Don’t Make This Common Brainstorming Mistake That Leads to Failure

Don't Make This Common Brainstorming Mistake That Leads to Failure

Imagine you’re leading a brainstorming session at your company. You want to come up with growth strategies for your startup, so you gather your team in a meeting room, generate lots of ideas, and choose the most promising one. Many small business owners use that approach, but unfortunately, it often doesn’t work. In fact, it makes your team less creative.

The usual method – where the group generates ideas together – doesn’t work because group members influence each other’s suggestions. Your brain solves a problem by retrieving relevant memories that might lead to a novel solution. When someone else suggests an idea, your mind limits itself to related memories, eliminating ideas you might have considered and impeding the creative process.

An effective group brainstorm circumvents that trap. It includes a four-step process that promotes creativity and independent thought:

Step 1: Think independently.

First, ask each person to generate his or her own ideas before the group comes together.

Step 2: Share all ideas.

Next, ask each person to submit his or her best ideas. Compile them in one document, and then send them to the group via email or a Wiki page. Suggestions that might have been overlooked in a meeting will have a chance to be seen.

Step 3: Review separately.

Before you meet in a group, ask each person to take notes on the other ideas. Have them look for the potential advantages of each idea or solutions to potential problems.

Step 4: Discuss together.

Finally, now it’s time to bring the group in for the brainstorm. Ask each person to suggest ideas that seem the most promising, then debate the pro’s and con’s.

Because each person reviewed the ideas independently, you’ll have a more fruitful discussion. When you do settle on a solution, the group will be more likely to support the outcome.

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How to Brainstorm Breakthrough Ideas for Your Business

How to Brainstorm Breakthrough Ideas for Your Business

It’s also a time to reflect on your business and find the spark for your next breakthrough idea.

No clue what that is? To ignite new light bulb moments, start with these idea-generating tactics:

Embrace fear.

Ask yourself: “What scares me?” Then, explore that dark space. What if you overhauled your product and reintroduced it – what features would it have? Where would you invest money if you replaced a major conference or trade show with other lead-generating activities? Even if something is working for you, is there a way to make it better? As for your competition, instead of studying what they’re doing, contemplate what they’re afraid of, too.

Pull the trigger.

First, state your problem or challenge. Then, gather several unrelated items. The ideas don’t even have to make sense at first. The goal is to find ways to connect them back to the product.

Create a massive matrix.

Gather around, get out your big white pad, and create a huge matrix of all the possible ways that you could address a problem or seize an opportunity. Then, recombine those elements in unique ways.

Take time out.

It’s summer. Take a break from your business, even if it’s just a quick getaway or a weekend disconnect. Rest and recharge to stoke creativity and prevent burnout.

About 40Billion.com

40Billion is the social network of entrepreneurs and crowdfunders – a social platform for connecting people and promoting the things they create. Use 40Billion to find professional contacts and projects, get affordable business advertising, promote a crowdfunding project or campaign, and show off your creations to the world.

5 Networking Tips That Entrepreneurs Need to Know

5 Networking Tips That Entrepreneurs Need to Know

How can you maximize the benefits of attending professional networking events as an entrepreneur or business owner?

1. Have an agenda.

Not all networking events are created equal. It behooves you to research the best of the bunch in your area and decide which might be best for your overall start-up goals. What is your objective for the event? Are you looking to find a cofounder? Are you looking to meet investors? Are you simply looking to get more educated or inspired? Asking yourself simple questions like these before selecting a networking event can help refine your search – and, in turn, get more out of your selections.

2. Work the room.

Consider the law of averages – the more people you meet at one of these events, the greater the likelihood of making networking magic. Spend no more than 5 to 7 minutes per conversation.

3. Take notes.

It’s impossible to remember specifics on every person you meet at these shindigs, so don’t be afraid to take notes. The easiest place to jot stuff down is on the back of someone’s business card. Use keywords to help you contextualize a person’s strengths when you get home and sort through your stuff.

Another option here is to use your smartphone, or bring along a small notebook or pad, for more detailed scribbles – though it’s best to do this in the privacy of a corner or the restroom.

4. Watch what you drink.

Sure, alcohol makes it easier for all of us to meet new people. And, yes, beer and wine are standard at most of these networking events. Still, moderation should rule the day.

5. Follow up.

The most important step in making new acquaintances is following up. Post on social media sites, email, or whatever – just close the loop. You always should follow up with the hosts of the event, too. Organizers frequently have large networks and can connect you with others easily.

What helps you make the most of networking events? Leave a comment and let us know.

About 40Billion.com

40Billion is the social network of entrepreneurs and crowdfunders – a social platform for connecting people and promoting the things they create. Use 40Billion to find professional contacts and projects, get affordable business advertising, promote a crowdfunding project or campaign, and show off your creations to the world.

Are You a Micro-Manager? Here Are 3 Ways to Change

Are You a Micro-Manager? Here Are 3 Ways to Change

Every business owner knows how to wear a lot of hats. When first striking out on your own, you have a hand in finances, marketing, product design, and everything in-between. But as your company grows, you need to empower your employees to feel that same sense of independence.

Autonomy is one of our fundamental human needs – an essential component of a healthy workplace – our need to be driven by personal interest and enjoyment.

Employees that feel empowered are happier, more motivated, more committed to their jobs, and less stressed. The latter is especially true for demanding workplaces since independence gives workers a sense of control in stressful situations.

The benefits for business owners are clear. Consider these three tips to give employees independence without giving up control:

1. Specify the goal, not the means.

To encourage creativity, give clear guidelines for a project’s quality, deadline, and purpose, but leave the rest up to your employees. Your team may not execute the project exactly as you would have, but their strategy may be just as good or better.

2. Set up checks and balances.

As a business owner, you need to be passionate about your ideas, but that enthusiasm can become a liability when there’s no room for second opinions.

3. Know yourself.

As you allow others more freedom and responsibility, understanding yourself can help ease the transition. Try taking a free, online personality test to assess your strengths and weaknesses.

It’s important to understand your own feelings and have a sense of what others are experiencing around you, which is referred to as emotional intelligence. You can then identify what motivates each of your employees and empower them in ways they’ll find fulfilling.

About 40Billion.com

40Billion is the social network of entrepreneurs and crowdfunders – a social platform for connecting people and promoting the things they create. Use 40Billion to find professional contacts and projects, get affordable business advertising, promote a crowdfunding project or campaign, and show off your creations to the world.

4 Affordable Ways to Market Your Business Around Town

4 Affordable Ways to Market Your Business Around Town

Most entrepreneurs spend too much time and money on promotions that don’t generate new business. Whether it is local sports sponsorships, newspaper-ad buys or social media, they waste money on marketing strategies that may boost their egos by making them local celebrities, but don’t actually translate into sales.

Entrepreneurs, especially those relying on customers in their local areas, should first focus on networking with other area businesses, major employers, schools, churches and other organizations. They should network and then create marketing strategies and events that are beneficial to all parties.

Here are some marketing ideas to consider before breaking out the big bucks:

1. Hand shake and business card.

There is this amazing new social networking tool that’s become popular lately: a radical concept called meeting people in person. Whether you’re a business owner or the general manager, make it a point to introduce yourself to at least five people every week. You might be pumping gas or going to the grocery store, but say something like: “I’m Jane Doe, the general manager of Jane’s Pizza down the street. Just wanted to introduce myself. Have you tried us out yet?” If they haven’t, pull out a business card, write a special freebie offer on the back, and sign and date it. Out of the 250 people you might meet over the year, odds are 185 will use your business-card coupon, and about 50 will become new customers. That’s a significant amount of new business with no advertising cost.

2. Cross promote with other local merchants.

It is time for you and your peers to scratch each other’s backs. Provide a special certificate for other local businesses to pass out to customers with a special offer from you – compliments of them. You get your advertising handed out for free, and the promotional partner gets to offer their customers a perk.

3. Make local employees your VIPs.

Got a major employer near your business? Offering a discount to workers who show their name badge seems like a good idea, but often doesn’t work because only those who are already customers take advantage of it. It’s better to persuade the employer to distribute a “VIP card” from your business to each of their workers. Most of them will stick your card into their wallets or purses, and then decide it might be worth it to give you a try. Generally, you should offer something repeatedly for a set period of time to the VIPs – such as 30 to 60 days. A restaurant might offer a percent discount or free desert. A photo shop might price 5×7″ photos as 4×6″ photos. Keep the offer lower than you generally would with merchant cross promotions.

4. Get some bounce-back action.

Ever have special circumstances in which you provide products or services to a group of people who normally aren’t your customers? Maybe you own a restaurant that also caters events. Maybe you own a T-shirt shop, and a big local employer asks you for 200 shirts for a summer picnic. Each of these people you’re providing products or services to could also become individual customers. So besides catering a retirement party, provide each of the 420 guests with certificates offering them each a $15 discount on their next meal. Chances are good that 150 of those 420 certificates will be redeemed and a third of those 150 will be first-time buyers. You might get an average meal ticket of $31. So you still made some revenue and got a chance to impress 50 customers who might turn into regulars. Let’s just say a regular customer provides $1,500 in annual revenue. You might increase your revenue by $75,000 from the promotion.

These strategies don’t take up much time. They cost little. But they generate business. They use a business’s own product as the incentive to drive people in – instead of major media dollars.

Even though there is some cost in products or services given away, the risk is small because people actually have to show up and buy something to achieve the savings. And once they see how great your products or services are, they’ll come back again and again.

About 40Billion.com

40Billion is the social network of entrepreneurs and crowdfunders – a social platform for connecting people and promoting the things they create. Use 40Billion to find professional contacts and projects, get affordable business advertising, promote a crowdfunding project or campaign, and show off your creations to the world.

How to Advertise Your Business to 2,500,000 People on 4 Social Networks for $20

How to Advertise Your Business to 2,500,000 People on 4 Social Networks for $20

Want to spread the word about your business? Did you know you can broadcast your product or service to our large audience across Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and 40Billion for only $20, or as little as $5 a day? Buy a promo ad to broadcast your small business, startup company, product, or service to 2,500,000+ social users on 4 social networks – including Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, and 40Billion – at once.

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How to Advertise Your Business to 2,500,000 People on 4 Social Networks for $20

How to Advertise Your Business to 2,500,000 People on 4 Social Networks for $20

Want to spread the word about your business? Did you know you can broadcast your product or service to our large audience across Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and 40Billion for only $20, or as little as $5 a day? Buy a promo ad to broadcast your small business, startup company, product, or service to 2,500,000+ social users on 4 social networks – including Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, and 40Billion – at once.

For over 4 years, aspiring entrepreneurs and startup companies have used 40Billion for affordable promotion across popular social networks in order to reach more potential customers. Buy a promo ad to get started in just 3 easy steps.

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