Brainstorm your way to a brand new business opportunity

We’ve talked a lot this month about turning your passion into a viable business. What if entrepreneurship is your passion but you just haven’t had your BIG idea yet?

Quote-2Sometimes all we need is a bit of encouragement, resources, time and creativity to work together before that light bulb moment will happen. In this two-part article, let’s explore some activities that will help you determine what type of business you could start up.

Did you know that we can all be entrepreneurs? Sure we can! Sometimes all we need is time for ourselves to find out what we are passionate about.

Here’s a brainstorming exercise to help you get things moving. Let’s start by finding a quiet place in your home/office for a moment of self-reflection.

What you will need for this activity:

  • Pen/pencil
  • Paper/notebook

It’s that simple, so let’s get started

Get comfortable! This exercise is meant to help you relax and give yourself the time to think beyond bills, lunches, events or catching up on the news. Remember there is no right or wrong approach in a brainstorming exercise, especially when you are working on your own plans.

In case you draw a blank, below are a few things you may wish to consider to get your grey matter firing on all cylinders. Make sure you write them down so your mind thinks of more and more ideas (and yes, you have to write them down).

I’ve heard from individuals who say they don’t like to write things down, however putting pen to paper can release your thoughts and allow new ones to flow. You are not accountable to what you have written until it has a start or an end date, so take a deep breath and then dive right in!

Here are some pointers to get you started:

Self-awareness is key

  • What are your hopes and dreams?
  • What top skills come to mind when you think of yourself?
  • When do you have time to dedicate to a venture? (daily, weekly, weekends)
  • Who can you count on from your social or family circle?
  • How soon would you like to start your business?
  • What credentials, work experience or other forms of experience do you have?
  • When you sit down to read a newspaper, book, magazine, or online – what is your top search?
  • Who has inspired you and why?
  • What future do you hope to have for yourself, spouse, and family?
  • When are you most happy?

Understanding your weaknesses

While you may strive to work using your strengths (a combination of experience, knowledge and skillset), you must also take the time to address your weaknesses.

Whatever your weakness may be, you must acknowledge that it exists and seek the right help. It may be through a mentor, colleague or friend. One of the best ways to get the right assistance is to search for a mentor in your field and continually seek guidance as to whether you are on the “right track”, assessing what areas within your character/plans might need improvement.

True mentorship does not happen in a 15-minute chat, and change does not happen overnight. If you are serious about improving yourself, you will take the necessary time and steps. I’ve been lucky to have great mentors in my life who have sharpened my ideas on ventures, projects and my overall direction in life.

What delays or causes barriers to our ideas is generally not related to resources; it is the areas in our lives that are inconsistent to growth.

What are some common weaknesses?

  • Lack of organizational skills
  • Mismanagement of time, resources or skills
  • Inability to listen to others’ feedback
  • Lack of planning and follow-through
  • Believing that your idea is great, without conducting the necessary research

We all need a helping hand and we all can use improvement in certain areas. As a business owner, you are under a microscope. Every day you will need to make a decision that will have a positive or negative effect on branding, website content, human resources – it will all fall on your shoulders! So keep an open mind to learn and take advice on subjects you may not know in their entirety.

As an entrepreneur, you will have the spotlight on you from family, friends, staff and the list goes on. As you start your business and begin to receive feedback from this group and your customers, remember to keep your mind open to feedback. A few suggestions:

  • Do not take it personally
  • Identify the source (and regardless, listen)
  • Take it seriously: if one person identified it, others could, too
  • Address it and continually seek improvement – do it for the greater good of yourself
  • You are a human being and you will make mistakes – however, avoid them as much as possible because when you’re running a business, it may cost you resources

Work through a formal and deliberate process of narrowing

How often have you had to confront situations that you wished you could hide or run from? If you are honest with yourself, there is a memory of a time and place. Always narrow down the issue to the problem you are encountering. Here are some focused statements that will help you overcome barriers when you’re starting a business:

  • If I had to narrow the problem, it would be that…
  • The answer is not… but it is … and I will need to do…
  • We can accomplish… if we start to do…
  • I have encountered this before and solved it by…
  • Others say that this is….
  • Who needs to be involved in this to do…
  • What needs to happen is… and by doing…

After you have thought it through, write it down.

If perseverance is connected to your passion, that’s a bonus! Perseverance is having a consistent perspective that what you bring to the table is unique, valuable and needed – that’s why you think it’s important to start your business. Perseverance will allow you to knock on the right doors and gain opportunities.

The activity above is meant to produce some emotions, so if you get enthusiastic or determine there is more work to be done – that’s a great sign! Once you have identified where you are in your journey, it’s often easier to determine your next steps, such as moving on to your SWOT analysis.

Let’s stop here, as we’ve covered a lot of ground. My next post will provide you with a few examples of ventures you can start from home.

Remember: Creativity never sleeps! Keep your pen and paper handy in case you have further thoughts!


CesarCesar Gomez-Garcia has been with the Canadian Federation of Independent Business for six years. His current role at the CFIB is helping members with their questions on compliance. These questions can range from employment standards to health and safety, as well as complicated red tape situations that small businesses face. His passion is reading and writing about entrepreneurship. Learn more about Cesar via LinkedIn and follow him on Twitter @josuegomezg.

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