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Idea Generation in 3 Easy Steps

Ideas are amazing things. If you think about it, they are really the basis of everything. Every business or product that exists was spawned from an idea, and ongoing growth and innovation of those businesses and products are fueled by the continued generation of ideas. In the world of small business, idea generation is imperative for remaining relevant in a competitive marketplace. But, you may ask, “How do I come up with new ideas?”

Many owners chalk up idea generation for “creative people” or claim that there’s no time to think about ideas, but I can offer three easy steps for idea generation.

Step 1: Find the time.
Stop! Before you automatically dismiss the idea that you have a minute to spare, let me give a couple of suggestions.
  • Dedicate your commute time to brainstorming ideas. Turn off the radio. Put your phone on silent. And, dedicate each day of one week to a problem, challenge or area of potential growth. Come up with five ideas on the way into work and five ideas on the way home. Record your thoughts on your smartphone so you can remember them. By the end of the week, you will have 10 ideas to put into action in five different areas of your business.
  • Spend 15 minutes at bedtime “brain dumping” ideas. Keep a notepad at the bedside where you can scribble thoughts, questions and ideas before nodding off to sleep. This is usually when most of us mentally recap our lives anyway – why not jot down your thoughts and ideas to be tackled the next day (possibly on your commute to work)?

Step 2: Research what others are doing.
Why reinvent the wheel? There are hundreds of businesses like yours across the U.S., so do some research to see what services they are providing, specials they are offering, content they are producing (on their website, blog or social media), etc. While you are at it, sign up for a competitor’s e-newsletter – or better yet, find an active business in another market and sign up for its e-newsletter to look for ideas you can introduce in your local market.

Step 3: Call a team brainstorm.
Get the whole office involved – you may be surprised at the ideas that will come from the people who work for your company every day. The key to a successful team brainstorm is focus. Identify a specific topic that you want to garner ideas for – be it a challenge or an opportunity – and be ready to rein in the discussion when it starts getting off base. Also, give your team a heads-up on the topic so ideas can start percolating. Encourage them to do research before the brainstorm and bring a few initial ideas to start. However, the power of the team brainstorm is that ideas will come or be built upon those shared in the brainstorm, so there’s no sense in spending too much time in solitary idea generation.

Kerri Guyton is director of client services at Obsidian Public Relations in Memphis. For more information about how idea generation and PR can help your business, reach out to

Posted: 4/13/2016 2:06:45 PM | with 0 comments
Filed under: Big, Business, Generation, Idea, Ideas, Obsidian, PR, Small

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Your business may be small, but that doesn't mean that your impact can't be huge! The Greater Memphis Chamber's Small Business Council serves to encourage, support, recognize and be a resource to small- and medium-sized businesses in the Memphis area. Here, our talented panel of contributors will present big ideas that could make a huge difference to your small business. And don't be afraid to ask questions ... no matter how small.

Sales & Small Business Ownership
Voss W. Graham is CEO and Senior Business Advisor for InnerActive Consulting Group Inc. He is known by his clients as "a knowledgeable partner who helps our team achieve business growth." He provides practical experience as a small business owner for over 29 years, yet is often engaged with Fortune 500 companies in the development of their people and business strategies.

Public Relations
Several professionals and strategists from the local Obsidian Public Relations firm provide excellent advice on everything from research to media relations to event planning. They believe that all companies, no matter how big or small the company or its budget, should have a public relations plan driving how they manage their relationships with key stakeholders. Public relations is an integral part of doing business the right way.

Human Resources
Joel Myers is a career Human Resources professional, with over 40 years in the field including 26 years in consulting.

Small Business Advice
Tom Pease is a small business owner of an office equipment dealership called e/Doc Systems, Inc. He has also owned a full-line Kawasaki dealership as well as a document shop. He used 30+ years of experience in owning a business to author two books, including: Going Out of Business by Design: Why 70% of Small Businesses Fail and Small Business Survival 101. He also has published 85 columns in The Memphis Daily News as the Small Business Advisor.

Marketing & Public Relations
Lori Turner-Wilson is CEO and Founder of RedRover Company, a sales development, marketing and PR consulting firm. Lori works with companies large and small, from start-ups to mature organizations, to help them improve the productivity of their sales force and the return on their marketing investment. Lori writes a weekly syndicated column for the Daily News, Memphis News, Nashville Ledger, and Desoto Times, among others, titled “Guerrilla Sales & Marketing,” for which she won a 2011 Summit International Award and 2012 International Communicator Award.

Design and Digital Strategy
Founded in 1999, inferno provides brand development, advertising, public relations, design and digital marketing services to clients across a broad spectrum of industries. Headquartered in Memphis with a satellite office in Kalamazoo, Michigan, the award-winning firm produces results-driven work by passionately combining strategic thinking, creativity and culture to ensure the success of its clients. For more information, visit

Labor & Employment Law
Fisher Phillips attorneys are ready to help you take a stand: in court, with employees and unions, or with competitors. Fisher Phillips has the experience and resolve to back you up. That's why some of the savviest employers come to the firm to handle their toughest labor and employment cases. The firm has 350 attorneys in 32 offices, including Memphis. For more information, visit

Since its founding in 2005, Paragon Bank has maintained a solid focus on the community and customer service. For more than 10 years, Paragon has delivered innovative products and financial expertise, convenience, and a deep understanding of what both businesses and individuals need from a ban, in order to provide solutions that make a difference. In the areas of business or personal banking, lending options or wealth management, Paragon delivers cutting edge technology, an experienced team and the most service-oriented staff of any community bank.