“Ideas can be life-changing. Sometimes all you need to open the door is just one more good idea.” (Jim Rohn). Every day you solve problems. How to navigate through that construction. How to make breakfast without waking the kids. How to juggle the schedules of everyone in your household. You find a thing that needs doing and you figure out how to make it happen. You are creative, whether you realize it or not. When you find yourself imaginatively solving a problem, you’re being creative. When you see a way to take an idea to another level, you are a visionary. When your idea solves a problem other people also need to be solved, congratulations: you’ve got yourself a business!

But wait!

Some of our ideas can be, well, too normal. These are ideas anyone might have come up with. With a little focused creative effort, you can take your idea to the next level and create something truly valuable. Now you’ve got a viable business idea.

So the question is: “How do you generate ideas of value that have the possibility of producing a successful business?”

1. Visualize It!

Grab a sheet of paper and start drawing images related to your challenge. From prehistoric cave painting through Da Vinci’s notebooks, all the way to the VizToolz Startup Cup has to offer, visualizing your challenges is still the most humane way to innovate and provoke creative solution-building. See what you really mean.

2. Define the challenge you’re facing.

Using your visualizations, make sure the problem you’re solving is actually the problem you think you’re solving. You may have a great answer, but if you’re asking the wrong question your answer may seem wrong.

3. Collect as much information as possible on the challenge.

Research, research, research. Why does the problem happen? Who does it affect? Einstein said that we don’t understand a thing until we can explain that thing to a child. Could you explain the challenge to a child? Or at least to an adult unfamiliar with the field you’re working in? If not, you might want to do a bit more investigation to make sure you’ve got a solid handle on the challenge.

4. Look for areas in which you can apply new thinking and generate ideas of value.

This goes back to visualization and research again. People value new, workable ideas. How have other people tried to solve the problem? What has worked? What hasn’t? How can you fix what didn’t work and/or improve on what did? Your new, creative approach may be exactly what someone out there will find immensely valuable.

5. Come up with as many ideas as possible to solve the problem.

Brainstorming time! Get out some more paper, some pens, make a list. Make a mind map. Draw a picture of your solutions. However you do it, get it all recorded so you can sort through it later. And don’t make the mistake of judging your ideas right now. They will be evaluated later. Now you’re just collecting them in one spot.

6. Let your mind wander to allow ultimate thinking to take place.

All brains are a little ADD. Like a word association game, ideas which seem unrelated will flit through your mind in search of a way to connect. Let the series of ideas flow and at the end will be a great idea.

7. Let go of the ideas through rest and relaxation.

The brain is magic. Fill it with information and ideas, then go do something unrelated. It will automatically root around for the best ways to combine the information and will pop out several solutions if you give it time. And if all else fails, taking a walk in nature is one of the most powerful ways to let go of ideas and gain new insights.

8. Revisit the ideas sometime later in order to expand the ideas and let them become new again.

Set a time to return to the ideas you’ve collected. If you can, let enough time lapse between the beginning of this project and when you return to it that your mind has become used to thinking of other things. Then the ideas you created will seem new. You may find new, innovative ways to expand or combine them.

9. Evaluate and prioritize the best ideas.

Now comes the assessment. Get realistic. Ask questions like “Would I buy this?” and answer them honestly. Filter out the ideas that just don’t work and list the ones that do. These are what you’ll take action on.

10. Let your ideas run their course before you finally start passing judgment on their value.

Give your ideas the time they deserve. So often you might have an idea and immediately dismiss it without giving it a chance. Sometimes the best ideas are the ones we’d have originally rejected, so explore all the options you have. Explore them fully. Get to know them intimately before you assess their value.

Nothing creates value like the introduction of a well thought out idea. Your idea, well-researched, well-planned and well-executed, can be the path you need for your business success.