Why brainstorming is good for business ideas

By: Viv Oyolu

Date: 19 October 2011

I am sure you are like me, watching the present series of Dragons' Den, either shouting 'NO!!' at the TV or laughing out loud at some of the ideas presented to the Dragons.

If only someone else had told them before they went on the show their 'business' is really not a business. Better still, they should have sought independent evaluation of their idea before they wrote a business plan. That would have saved them disappointment and humiliation on national TV.

If I knew any of them, I would have suggested brainstorming the idea first before writing a business plan. Brainstorming is about gathering information, stimulating creative thinking, generating and developing new ideas - a technique established businesses have used over time successfully. And if you are wondering what the benefits are for you as a start-up, here are three:

  1. Save money - On Dragons' Den when you hear how much money has been sunk into a business, you cringe. If only they had taken the time to brainstorm, that money - and time - could have been used more effectively.
  2. Identify another 'idea' within the idea - Being so close to an idea can hinder creativity sometimes. And brainstorming is most effective with people 'outside' your circle of friends and family. This is because naturally, and more often, you think and like the same things and therefore are more likely to view the idea in a similar way. But brainstorming with new people (strangers in some cases) can stimulate new ideas because they are looking at the idea from a fresh perspective.
  3. Focus your mind - As start-ups, there are usually a combination of two, three or four ideas to offer potential customers, which is probably not realistic financially or practically being a one-man (or woman) band. Listening to other ideas helps crystallise your idea and gets you to focus on serving a 'niche' market. In addition, you may even stumble on an additional revenue stream.

When you think about it, you'll probably wonder why you hadn't thought about it or done it before. But it's never too late to brainstorm if you decide to; and if you can recruit some volunteers for a session, here are a few things to keep in mind.

  • The objective of the session - identify the gaps (or areas) where you are unsure and look for answers to key questions.
  • Attitude - be prepared to accept what people have to say - the good and the bad. Keep in mind what your overall objective is - to get the best offering to your market.
  • Next steps - have someone record all that's being said on a flip chart, because that's gold dust for evaluating your idea and deciding what next steps to take.

Viv Oyolu owner of Bounce Point