Ideation: The Lifeblood of Any Successful Small Business

small business ideation

Your small business started with a single, great idea. But it won’t grow on that idea alone. If you want to stay relevant, you’ll need to keep churning out those great ideas on the regular. That means ideation.

Ideation — defined by Oxford as “the formation of ideas or concepts” — is crucial for any business, but the smaller the business, the more important it becomes.

Giant corporations have big think tanks at their disposal. These people sit around ideating all day long. Thinking up “things” to help grow their company is literally their only job.

The bad news is that you don’t have those kind of resources. The good news is that, with a bit of know-how, you and a few of your most trusted employees can handle the ideation on your own. Here’s how to get started.

Find Your Focus

There is a place for ideation in nearly ever facet of your small business. But trying to ideate everything at once is exhausting, confusing, and ultimately, ineffective.

Instead, pick one spot to focus on at a time. Here are a few ideas:

  • New products or services
  • Redesigned product packaging
  • Marketing strategies
  • Brand identity
  • Sales and promotions
  • This is by no means an exhaustive list, but it’s a starting point. What do you want to create or improve?

Have a Brainstorm Session

Once you’ve decided on a focus point, it’s time to pick some brains. Assemble your newly created ideation team and start bouncing ideas off of each other. There are no rules at this point – anything goes.

Maybe you’re in the breakroom eating pizza and jotting down ideas on your leftover stock of snowmen sticky notes. Maybe you’re all sitting on your respective couches on a group Zoom call contributing ideas to a shared Dropbox file. Maybe you’re sitting around a highly polished conference table in suits and ties as one person documents everything on a whiteboard.

The point is that the setting and formality level of your brainstorm session doesn’t matter. What does matter is that every idea, no matter how good or horrible, is captured for posterity’s sake.

Weed Out the Good from the Bad

Once the ideas have run dry, it’s time to review your snowmen sticky notes, Dropbox document or scribbled-upon whiteboard, and get realistic.

As fun as it was to think about, you’re probably not going to get Tom Brady to hawk your new line of athletic supporters. Also, edible wrapping is perhaps a touch over the top.

Once the unrealistic, improbable and downright horrible ideas have made it to the cutting room floor, the good, great and amazing ideas will stand out. Those are the ones you can start to run with.

From Ideation to Application: Start Small

As a small business, you can’t afford to go completely gung-ho with a single idea, given the resources it takes and the cost of failure.

Experiment with what works and what doesn’t. Test your ideas out on your customers. Eventually, you will hit on the absolute best of the best — the idea that will elevate your small business above the competition.

Think you’re done now? Think again! There’s always something else to create or improve. Ideation isn’t a one-off marketing strategy. It’s a constant process that, done correctly, will keep your small business growing, evolving and succeeding for years to come!

Are you more of a doer than a thinker? Do you prefer to leave the ideation to someone else while you focus on other areas of your business? Let Mischa Communications handle the hard stuff. Don’t wait another day!