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8 Tools to Help You Be A More Innovative Business Owner

Innovation is at a premium these days, with companies big and small competing to bring new ideas to market quickly or revitalize old concepts in new ways. Whether you’re trying to develop a new product, pivot your business model or streamline your daily operations, here are eight tools and websites that can help you and your team be more innovative.

Mind Mapping

Mind mapping is a visual approach to capturing and coming up with new ideas. You start with one idea in the middle of a page, then draw lines branching out to related ideas, color-coding them. (You can see samples at While you can do mind mapping on a whiteboard or on paper, mind mapping software can help you easily organize, save, share and collaborate on your mind maps. Coggle is free mind-mapping software that’s simple and easy to use; you can collaborate, drag and drop images and revert to older versions of files. If you’re a right-brainer, you will like that Coggle looks like a real, hand-drawn mind map. However, if you’re more left-brained, you might prefer XMind, which offers a wide range of styles for your mind maps and exports them to PowerPoint, Excel, PDF and a ton of other formats.


Are you looking for innovation tools that not only help you come up with new ideas, but also help you decide which ones to follow up on and manage the whole process? With OneDesk’s innovation management software, you can listen to what customers are saying online, conduct surveys and ask questions to see what your target market really wants, get customers’, employees’ and partners’ suggestions and feedback on your ideas; manage the innovation process by creating and assigning tasks, and collaborate with vendors or partners outside your business to bring the project to life.


Do you want to tap into a bigger base of innovative thinkers than you currently have access to? Visit Ideaken, where you can post an “innovation challenge” and crowdsource responses from innovators of your choice—whether it’s your partners, vendors or individuals around the world. You’ll need to offer some type of reward for solving your innovation challenge, but you only pay out the reward if you’re satisfied with the solution. Ideaken serves as the middleman, promoting your challenge to your chosen audience; you can monitor progress along the way.

One-Stop Learning Shop

Innovation Excellence dubs itself the world’s most popular innovation website, and for good reason. This website is a true one-stop innovation shop, featuring a Resource section packed with articles, videos, presentations, webinars, books and more. Ask questions and get answers in the Expert Q&A section, which also features interviews with innovation experts. Find innovation service providers, such as product design firms, in the Directory. Finally, join the Community (it’s free) to discuss innovation with people worldwide and access thousands of articles on innovation by Community members. Browsing Innovation Excellence will get your innovation muscles flexing!


Brainstorming is one innovation technique we’re all familiar with—or at least, we think we are. In reality, there are dozens of ways to brainstorm, so if the way you’re currently doing it is leaving you uninspired, check out MindTools’ brainstorming tools (as well as dozens of other idea-generation and creativity tools). MindTools’ strength is its clear, detailed explanation of how each method works, so whether you’re trying Reverse Brainstorming, Rolestorming or Starbursting, you’ll know exactly what you’re doing. You can also get your next brainstorming session jumping with FST’s list of 100 Online Brainstorming Tools.

Rieva Lesonsky

Rieva Lesonsky

Contributor at Fundera
Rieva Lesonsky is a small business contributor for Fundera and CEO of GrowBiz Media, a media company. She has spent 30+ years covering, consulting and speaking to small businesses owners and entrepreneurs.
Rieva Lesonsky