5 Tips for Narrowing Down Ideas After Brainstorming

Brainstorming is a key part of the entrepreneurial process. Without a few good ideas, your company could sputter out before you even have a chance to raise your first found. Fortunately, there are a few tactics for narrowing down good ideas after a brainstorming session that could make success part of the equation for your startup.

We asked five entrepreneurs about what the best way to narrow down ideas after a productive brainstorming session. Take a look at what they had to say below:

Use Sticky Notes to Rank Ideas

“Write down all the best ideas on sticky notes and start to rank those notes. For instance, if there are 25 ideas, start to rank each idea from best to worst in piles of five each. Take the top 10 and start to narrow down again. Repeat until you are left with only the number of ideas that you need. You could also use a kanban board like Trello if your team members are not in the same room.”

– John Arroyo of Arroyo Labs

Combine Ideas and Create New Ones

“At Aligned Signs, we divide these ideas into categories. We mix some ideas and create one from there; we check similarities and then see which would fit best for whatever we want to do. Combining ideas and deconstructing and reconstructing them brings out the best about teamwork and we love that.”

– Jessica Baker of Aligned Signs

Take a Breather

“We’ve all experienced it: We come up with a bunch of amazing ideas, only to wake up the next morning, look down at our notes, and wonder precisely when we took leave of our senses. In my experience, the best thing you can do after you’ve had a productive sit-down is to distance yourself from it. Take an hour or so, then approach things with a fresh mind and a more objective perspective.”

– Steven Buchwald of Buchwald & Associates

Rely on the Urgent/Important Matrix

“Having a process is important so you can make informed decisions, even as your business scales. I run my business on the principles of the ‘urgent/important matrix.’ (If you’re not familiar with this, you should definitely look it up!) Once you understand what is ‘important’ and ‘urgent,’ use a Gantt chart to determine where resources are available and when they can be allocated.”

– Ryan Meghdies of Tastic Marketing

Prioritize Based On Impact, Confidence and Ease

“Use the I.C.E. framework to determine the highest leverage ideas: What things will have the most impact? What are you most confident in? How easy is it to execute? Based on the total score of each idea, you’ll have a prioritized list to go through one at a time (based on your resources). But if you discover an idea isn’t going to work mid-execution, it’s better to move on.”

– Todd Giannattasio of Tresnic Media

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Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only organization comprised of the world's most promising young entrepreneurs. YEC members generate billions of dollars in revenue and have created tens of thousands of jobs.
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