How To Brainstorm Ideas for a New Company or Startup

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published June 1, 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Brainstorming for a new company or startup can provide focus and increase innovation. Regardless of the area of business, brainstorming is useful for ideating unique solutions for consumers or other businesses. Brainstorming can be a valuable asset when creating a company or startup, but it's important to understand the components and steps of good brainstorming to do it effectively. In this article, we define what company brainstorming is, explain why it is important and provide steps to brainstorm for a new company or startup.

What is company brainstorming?

Company brainstorming is a creative process where a group of individuals gather with a problem in mind and think about how to fix it. Brainstorming allows for creative thinking and encourages collaboration to generate innovative and actionable solutions, as well as thinking about where and what the focus needs to be. Company brainstorming might also include thinking about what competitors there are, what solutions they offer and how to provide more appealing solutions to consumers.

The three components of good brainstorming are:

1. Quantity over quality

This references the concept that a high quantity of ideas leads to quality because the ideas get combined, refined and further developed by your team. Brainstorming all ideas and refining them later is also helpful for providing many options and pathways to a solution. When brainstorming as a team, it is helpful to write every idea or solution that comes into your head to consider all ideas.

2. Withhold feedback

Using feedback after the initial idea generation and collection process benefits ideation. Judgment-free brainstorming spaces that withhold feedback can produce better results. If everyone in the brainstorming space feels comfortable expressing any potential solutions, more ideas can emerge. Feedback can wait until after the initial brainstorming process to ensure creativity and idea generation flow freely.

3. Combine, improve and feed-forward ideas

Once a team brainstorms and generates ideas, they can identify connections between ideas. These connections are useful to combine ideas that might complement or benefit each other. Doing this allows the best solutions to emerge through the collaboration of problem-solving ideas. When combining or improving ideas, feed-forward can help provide actionable suggestions for how to strengthen ideas.

Feed-forward differs from feedback because it focuses on providing actionable solutions or suggestions for how to improve ideas, rather than pointing out flaws and giving no direction. Using feed-forward can help you take ideas a step further by rethinking them during the combination or improvement process.

Related: 15 Brainstorming Exercises To Generate Ideas

Why is company brainstorming important?

Company brainstorming is important because it allows people with different perspectives to collaborate and develop innovative solutions. These solutions may address a company or startup's marketing or product offerings. Doing this also promotes team building between employees and different teams within a company or startup. Another reason company brainstorming is important is because it engages individuals in critical thinking and prompts them to think and rethink potential solutions to problems.

How to brainstorm ideas for a new company or startup

Here are some steps to consider when brainstorming ideas for a new company or startup:

1. Identify the focus area

The first step to brainstorming ideas for a new company or startup is identifying the focus area. A specific focus area can make it easier to determine what solutions a new company or startup can offer. To identify a focus area, individuals may consider where opportunities are in the current consumer market. Doing this may require referencing consumer and market trends but can be useful for selecting a focus area with many opportunities for a new company or startup.

Related: A Guide To Conducting Market Research

2. Consider and determine the target audience

After identifying a focus area, it's important to consider and determine who the target audience might be. Considering and determining who the target audience is for a new company or startup can be helpful for understanding who the brand and solution are targeting. Almost every company or organization uses target audience identification because it provides consumers with experiences that feel personalized. This information can create informed target audience user personas for reference throughout the brainstorming process, which are useful for humanizing target audiences and determining what solutions you may need to engage them.

Related: How To Find Your Target Audience

3. Empathize with the target audience

Once you identify your target audience for a new company or startup, you can empathize with them about what their needs might be. One way to empathize with target audiences is to examine how competitors address and offer them solutions, as well as how they perceive competitors. This inquiry may come from a competitor and consumer analysis, which might then develop user journey maps to highlight where consumer pain points are in the current market. This information is useful for determining where a new company or startup may address aspects of the user journey that competitors are not addressing.

When empathizing with the target audience, it's also critical to consider the user experience and interactions they may have with the company or startup. For example, deciding whether a solution is in a familiar format or an unfamiliar format. Your team can create sketches of what these experiences and interactions may look like in the initial brainstorming process.

Related: What Is an Empathy Map? Definition and How To Use It

4. Define the problem space

Once the focus area and target audience are clear, you can define the problem space for a new company or startup. Defining the problem space means creating a statement to identify what solutions need to focus on addressing. To do this, you can make a list of the things the company or startup must address and combine them to make the statement for the problem space. This statement is useful to reference during the brainstorming process to guide critical and creative thinking.

5. Ideate solutions

After identifying the foundational information and focus for your new company or startup, you can begin solution ideation. There are many strategies for approaching solution ideation, including design thinking. Design thinking includes methods like:

  • How might we: This method focuses on introducing brief questions to prompt critical thinking. For example, a new company or startup's problem space might be museums are not engaging to young children. Then a how might we question to prompt critical thinking can be, "How might we redesign or rethink museums to be more interactive?"

  • Saturate and group: This method focuses on taking every brainstormed solution and grouping them with similar solutions and then voting and selecting the best-brainstormed solution in each group. Combining and refining a selected idea helps to produce an innovative and unique solution for a new company or startup to offer.

Another way you can ideate solutions is mind mapping, which is a visual web of ideas to represent how tasks or operations link to a central topic. For example, the central topic might be the problem space and the visual web of ideas may represent potential solutions. If you combine potential solutions, you can also show those relationships in the visual web of ideas. Free mind mapping tools can be useful for this process as well and act as a guide.

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