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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. As an entrepreneur, you’re always trying to think of ways to grow and enhance your business. 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 be a more innovative entrepreneur.
So, 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 be a more innovative entrepreneur.
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 MindMapping.com). 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 entrepreneurs 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.
Innovative entrepreneurs are changing the world we live in. Being an entrepreneur is tough, though, and no matter how creative you are, we all go through ruts. Remember to use the tools above when you need to be refreshed!