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Last Updated on March 30, 2020

How to Mind Map to Visualize Your Thoughts (With Mind Map Examples)

How to Mind Map to Visualize Your Thoughts (With Mind Map Examples)

Traditionally, when you have a lot of ideas in your mind, you would create a text document, or take a sheet of paper and start writing in a linear fashion like this:

  • Intro to Visual Facilitation
    • Problem, Consequences, Solution, Benefits, Examples, Call to action
  • Structure
    • Why, What, How to, What If
  • Do It Myself?
    • Audio, Images, time-consuming, less expensive
  • Specialize Offering?
    • Built to Sell (Standard Product Offering), Options (Solving problems, Online calls, Dev projects)

This type of document quickly becomes overwhelming. It obviously lacks in clarity. It also makes it hard for you to get a full picture at a glance and see what is missing.

You always have too much information to look at, and most often you only get a partial view of the information. It’s hard to zoom out, figuratively, and to see the whole hierarchy and how everything is connected.

To see a fuller picture, create a mind map.

What Is a Mind Map?

A mind map is a simple hierarchical radial diagram. In other words, you organize your thoughts around a central idea. This technique is especially useful whenever you need to “dump your brain”, or develop an idea, a project (for example, a new product or service), a problem, a solution, etc. By capturing what you have in your head, you make space for other thoughts.

In this article, we are focusing on the basics: mind mapping using pen and paper.

The objective of a mind map is to clearly visualize all your thoughts and ideas before your eyes. Don’t complicate a mind map with too many colors or distractions. Use different colors only when they serve a purpose. Always keep a mind map simple and easy to follow.

    Image Credit: English Central

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    By following the three next steps below, you will be able to create such mind maps easily and quickly.

    3 Simple Steps to Create a Mind Map

    The three steps are:

    1. Set a central topic
    2. Add branches of related ideas
    3. Add sub-branches for more relevant ideas

    Let’s take a look at an example Verbal To Visual illustrates on the benefits of mind mapping.[1]

    Step 1 : Set a Central Topic

    Take a blank sheet of paper, write down the topic you’ve been thinking about: a problem, a decision to make, an idea to develop, or a project to clarify.

    Word it in a clear and concise manner.

      What is the first idea that comes to mind when you think of the subject for your mind map? Draw a line (straight or curved) from the central topic, and write down that idea.

        Step 3 : Add Sub-Branches for More Relevant Ideas

        Then, what does that idea make you think of? What is related to it? List it out next to it in the same way, using your pen.

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          You can always add more to it later, but that’s good for now.

          In our example, we could detail the sub-branch “Benefits” by listing those benefits in sub-branches of the branch “Benefits”. Unfortunately, we already reached the side of the sheet, so we’re out of space to do so. You could always draw a line to a white space on the page and list them there, but it’s awkward.

          Since we created this mind map on a regular letter-format sheet of paper, the quantity of information that fits in there is very limited. That is one of the main reasons why I recommend that you use software rather than pen and paper for most of the mind mapping that you do.

          Repeat Step 2 and Step 3

          Repeat steps 2 and 3 as many times as you need to flush out all of your ideas around the topic that you chose.

            I added first-level (main) branches around the central topic mostly in a clockwise fashion, from top-right to top-left. That is how, by convention, a mind map is read.

            In the next section, we are covering the three strategies to building your maps.  

            Mind Map Examples to Illustrate Mind Mapping

            You can go about creating a mind map in various ways:

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            • Branch by Branch: Adding whole branches (with all of their sub-branches), one by one.
            • Level by Level: Adding elements to the map, one level at a time. That means that firstly, you add elements around the central topic (main branches). Then, you add sub-branches to those main branches. And so on.
            • Free-Flow: Adding elements to your mind map as they come to you, in no particular order.

            Branch by Branch

            Start with the central topic, add a first branch. Focus on that branch and detail it as much as you can by adding all the sub-branches that you can think of.

              Then develop ideas branch by branch.

                A branch after another, and the mind map is complete.

                  Level by Level

                  In this “Level by Level” strategy, you first add all the elements that you can think of around the central topic, one level deep only. So here you add elements on level 1:

                    Then, go over each branch and add the immediate sub-branches (one level only). This is level 2:

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                      Idem for the next level. This is level 3. You can have as many levels as you want in a mind map. In our example, we only have 3 levels. Now the map is complete:

                        Free-Flow

                        Basically, a free flow strategy of mind mapping is to add main branches and sub-topics freely. No rules to restrict how ideas should flow in the mind map. The only thing to pay attention to is that you need to be careful about the level of the ideas you’re adding to the mind map — is it a main topic, or is it a subtopic?

                          I recommend using a combination of the “Branch by Branch” and the “Free-Flow” strategies.

                          What I normally do is I add one branch at a time, and later on review the mind map and add elements in various places to finish it. I also sometimes build level 1 (the main branches) first, then use a “Branch by Branch” approach, and later finish the map in a “Free-Flow” manner.

                          Try each strategy and combinations of strategies, and see what works best for you.

                          The Bottom Line

                          When you’re feeling stuck or when you’re just starting to think about a particular idea or project, take out a paper and start to brain dump your ideas and create a mind map. Mind mapping has the magic to clear your head and have your thoughts organized.

                          If you can’t always have access to a paper and pen, don’t worry! Creating a mind map with software is very effective and you get none of the drawbacks of pen and paper. You can also apply the above steps and strategies just the same when using a mind mapping tool on the phone and computer.

                          More Tools to Help You Organize Thoughts

                          Featured photo credit: Alvaro Reyes via unsplash.com

                          Reference

                          More by this author

                          Matt Tanguay

                          Matt is the CEO and Chief Visual Facilitator of Fluent Brain. He writes about problem solving techniques and tips to supercharge the brain.

                          How to Mind Map to Visualize Your Thoughts (With Mind Map Examples) Master Your New Year’s Resolutions: The Ultimate Infographic How to Solve Your Problems Visually Using a Solution Map

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                          Last Updated on September 29, 2020

                          How to Start an Online Business That Will Grow and Succeed

                          How to Start an Online Business That Will Grow and Succeed

                          Unsurprisingly enough, all businesses are online today. Considering the advances in the smartphone industry as well as the increasingly accessible internet facility, it was only a matter of time before businesses took advantage of the online environment.

                          This increasing popularity makes for a promising future for a lot of young entrepreneurs. And knowing how to start an online business will open up a world of possibilities for you that was not possible 10 years ago.

                          So, keeping the potential for exponential growth in mind, let’s dive into the article below, and explore the steps of starting an online business that will bring you success.

                          1. Becoming the Master of ‘ONE’ Trade

                          Most successful online businesses are the master of one trade. And that’s why beginning with a niche is always a good idea.

                          A niche market is a focused segment within a larger market. Imagine a men’s shoes market and then, imagine handcrafted brown Italian leather shoes for men. While the previous one is a bigger market, the latter one is simply a more focused segment within that market.

                          Knowing the niche helps a lot to start an online business and if you are feeling a bit lost, here are some self-queries that will act as a perfect guide:

                          What Speaks to Your Heart?

                          This first way of discovering the niche is perfect for those who want to do what they love. Working in a market that you love will ensure that constant excitement and drive to do better, eventually leading to ultimate prosperity.

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                          Decisions Based on Knowledge

                          The second way is perfect for those who have a lot of untapped knowledge about a specific industry. Utilizing the insights on a specific industry is a great way to find a niche. This way, you’ll already know all the ins and outs of the industry and can easily get ahead of all the competitors.

                          Undiscovered Potential

                          Lastly, conducting research into various industries and finding an untapped segment is another amazing way of finding the right niche. This practice will require you to come up with a new and unique solution for uncatered audiences.

                          2. When Is Your Idea Valid?

                          All the great ideas for starting an online business needs to be valid. And once you have found the niche, this validation process is what comes next.

                          Proving the soundness of the idea is not at all hard. A detailed industry examination is all you need initially to understand the value of the concept and recalibrate it to turn into a great online business.

                          Market research is a systematic unraveling of the target market. This research will include all the information on the product/service you are about to sell, the target audience, and how the competitors are operating in this crowded market.

                          This in-depth research will give you the initial idea of how the products can make an impact in the outside world. And once the small online business ideas are validated, it will be time to move on and craft a plan and start working on establishing the business.

                          3. Crafting the Map to Success

                          Having a proper plan for an online business is like having a map when you travel to an unknown city. This is a document that includes all the factual information on the business and crucial business data.

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                          To help you out, here’s a list of all the information online business plans must include:

                          • An idea of objective – The best online business plans always have a clear outline of the business goals and intentions. Having this clear outline will increase the efficiency of business functions later on. The target demographic, business model—all kinds of information needs to be a part of this document.
                          • Taking stock of available resources – A startup needs to utilize all the resources it has, and that’s why the plan needs to have an in-depth outline of the financial resources in use as well as the employees and their expertise. With a better idea of all the resources in hand, starting an online business will be an easier process.

                          4. The Virtual Storefront: A Process of Development

                          The steps of how to start an online business are incomplete without the website creation process. With the right website approach, you can easily succeed in increasing business revenue.

                          What does that perfect business website look like? Let’s follow these steps to create an effective business website.

                          Choose Your Approach

                          There are numerous ways of making a website and for a positive outcome, you need to choose the perfect approach. Depending on the business model, initial finances, and end goals, there are two kinds of approaches for the online storefront:

                          • Third-party approach – Third-party platforms will connect you with the customers out there. For small online business ideas, Creating an account or site with these platforms will be beneficial because these platforms come with a large array of services as well as a big enough existing consumer base ready to utilize.
                          • Creating a new website –  A business-specific website will help you eliminate the third party go-between and connect directly with the buyers. With this approach, you get more control over the business and how it is presented to the consumers out there and the revenue you make. Any of the above-mentioned approaches can be beneficial for easy online business startups. However, to achieve some specific business goals, having a customized website will be more beneficial for you.

                          Design Can Bring You Maximum Success!

                          For those who have decided to create their own site, the design is of paramount importance. With a great design, you will be able to engage and interact with the visitors better and encourage them to make a purchase.

                          The design, however, is not just a matter of aesthetics. A website’s design encompasses all aspects of it, from the visual effects to the content that’s used on the site.

                          To create a truly amazing design that reflects new online business concepts here are a few matters to consider:

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                          • Keep it responsive – Many markets are simply skipping over the desktop phase and launching the business for mobile users around the world.[1] Considering this popularity of the mobile internet market, the business website has to be responsive. This approach will help you to reach a bigger audience and conduct business on a larger scale.
                          • Users want a fast experience – Using high-quality images on the site does improve the visuals, but make sure all those images are compressed. Having a faster website will enhance the user experience on the site. Besides compressing all the media content on the site, you can also utilize an asynchronous loading technique that loads all the contents simultaneously, reducing friction. With a faster site, it will become easier to implement the online business startup ideas into reality.
                          • Define the brand – The design stage determines a lot of things for the business website and one of those things is the business image. To make an impact on the world with the business, you have to create a perfect image and for that, a brand guide is necessary. The brand guide is a document that includes all the information and guidelines on various visual elements on the site that makes up the business personality. Based on the kind of image you want to create, all the elements will be outlined in this documentation.

                          Where the Website Becomes Reality

                          Since we know how website design helps to launch a successful online business, it is time to move onto development. Online business development is where the idea becomes a reality. And to make this reality perfect, you need to make sure that the development and deployment process goes well.

                          A high performing site always includes all the right features that enhance the user experience as well as helps you to convert more traffic. And for the best results, ensure the use of only the latest tech stack during development.

                          Here are some development issues you have to pay attention to while building the business website:

                          • The right partner makes all the difference – For small startups who are wondering how to start an online business, finding the right development partner is going to make all the difference. However, before making a decision, there are a few things you should contemplate. The team that you are about to hire should have experience in catering to your industry, as well as an extensive portfolio and good reviews. Additionally, it will be perfect if the agency or freelancer also provides a 360-degree service, from development to maintenance.
                          • How to assure the quality of the site? – Testing the site is an integral part of the answer to the question of “how to start an online business?”. An experienced partner will be able to help you the most with this. From security testing to split testing, this stage in development will help in understanding how well the site functions and what needs to change. And once the changes are made and the test results come clean, it will be time to launch the website.

                          5. Some Tricks to Increase Online Sales

                          Selling online is not easy, but not hard either. In a physical store, you can use campaigns, go door to door with pamphlets, and such. However, successful online businesses have their own style of campaigns that helps them to sell more without any problems.

                          So, what are these tricks?

                          Utilize the Magic of SEO

                          With an increase in quality traffic, the sales ratio will go up too. And to drive quality traffic on the website, you need to utilize the SEO tricks, and probably hire an SEO expert.

                          When starting an online business site, ensure all the content on the site is optimized to rank for the right queries by target consumers. With a higher rank on the SERP, the traffic will increase on the site.

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                          With the increase in quality traffic, it will become easier for you to convert visitors. The visitor data will help you to adjust the site performance. In brief, utilizing SEO will open the doors to a lot of possibilities for your small online business ideas.[2]

                          Entice With Free Value

                          Consumers today have lots of options to choose from. And keeping all that in mind, it will be wise to create a business plan for an online startup that provides free value to the users before asking them to buy something.

                          Consumers want to buy from someone who knows what they are doing, especially in the case of a curated service or goods provider. And that’s why to turn the profitable online business ideas even more effective, you need to start offering free value on the site, with free products and content.

                          Having a blog is also another way of displaying your expertise. With specialized content on the industry, you can easily grab the attention of the audience. And once assured of your knowledge on the matter, consumers will feel a lot safer about making a purchase.

                          A Killer Customer Service Is Everything

                          Your small online business idea needs a better service option. Using AI-based interactive features to implement better support for the global consumer base will prove to be extremely beneficial. With a 24/7 automated support channel, customers will be satisfied with your business and come back more often.

                          It’s an Easy Process: All You Have to Do Is to Start

                          And there it is, the simple five-step process of starting an online business that is bound to succeed. If you look closely, you’ll notice that there are not a lot of differences between creating a physical business and an online one. The main differences are only in the consumer and competitive landscape.

                          While a physical store faces and caters to local competitors and consumers, the online business has to deal with the same on a global basis. So, focusing well on the global market landscape while crafting the plan will help you succeed.

                          More Tips on How to Start an Online Business

                          Featured photo credit: Austin Distel via unsplash.com

                          Reference

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