A few days a go I walked over to my printer and grabbed a piece of paper to begin brainstorming and writing down ideas/concepts for a new business that I am working on. Whenever I start a business I always limit myself to one piece of white computer paper to start putting down the details of the business.
My reasoning for limiting myself to one piece of paper is that any company that you plan on starting should never be more complex that having to use more than one sheet of paper to explain the business.
I always begin by writing down possible names of the company. I write down a combination of keywords and phrases and slowing coax my mind into putting ideas together to produce creative and unique names for the company. I then check domain registration sites to check the availability of each name. That process usually takes days, but, again, it all stays on that one piece of paper.
Since I am a visual type of guy, I then proceed to sketching out possible logos for my company. I literally look at hundreds of images from flickr, books, magazines, and other creative sites to absorb material which helps me become more creative. After I think that I have absorbed enough information, I close all the books, the computer, everything, and just sit in silence with my pencil and paper.
After the logo sketches are complete and I am satisfied that I have a good starting name and a working logo, I now turn over my sheet of paper and being writing how the business is going to work in multiple short paragraphs. Some of the subjects include: advertising, mission statement, membership, and business model. I say this with all seriousness: each one of these subjects should only be a long paragraph at most.
The one-sheet-of-paper technique is very effective. Over the many months of using this method, I have trained myself to think in a focused manner and more importantly, to keep things simple. Less is always more.
So the next time you being brainstorming for a new business idea, give the one-sheet method a shot. Just keep on putting down those ideas and coming back to that one sheet of paper. Hang the paper up on a wall and stare at it, the ideas will begin to flow and your company will always be more focused as a result.