Set Idea Nets

Terri Lonier

When you're trolling your subconscious for business ideas, it's important to set the right bait so that the "big-fish" concepts don't get away. Often, it's important to set an idea "net" as well. The reason for this is that frequently you will go off on a fishing expedition to catch one type of fish, only to find that the waters you are in offer another option or opportunity you hadn't considered when you set out.

You've probably noticed that your flashes of insight usually don't occur in an organized, linear fashion. (There are those who believe that linear thinking operates independently of the creative process, and can even hinder it.) Consequently, insights may resist capture in a structure such as an outline. As you're trying to make sense of your ideas, your mind switches gears so quickly that logical development of the idea often is lost. Therefore, I suggest that the next time your ideas start to flow, you set one of these "nets" instead:

1. Mind map.
By mind mapping I mean that you should conduct a free-form brainstorming session on paper. To begin, jot down your main idea in a circle; let your mind wander to the next natural connection, then draw another circle for that thought and link it to the first. The goal is, at the end of your mind-mapping session, to have a map of the meanderings of your mind, which often reveals new ideas and relationships that you hadn't considered previously.

2. Diagram.
Diagramming your idea lets you show the relationships among parts of a whole. This can be a great way to get ideas down while simultaneously indicating the way the components relate to each other.

3. Flowchart.
Similar to diagrams, flowcharting is another way of jotting down your ideas and then watching the relationship patterns emerge from among those ideas. Flowcharts, however, establish a sequence to the movement of the ideas, for a more logical framework.
Each of these approaches is intended to tap into the nonlinear part of your brain -- where those really good ideas are often lurking. Try these out this week to see what ideas you can "net" for your solo business. Next week, I'll be back with four more.

-- Terri Lonier © 2008

This article originally appeared in Working Solo Newsletter, which you can find at the website,

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