Money Brainstorming Techniques
Many people enjoy seeing and reading about all the different
business ideas that have been tried, whether they were successfully
implemented or not. That's why there are several thousand subscribers
to the Unusual Ways Newsletter (the sign-up form is in
the side bar to the right and on the home page if you haven't
already subscribed). But what if you want to do more than just
read about what others have imagined and done? What if you want
to dream up your own ideas about ways to make money? Then it's
time for a little bit of money brainstorming.
There are dozens of specific brainstorming and problem-solving
techniques that can be used for generating ideas in general.
I write about them on my website
about brainpower from time to time, and all of them can be
applied to problems and ideas related to business, investment,
employment and anything else having to do with money. But for
now we are going to look at how to use just two of these techniques.
These are fun mental exercises that will help you develop your
creativity, even if you do not end up directly applying the resulting
ideas to your financial situation.
This is perhaps one of the best, or at least most entertaining,
techniques for solving problems and creating new money ideas.
The process is as simple as this: Just start combining ideas
and things in new ways. Soon you'll be having a good time (especially
if you do this with other people), and you might create some
new product or service or other way to generate profits or income.
Let's look at a real life example.
Anyone could have had the idea for the "pet rock"
before advertising executive Gary Dahl invented the product in
the 1970s. All one had to do was randomly combine various concepts
in new ways and play with the ideas that resulted. "Rock"
plus "pet" is a fairly direct combination of two concepts,
and although my younger subscribers may not remember, there were
more than a million pet rocks sold in 1975 and 1976. My brother's
"pet sock" idea didn't do nearly so well, but then
at 14 he wasn't the best marketer. In any case, you can see what
the essence of this technique is.
But let's be realistic here for a moment. You can combine
all sorts of different things to come up with new products and
new ways to make money, yet many of the resulting ideas just
won't be suited to your skills and experience. For example, "tree"
and "billboard" might lead to a great idea for creating
cheap billboards using existing trees, but you might know nothing
about the billboard advertising business. It's fun to dream up
these ideas, but how do you increase the odds of having some
that work for you?
Gary Dahl was already involved in advertising and marketing,
so he had a bit of an advantage over anyone else who might have
tried creating the pet rock. He wrote the 30-page guide, The
Care and Training of Your Pet Rock. He marketed and sold
the product in the time leading up to Christmas 1975 in order
to generate big sales in the short lifespan that such non-functional
novelties usually have.
The lesson, if you want to actually invest time and money
in the ideas you brainstorm, is to either get the necessary knowledge
or to develop the ideas that are in areas where you already have
some experience. You might start with things that you know something
about, and combine these with other concepts. For example, if
a man has a job or business driving an ice cream truck (the kind
that stops on each street), he might combine this concept of
"mobile sales vehicle" with a hundred other things
to see what results. He could end up selling pizza from a truck,
or even comic books and magazines. He already knows something
about the running a route and selling out of a truck, so these
ideas are more practical for him to consider.
Let's look at how you might use the whole process more systematically.
First list your skills, areas of knowledge, jobs you've had,
and perhaps businesses you might like to have. For the sake of
an example we'll assume your list includes "comedy"
as one of your skills or interests. You start looking around
the room at things and thinking of anything that comes to mind
to combine with this concept. Get wild in your ideas. The time
to judge them is later. For now, you simply ask questions like,
"How would that work?" or "How can these two concepts
go together to make money?"
"Comedy" and a "restaurant?" It may seem
like there is nothing there, but we eat at a pizza place that
has a magician come in on Friday nights. He may not be paid much
(or anything at all -- I don't know), but he gets to hand out
cards, and gets booked for parties this way. A comedian could
do the same perhaps.
"Comedy" plus "computer" may generate
some more useful ideas. For an investment of just a few hundred
dollars you could be creating and selling your own comedy audios
(downloadable onto MP3s) online. There is currently at least
one "how to be funny" ebook being sold online right
now as well.
Another example: If you have a struggling taxi business, "taxi"
and "pets" might lead to a successful arrangement with
a kennel, to pick up and deliver their client's cats and dogs.
Combining "taxi" with "famous people" might
lead to some sort of tour of the town, like they do in Hollywood.
Don't worry about where the ideas come from or how "creative"
they are. "Job" plus "phone" could lead to
an idea about how to make money on the phone, or may just remind
you to call around to see what other jobs are available. That
alone could be worth thousands more per year to you if you happen
to get the right job, and you probably want results, not just
clever ideas, right?
Here is a list of random combinations of things to play with,
just for money brainstorming practice:
Book + Your Job
Justice + Advertising
Car + Bank
Investment + Your Knowledge
Singing + Food
Food + Loan
Computer + Car
House + People
Tired + Light
Writing + Gambling
Vacation + Delivery
Hat + Billboard
Opinion + Store.
Problems as Money Opportunities
Start looking at problems differently from now on. Every irritation
or disaster or need is an opportunity for someone to make some
money. If you or anyone you know runs into the same frustration
several times, there is almost certainly a solution that can
be the basis for a business or product.
For example, if you hear your parents and others complaining
about stairs in their home, it's probably time for someone to
make money with a housing development that has specifically single-floor
easy-access homes only.
Is everyone where you work complaining about the lunch they
get at the sandwich shop next door? Maybe it's time to create
some great sandwiches to bring to work to sell.
Having a hard time with your boss? Are the other employees
too? Perhaps it is time for a few of you to start your own business,
and run it the way you think it should be run.
Problems with your children? If you set up a seminar and hired
a well-known child rearing expert for it, you might solve your
problem and make some money too.
Real Life Example
A common problem: How to remove various carpet stains. What
money making ideas does this suggest? Invent a new stain remover?
Write a booklet on removing stains, to and sell in quantity to
carpet stores, for them to give away as a bonus? Here's what
I bought lunch for a carpet cleaner I used to work for many
years ago, and I asked him how to remove every type of stain,
while taking notes. Later I took out my notes and spent a week
setting up a website based on this interview (http://www.HowToRemoveCarpetStains.com).
Although it has less than a hundred dollars of monthly revenue
at the moment, at one point it was generating close to a thousand
dollars monthly (it has made over $50,000 during the time it
has been online), even though I spent less than twenty hours
per year working on it.
That's an example of finding money-making ideas in common
needs, and of how a bit of creative brainstorming can pay off.
Start looking at those problems as opportunities. Work with each
one, listing all the ways it might be solved or addressed.