When you are faced with a difficult problem to solve, it is important for you not to allow yourself to be governed by rigid or straight-line thinking. Most people think rigidly because that is what they have been taught to do. You must allow your mind to wander in all directions and throw out any kind of wild and crazy solution that it cares to. You can then write down each idea as it comes. (This is like brainstorming without the group.)
When faced with a particular problem, take out a blank sheet of paper and write the problem at the top of the page. Then write down all the ways in which this problem could be solved. Do not think over your answers; just write all your thoughts and ideas down, no matter how silly or unlikely they seem. You can go back later and rate each on its particular merits.
A piece of paper headed with the problem “Lack of Capital,” or more specifically, “Lack of $25,000,” might include the following possible solutions:
• Get a loan from the bank.
• Ask Uncle Mort.mort
• Sell my car.
• Use my credit cards.
• Rob a bank.
• Win the lottery.
• Ask customers for money.
• Cash in my life insurance.
• Sell some of my stock.
• Get a partner for my venture.
The key is not to think about the validity of the ideas as you write. Just write freely. When you have filled the entire page with possibilities, then go back and cross off the ideas that are really off base. We will start by crossing off bank robbery and winning the lottery. The average bank robber nets only $4,000 and there is a 20-year jail term if you fail. Your chances of winning the lottery are slim to none. The bank won’t lend money on such a venture, but after crossing off most of the solutions, we are left with getting a partner, soliciting customers, or asking Uncle Mort.
Now, take a second piece of paper and head it, “Finding a Partner.” On this, you can list all your friends and relatives who are possible business associates. Then list other possibilities such as advertising in the newspaper for an investor. Better still, you could think of suppliers or customers who might aid you. By continuing this process at each stage, you will be amazed by the great ideas and solutions that you come up with. There is magic in letting your mind run free in What-if Land and writing your thoughts down in black and white.
Write down as many solutions as possible no matter how silly they seem at the moment.