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Good grief, not more ideas?

Making idea creation part of your SOHO fabric 3/15/01 SOHO Synapses Good Grief, Not More Ideas? Dek: Making idea creation part of your SOHO fabric By Joe Farace

College isn’t the place to go for ideas.
-Helen Keller

A few weeks ago, I tossed out a few ways about generating fresh ideas for your small business, but they were far from the only ways that open-minded SOHOers will find new, better, faster ways to operate.

One of the best ways to get new ideas for increasing profitability and productivity is listening to your employees. The bigger your business gets, the further away you get from actual work. It’s an inevitable part of growth, and sooner or later it becomes impossible to remain hands-on without micromanaging your team and either driving them crazy or onto your competitor’s payroll. True, they may not always have the “big picture,” but they know what it’s like out there in the real world. Even if you don’t use their ideas as offered, there’s a chance you’ll find a kernel you can put into practice. If you do, reward them for these suggestions.

Listen to your clients too; they often know what they want better than you do. If a client likes you, he or she will tell you about products and services they would prefer to purchase from you. It can’t get any more real-world than this, so make time to investigate implementing these suggestions if you can. If you can’t, make sure you let them know why. This requires two-way communications: They must trust you enough to give you new ideas in the first place, and you have to be open-minded enough to consider even their wackiest schemes.

There is also more than one software idea generator out there. Mindjet recently introduced MindManager Business Edition, which is a visual thinking tool that can help you organize thoughts, projects, and presentations. This Windows-based program can link documents and Web sites to help you search and store information that can be used for inspiration and idea generation. On a more basic level, MindManager Business Edition can help with your day-to-day operations, including to-do lists and checklists. You can also use the program for decision-making, sales strategies, and business planning.

Remember that ideas walk through open doors: Start by believing that each new day provides an opportunity to come up with one new idea. Don’t be discriminating about the proposals that arrive at your doorstep or are delivered by employees, clients, or your computer. Even if the “idea of the day” is simply a better way to landscape your yard, don’t toss it out. Make a sketch and save it in an idea file or, better yet, a box. The best way to start thinking outside the box is to put your ideas into a box to retrieve at a later time. The wonderful movie “Crazy People” features character actor David Paymer as a man who carries a “hello box” around with him, filled with slips of papers with various ways of saying “Hi!” to people. Use your idea box the same way.

Joe Farace has published thousands of articles and dozens of books related to his many years of experience as a SOHO photographer and graphics artist.

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