will help make your next brainstorming session a successful one.

Here are five tips for a solid small business brainstorming session:

1. Pick a topic (and stick to it).

The most effective brainstorming sessions are focused on a specific goal. If you go in trying to fix, improve or prepare for everything, you’ll likely accomplish nothing. Maybe you want to strengthen your social media presence. And you want to increase sales on a particular product. And you’re almost ready to launch a new service and you’ll need a killer marketing plan for it.

Those are all great goals, and they each deserve their own brainstorming session. Pick the most pressing or the most challenging and start there. Don’t allow the conversation to veer toward other topics, however tempting it may be.

2. Choose the right group.

You can’t brainstorm by yourself, right? Keep the group fairly small and intimate, and be sure you’re selecting diverse thinkers. A small group of about 3-5 people with different opinions, backgrounds and viewpoints will produce a much richer collection of innovative ideas than two like-minded folks. (Don’t forget to thank them all for their time and effort when it’s done! Brainstorming is hard work.)

3. Consider a new location.

Stimulating new ideas is often as easy as getting out of your usual space and into a different atmosphere. A new view has a way of changing your perspective and sparking ideas. That could simply mean moving to another part of your workspace, or it could mean getting out of the building entirely. Choose a fairly quiet space where your group can hang out for a few hours, take a couple of breaks and, ideally, have snacks or a light meal available.

4. Bring in a fresh perspective.

Sometimes the reason you get stuck in a rut is because you’re too close to the challenge you’re facing. A neutral outside facilitator will ask questions you hadn’t yet considered, will contribute new ideas and can keep the conversation on track. Plus, it frees you up to shift your focus from leading the session to actively participating in the flow of ideas.

5. Devise a follow-up plan.

Great ideas without actual implementation is a sad, sad thing. Spend a few minutes at the end of the session deciding how you’ll move forward and who will be responsible for implementing the new ideas or plan you’ve laid out. Outline a timeline for checking in on progress going forward.

So, what do you say? Ready to put on your thinking cap? We can help get you started!

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