Brainstorming how to discover a market for my future business

After I decided what kind of business I should build, the next step was to find a market.  However, I had a problem.  I didn’t know what method to use to find this market.

So I had a one-person brainstorming session.

Over the last year, I’ve read several books on how we think and how to improve the ways we think.  I used some of the techniques that lead to better thinking to design the way I did my brainstorming session – or, at I like to call it, brain-thunderstorming.

By the way, this is a two-day process.

Here is what I did:

General preparation

Here are the things I want to have ready for every session, but only need to prepare one time.

  • I collected the stories of several “non-genius” inventors.  In one study, reading about someone who invented something led to better results of creativity sessions.  However, if the subject was someone like Albert Einstein or Leonardo DaVinci, that didn’t help.  The belief is that it reinforces the idea that a person of typical intelligence can creatively find a solution.  However, going with someone who is a well-known “genius” makes participants feel like creativity is the realm of a few special people.  For this, I found the stories (very short summaries) of several inventors on the Internet.
  • Prepare a list of different lenses (viewpoints) to use to look for solutions.  You could use 3 x 5 cards for this.  Each one has something on it like “How would I find an answer if I had unlimited people working for me?”, or if you had unlimited money, or were trying to solve the problems 100 years ago, or 100 years in the future.  Then, when you start to run out of ideas, you read one of these cards and come up with more ideas.

Preparation

  • Define the topic
    • Include any special criteria

For this session, the topic was, “How can I find a hungry market to develop a SaaS website they’re willing, and capable, to pay for.”  The “hungry” and “willing, and capable, to pay” were the special criteria for this topic.

Pre-session warm up

Before doing a brain-thundering storming session, I want to have my brain in the most creative and focused mindset possible.  Based on what I have read, here is what I did.

  • Ate something.  Your brain needs energy, and that means food.  You obviously don’t want to eat so much that you go into a coma.  However, you do want to have the energy to think, and not get distracted by thoughts of hunger.  So, no brainstorming sessions just before lunch, or at the end of the workday.
  • I spent 10 minutes in a nearby park, just looking at the trees.  Some of the things I’ve read claim that you are more creative when you get out into nature.  I’d really like to do a two-week retreat to a private bungalow, on a beach or in a forest.  Bur for now, I spent a little time in the park.
  • When I got back to my desk, I read one of the brief inventor bios – priming my mind to believe I can find answers to my question.
  • Next, I did an easy Sudoku puzzle.  This is another technique I read about to help your mind believe it can solve problems.  You want something you can complete, but takes some effort.  If it’s too difficult, and you can’t solve the puzzle, then your mind goes into a negative mode where you are less likely to produce ideas and more likely to just give up.  But if you do a puzzle you can solve, your mind receives an affirmation of its abilities.

During the session

Now it’s time to get down to business.  The actual session works much like a standard brainstorming session:

  • Write down all ideas
  • No criticism or editing
  • Think of wild ideas
  • And so on

When I reached a point where I couldn’t think of any more ideas, I used one of the cards I created that has me look at the problem through a different lens.  Then I try to apply that viewpoint to the ideas I already have written down.  That always led to a couple more ideas.

At the end of this session, which took about 45 minutes (not including the time for the warm up actions) I had 32 ideas.

The night after the session

Before going to sleep, I read the list of ideas a few times.  The conjecture is that my mind will work on those ideas while I sleep, which will help with the next day’s session.

The follow-up session

This is a repeat of the previous day’s session – including the pre-session warm up.

This session took about 20 minutes (not including the time for warm up activities) and gave me 8 more ideas.

The Next Step

Now that I have these ideas, I need to evaluate them.

Just as I did when deciding on what type of business, I used my Decision Assistant program.  I’ll talk about that in the next post.

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