At Ideanote, we saw time and again how individuals and teams collect business ideas and decide which ones are worth moving forward with.

Here is what we learned:

1. DON'T start with a problem

There is no doubt that your business should be a solution to the existing problem which is shared by many. However, in order for you to be able to bring this idea to its full potential, you will need much more than that. You'll need to tap into your deepest core motivation.

Simon Sinek argues that every great business starts with “WHY” and not “WHAT”. So, why not save yourself the struggle and start with a WHY now, while you are still at the brainstorming level?

“The WHY is the purpose, cause, or belief that drives every organisation and every person's individual career.” Only after you have done all the necessary soul-searching and singled out your WHY, you can start brainstorming on the problems or challenges which are directly related to your newly found inspiration.

Source: www.startwithwhy.com

2. Ask the right questions

Great breakthroughs start with an innovator that is daring enough to ask the right questions and challenge what others take for granted. After all, an answer is only as good as the question asked. The way you make an inquiry will shape the ideas you receive. So, try to turn your chosen problem into a well-formulated open-ending question.

Here, at Ideanote, these powerful questions are called missions and they act as idea collections.

Now that you know your WHY, the problem you want to focus on and your challenging thought-provoking mission, it’s time to start submitting the actual business ideas.

Here are some extra tips that will help you do just that:

2.1. Start with first principles.

Recently popularized as a go-to approach of Elon Musk, first principles thinking is basically the practice of actively questioning every assumption you think you ‘know’ about a given problem or scenario — and then creating new knowledge and solutions from scratch. By adopting this way of thinking you break away from the limiting beliefs or assumptions that can hold you back.

2.2. Alternate your thinking hats.

There are two types of thinking. When we suspend judgment and assumptions, we get a long list of ideas. A good amount of them happens to be silly and unreasonable. The reason why that happens is simple – divergent thinking.

Other times, the creative process doesn’t produce that many results. Your ideas seem logic, accurate and most of the time culminate in one ‘best’ answer. That means there’s not much space for ambiguity. Such a critical and analytical mindset is called convergent thinking.

In an ideal situation, you are able to switch between the two at the right time.

The key is to avoid applying convergent thinking in this early brainstorming phase. So leave it for the later stages and stick to the divergent thinker in you.

3. Gather Feedback

Feedback is King. So, don’t think twice and tap into the unleashed power of your social capital. We saw it time and again that people are really willing to share feedback and their ideas if you just ASK them. Make sure to gather a diverse crowd of different occupation, nationalities, age, etc. This is a great way to see the weaknesses and threats that your ideas might face or get inspiration for the new ways to approach the problem.

The best part: people don’t even have to be Ideanote users to be able to comment on your ideas. Use one of Ideanote’s features to generate a shareable link to your mission where people can comment and give feedback to your ideas directly. They can do this both on a computer or a mobile device. Easy-peasy.

4. Make your decision

Now that you have the perfect overview of your ideas and feedback all under a single mission. You can make the decision of what ideas should be moved forward.

Remember the two ways of thinking we mentioned above? So now it is time to put on the “convergent-thinking-hat”. Assess the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats (i.e. do the SWOT analysis) of your idea.

5. Take it to action

So, now that THE idea is in front of you. What resources will be required for bringing it to life? Find a way of getting this idea out in the marketplace as a minimally viable product. You’ll cut costs and know sooner how effective your solution really is.