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Entrepreneurs, successful ones at least, are always at the cutting edge of their field. To remain there, there needs to be a constant flow of fresh ideas and innovations. Brainstorming remains a time tested strategy that can engage partners, employees, experts and customers as well as produce the dynamic creative energy needed to keep the business moving and growing. However, done poorly, and it can be a draining process.

So what is brainstorming? It is a way of releasing the creativity in any like-minded group. This is done by assembling the group and putting the problem or challenge before them. You then invite the group members to think of any conceivable way of addressing that problem. Every suggestion, whether realistic, is acceptable. As an example, perhaps the problem is how to draw a larger breakfast crowd at your restaurant. In your brainstorming session, lowering the prices is an acceptable contribution–but so too is taking a rope and lassoing passersby and pulling them into the restaurant.

Brainstorming in the Internet Age has taken on a new dimension. Today, there are numerous “Cloud Based” services that can help with your session. Here are a few of the best:

VOIP Telephone Services. These are telephone services that operate through the Internet rather than over telephone wires. One of the best examples is SKYPE, which makes it possible for several people to participate at the same time in a single conference call.

Online Office Suites. Services such as Google Docs (http://docs.google.com) and Zoho (http://business.zoho.com) don’t merely offer you tools such as word processors and spreadsheets. They also offer the ability for many people to collaborate on the same project with one another. This means you could create a brainstorming document and invite all of your staff to add to the document.

Online White Boards. As the name suggests, this is the Internet’s version of the white board that you would typically use for your brainstorming session. These are quite handy. To see how they work, go to http://www.scriblink.com. A good online white board allows you to send the log-in information to your employees or contractors and then you can write information and each participant in the session will see what you’re writing in real-time. Likewise, they’ll see every change you make. And so that the others in the meeting can take part in the brainstorm session, there is usually a chat feature. This is as close as you can get to having an old-fashioned brainstorming session in the Cloud. Other popular white boards are http://www.scrible.com and http://www.dabbleboard.com.

 
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