Why Visual Brainstorming Works for Creative Entrepreneurs

santa barbara beach

santa barbara beachWhy Visual Brainstorming Works for Creative Entrepreneurs

It’s a beautiful, sunny Friday afternoon in Santa Barbara, California and honestly, I’d rather be at the beach than sitting here working on visual brainstorming for my business. Tides have been super low this week, which means awesome tidepools and a walk along part of the beach that is normally difficult to reach. Here are a few pics from our late evening walk at Haskell’s Beach near our home on Monday afternoon. The light was amazing and I loved this hole in a rock that was perfectly heart shaped. That’s my daughter’s hand in the background, playing with the muscles growing on the rock.

IMG_5423 santa barbara beach

But I’m not at the beach… I’m in the second best place, my craft room. I look in front of me at the table and see paintbrushes, stamps, magazines, notes, markers and other trappings of my creative business life. I have a nice big computer and a desk in the office I share with my husband but I often find myself working on my laptop in this room, surrounded by my vision board, visual business plan, Zentangle® artwork and other projects. My table is a little messy at the moment. I spend a lot of time marking art in here on the weekends, so it will have to get cleaned up first. I love to start with a clean table before working on a new project.

visual brainstorming

I am working on the content and calendar for the new membership program I am launching next month and knew that I needed to do some more brainstorming around the content. I want the program to be fun, creative and practical which means diverse types of assignments, recordings, etc. So I did what I do best: I grabbed a large 12×18 sheet of paper and started writing. I love this type of visual brainstorming. I can see the flow, make changes, add notes and doodles. I can cut it into pieces and move them around on another fresh sheet of paper. I like to use inexpensive kids drawing pads for this process.

I use this pad for visual brainstorming with my clients, too, often taking notes and drawing ideas or plans out for them as we work either in person or on the phone. If we are in person, I give them the notes or if we are working by phone, I will usually snap photos of the notes and email them to the client. I love for them to be able to think and dream while I write down what I hear. If you are a verbal processor more than a writer, ask a friend or your spouse to listen and take notes while you talk.

For creative entrepreneurs, planning can feel painful or difficult. It feels so linear, dry and boring. But brainstorming has a different feel, it’s playful and fun. We don’t have to put all our ideas into a box or a straight line. While you can see that my notes begin in a linear fashion, I have already started to move things around and add supplemental ideas.

visual brainstorming

I also love to use mind maps to create content or make plans for a program that I want to offer, it helps me be even more creative and free to think outside the box. I love working on large sheets of blank paper, plenty of room to write big, add notes, etc. I also love using colorful pens. Green has been my color of choice this week for most of my planning and note taking. Green is the color of money, growth, spring… and the hills around my house are finally green after all of the rain the past month. I love the color green!

When it comes to creating a plan for your business, your blog or your life, try getting a big piece of paper out. Here’s another fun example of a visual business plan that one of my clients, Cyndi Elliott of ISeeAbility.com is working on. Love that she used a large poster board for this process plus brainstorming lists and sticky notes so that she can move her notes and comments around.

visual brainstormig

This kind of visual brainstorming works best for right brain learners who might otherwise tend to avoid planning like the plague. I encourage you to grab your kids notepad, crayons or markers and have some fun playing with a plan for whatever projects you are currently working on. This process works great for business strategy, book outlines, creating products or even meal planning.

If you can add an element of creative fun to your business planning, you are more likely to sit down and make the time to do. I am so glad I got a good start on my plan for The Artful Marketer’s 6-Figure Breakthrough Club, now I can go to the beach 🙂 Sunset and a glass of wine sound pretty good right now!

If you struggle with planning, and marketing and sales overwhelm you, take a look at The Artful Marketer membership program. It’s 12 months of ongoing support, training and accountability to help you build a profitable business! The program begins in February and because it’s a brand new program, I am offering it a steal.

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  1. Cindy on January 23, 2015 at 4:03 pm

    What awesome ideas to help a creative mind pull out all the ideas we have running in our thoughts to begin a plan to succeed.

    Thanks for sharing!

    • minette on January 23, 2015 at 4:23 pm

      Thanks Cindy, so glad to see you here!!

  2. KathleenO on January 23, 2015 at 5:06 pm

    Great post! I used to hate brainstorming but in college when I had to write a lot of papers I realized the importance of it. I used to use a full length mirror and whiteboard makers because I have really big handwriting and that was the only thing I found that gave me enough space!

    • minette on January 24, 2015 at 8:09 am

      What a fun idea to use a mirror and whiteboard markers, that is so creative. I encourage my clients to GO BIG with their creativity!

  3. Kebba Buckley Button on January 23, 2015 at 5:14 pm

    Minette, you uplift my creative side! Your kind and lovely smile, your colors, your designs–and you are the one who introduced me to Zentangle– and now your mindmap drawings. I do something like that Ideas just belong in different areas of my picture of a project, and article, a book… :-). Thanks for another wonderful sharing.

    • minette on January 24, 2015 at 8:08 am

      Oh, thank you Kebba for the kind words! I appreciate your positive feedback and so glad that you love Zentangle.

    • Kebba Buckley Button on January 24, 2015 at 8:49 am


  4. Doug on January 23, 2015 at 8:20 pm

    Hi Minette,
    I am fairly new to the idea of mind mapping. I started using it a couple of years ago. I find I’ve been using a mini version of it to organize my posts for this ultimate blog challenge. I look through the pictures that I’ve taken on a recent vacation and put them into groups on the mind map. Then I add comments to describe the groups and do research to make sure I’m getting the facts right. Previous to mind mapping I used flowcharting and Gantt charts for project management. I agree some tasks need a clean desk before they can be started. Unfortunately my desk seems to be a giant inbox and when I am finished with the project I don’t always put away the remaining paperwork. I remember a picture of a young boy sitting on the pot with the roll of toilet paper, “and a caption which said “the job is not done until the paperwork is finished”.

    Thanks for the tips on stimulating creativity.

    • minette on January 24, 2015 at 8:02 am

      Hi Doug, thanks for stopping by to comment on my blog. Love the toilet paper story. Your visual mind mapping with the photos is a great example of how to approach content or planning in a more wholistic and less linear way that stimulates creativity!

  5. Chara on January 24, 2015 at 2:59 pm

    Minette, you make this very convincing and give excellent tips for engaging in it. Very helpful!

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