Skip E-Ship Class, Read This—Part I, Opportunity

Last week, I wrote an introductory post to get you primed for developing a new venture.  Today, I’ll help you identify and bring focus to your creative ideas from a business prospective.

Creativity is something all of us possess.  The trick is to develop your creative ideas with a marketplace in mind. The exercises below will help you focus your ideas and provide a step by step process to get you thinking about a new venture.

Part One: Identify an Opportunity
All great ventures start with fantastic ideas.  Get your team together several times over the next week and start to brainstorm about the following questions.

  • What are the needs on your campus that are/were not being met?
  • What are some needs in your community (local, regional, national, or global) that are not being met?
  • Is there something that you encounter in your day-to-day life that you think could be better?
  • What do/did you find frustrating in your arts and business degree path?

NOTE: Think broadly at first—you can always narrow your focus!

Hitting a road block?  Try these divergent thinking techniques:

  • Start with the central issue (need to be met) and write down whatever thoughts come to mind when you think on that topic.
  • Put a time limit on yourself in an effort to generate fast, impulse-driven ideas. Ideas can both obscure and wild.
  • Use bubbl to help focus your ideas.

NOTE: Let your mind wander–connections can be as far away from the actual central issue as possible. Your goal is to generate as many ideas as possible. Don’t constrain yourself: anything “goes.” It is often the most impossible idea that becomes the most intriguing.

Still stumped? Create a BugList

Identify at least 75 things that bug you. These can be problems related to business, your personal life, social ills, government, the university, your classes, the arts and so on. This should be a brainstormed list. As you brainstorm, do not worry whether there is a possible solution to the problem. 90% of the time, the things that bug you bug others.

Synthesize your ideas:
Take all the information from above and distill it down to 3 to 4 amazing ideas you and your team would like to explore further. Next, have each member of your team informally survey friends about the idea that you’d like to tackle in order to determine if the need you’d like to solve is relevant to others.  Ask them why this particular problem exists? What are some ways to solve it?  Try not to lead your friends.  Simply let them respond to the problem you present.

Over the next week approach no less than 5 people and have a conversation about your idea and meet back as a group to distill your 3 to 4 amazing ideas down to 1.  Step two in this process will be devoted to developing your great idea by focusing on how to create a sustainable venture.

Share your ideas below!


Header image  “Problems are Opportunities” by Bright Vibes, CC-BY-2.0.

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Nate Zeisler is the Dean for Community Initiatives at the Colburn School in Los Angeles. He envisions a world where students majoring in the arts have a clear path to a sustainable career, where creative minds are empowered and inspired to rule the workforce, and where access to the arts is not just for the privileged few, but for all.

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