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Brainstorming Small Business Ideas

Do you need some creative ideas for your existing small business or for creating a new one? Try one of the many techniques for brainstorming your own. The following is one of the fun ones.

Brainstorm Small Business Ideas by Turning Things Upside Down

"Turning things upside down" is a technique that can be used to generate truly creative ideas for your business - big or small. Your mind tries to make sense of whatever you put in front of it, so what you will put in front of it is ideas and approaches that have been turned on their head and seem a little crazy. Then you'll find a way to make them not so crazy.

Suppose a man has a bookstore. To use this technique he would start by making a written list of how he currently does things in the business. He would also add to the list any assumptions and plans he might have considered trying. Then he would look at each item to create an opposite or "upside down" alternative. He would play with that idea for a couple minutes to see what ideas it suggests, and then move on to the next item on the list.

For example, on his list he might have written "people come to the store to buy books and magazines." He formulates an opposite idea, like "books come to the customers," and plays with it a bit. The idea of selling his books online and shipping them to customers comes to mind. Its not as new idea, but he hasn't looked into yet, so he decides to explore it further.

It occurs to him that although everyone else selling online is shipping their books all over the country, local delivery could be a fast way to get books to people in town who didn't want to come to the store. It might be as cheap as a dollar per book if he had enough sales each week and ran a delivery route three times weekly. Books get to customers even faster than they do from the usual online sellers, and they can return them locally if necessary, without the need to repackage and ship. It isn't an entirely new idea, but it might work in this form.

The owner also put on his list: "We can buy comfortable chairs and lamps so customers can relax," "People buy books to read," "We sell books," and similar things. He feels silly writing down some of these self-evident facts, and some of the opposite ideas they suggest seem silly too. Nonetheless it's a powerful way to get out of the box with his thinking. He finds that he has a lot of interesting small business ideas using this brainstorming technique.

For example, "Buy chairs and lamps," becomes "Sell chairs and lamps," which seemed like an odd idea for a bookstore at first. But he decides that he might generate a decent extra income selling things readers would like and use. "I sell books," becomes "I buy books," which suggests several possibilities.

One idea it gives him is to buy used books, paying only with credit. This could keep customers coming back and supply a secondary used book store he could set up. Again, it isn't a new idea, but it's new to him. "I buy books," also gives him the idea to display any self-published books on a consignment basis. He would have no investment except space, and these writers might send family and friends to his store to buy their books, or just to see them on sale.

Turning upside down the idea "People buy books to read" he gets the seemingly crazy, "People read books to buy." This rearranging of the words in the sentence is one of the ways to do this exercise. But where could he go with that idea?

As I said above, our minds try to make sense of things no matter how illogical they seem. His mind quickly had the idea of a book that held the reader's attention, but also promoted a dozen other books - books he would sell in his store of course. Such a book could be sold cheap or even given away free as part of some contest or promotion. Customers read and then buy something more based on the ads in the book. ""People read books to buy" may not be such a silly idea in the end.

Try turning things upside down for ideas.


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