Try This Brainstorming Exercise to Come Up with Better Business Ideas

UPDATED: May 7, 2024
PUBLISHED: June 3, 2022
Try This Brainstorming Exercise to Come Up with Better Business Ideas

No idea is a bad idea, business coach Christy Wright says. If you’re struggling to know whether your ideas can develop into a successful business venture, try this exercise:

On a blank piece of paper, draw a grid with six columns. Atop the columns, fill in six S’s: story, skills, strengths, situation, social and solution. In rows to the left of your columns, list your ideas. This is not the time to be picky; list as many as you can think of. If you’re struggling, use the categories as a guide.

Once all of your ideas are down on paper, begin working across the columns and place a check mark next to each idea that fits within the parameters. If an idea only checks one of the six S’s, it’s probably not your best move. Continue this process until you narrow it down to about five ideas that have the most check marks. These are the ones worth exploring.

In her “Business Idea Boot Camp” seminar, Wright walks attendees through this process, offering feedback and then running the best ideas through a viability test to determine how they’ll perform in the market. Here are six of her best tips. 

1. Story

This is your background, the details and the goals of your life that drew you to this idea in the first place. Brainstorm as many ideas from your background as you can. For example, if your grandmother passed down the best gingerbread cookie recipe and you’re considering opening a bakery, then you might be onto something.

2. Skills

This is pretty straightforward. What certifications or credentials do you have? What’s your education background? If you didn’t finish high school or attend college, don’t worry. Starting a side gig doesn’t require an MBA. We’re looking to bring what you already have to the marketplace.

3. Strengths

Maybe you’re a natural painter or have an eye for interior design. If you’re struggling to identify your strengths, ask your spouse or a close friend. Sometimes we’re too hard on ourselves and fail to see the things that we are naturally good at.

4. Situation

This might not always have an answer, but it could. Maybe a local bakery is shutting down, and you’re able to buy all of their equipment and supplies at wholesale cost. Or maybe your youngest child has just moved off to college and it’s simply the right time in your life to explore a business opportunity.

5. Social

This category is for your hobbies. What do you enjoy doing in your free time? What would you continue doing even if you were never paid to do it? Be generous with your answers here. Again, not every hobby holds promise for a side gig, but it’s important to explore every opportunity.

6. Solution

Bring your problem-solving skills to this one. Some of the world’s most successful companies started just by coming up with a solution to an everyday problem.

This article originally appeared in the Summer 2019 issue of SUCCESS magazine and has been updated. Photo by StratfordProductions/Shutterstock