Most of my clients are visionary entrepreneurs with successful companies. Across the board, they share a common challenge – too many ideas. They have new business ideas, marketing ideas, project ideas, and growth ideas. These ideas may form a cohesive group, but more often they seem completely unrelated.

Ideas are what drive entrepreneurs to innovate and create businesses, but they can also cause overwhelm, confusion, and uncertainty. Can you relate?

I’ve struggled with these challenges myself. One tool that helps create order from the chaos of diverse ideas is mind mapping. I often use mind maps as part of my process with clients, and I use the process myself when I feel stuck or overwhelmed.

In one of our recent planning session, a client and I mind mapped the vision for her business. After nearly an hour of exciting discussion and visual mapping, she was nearly in tears. It was the first time she’d been able to create a single visual representation of all the ideas in her head. Mind mapping can be very powerful.

So, what is a mind map?

A mind map is a visual tool that helps organize ideas in a creative, non-linear, but highly intuitive way. This can be especially refreshing for individuals who come from the corporate world, which tends to be excessively linear.

When mind mapping, you group ideas together in a sort of ad hoc hierarchy, identifying links and relationships between them. Mind maps are also good for condensing a lot of information, and can be customized with colors, pictures, and symbols.

My favorite mind mapping tool is Mindmup (I’m not an affiliate, just a fan). I have the paid version, but there is also a free option. Lots of other software is available, both free and paid, but you can create a mind map on a plain sheet of paper.

Sample Mindmap

Creating Your Own Mind Map

To create your own mind map, choose a central topic. That will be the center of your mind map.

Think about the main ideas related to your central topic. Those will be shapes that branch off the central idea. You can break these topics down even further by creating additional branches. Feel free to use colors, symbols, or graphics to customize the look and feel of your mind map.

Some business areas where a mind map could be helpful:

  • Vision: Getting clear on your vision
  • Product Development: What are the elements of a new product you have or would like to develop.
  • Problem Solving: Comparing ideas and solutions.
  • Business Planning: A visual outline of your products, services, goals, etc.
  • Marketing Planning: Planning your marketing and social media.
  • Project Planning: Brainstorming the tasks for a project.
  • To see the big picture

Now It’s Your Turn

How do you use mind maps in your business? What are your favorite tips and techniques?