Mind Mapping – What it is and How To Use it To Your Business’s Advantage

char_en_09Small-business owners and their companies depend – and thrive – on ideas and plans. After all, didn’t your business start as ‘just’ an idea?

Now that your business is actually a reality and up and running, your schedule is probably overflowing with daily tasks and responsibilities, leaving little room for planning out how new ideas can best fit into your business and help increase overall sales and your general bottom line.

One visualization tool that’s being increasingly used for business applications is mind mapping. Mind maps are useful for brainstorming, planning and visualizing everything from new marketing strategies and meeting notes to complete business plans. You can even use them to help plan new content for your blogs and social media accounts.

Mind maps can take a variety of forms, but they’re most often a diagram of a key concept, which you put in the center of your map, with a web of complementary ideas branching out from it to help you organize your thoughts about that topic. These plans are more visually oriented than other plans, making it possible for you to see connections between ideas and processes that might not be so obvious in standard note-taking.

The concept of mind mapping is nothing really new, it began gaining its current popularity in the1970s, when a popular psychologist and author, Tony Buzan, began advocating its use. Since then, mind mapping has become popular with people in many different walks of life and with the rise of the computer and the Internet a great many mind mapping softwares have sprung up. If you are interested in the concept, here is a little about some of the best of those softwares.

Coggle

The creators of Coggle, which is a free resource, claim that their mind maps work more like the human mind and less like that of a computer than other options. It is certainly an excellent choice, considering its bargain price of $0, and for collaborators it is especially effective.

This is because a number of different users can easily work on the same mind map at the same time (the utility is Internet based) and their changes, thoughts and comments will all be clearly delineated from those of others. There is a large color palette available to help make the end result of such a collaborative mind map even more effective and the final product can be exported as a PDF or a PNG image.

Mindmeister

Mindmeister is a feature packed offering that is perhaps one of the easiest mind mapping softwares of all to use, making it a great and inexpensive choice for those who are new to the concept. It is also very easy to share maps with others, either via a simple link as the map is stored online on the Mindmeister servers, via an embed or in physical form as a PDF or JPG. Just how much you can do with it does depend on your subscription level though – which ranges from $4.99 to $14.99 a month – but a 30 day free trial is available to help you decide if this is indeed the right choice for you.

Mapul

Mapul differs from almost every other mind mapping software thanks to its casual, image driven interface that creates maps that better resemble the kind of handwritten ones you might create on a whiteboard. You can upload and import your own images or take them from the web to create a very visual map that may be better for those who tend to think in those terms anyway.

For $2.99 per month you do get a lot for your money, including the ability to share in many different ways both online and off, and permanent storage of your maps within the cloud.

XMind

XMind is considered by many to be the most impressively featured and useful mind mapping software of all, although its pricing is rather high (it starts at $79 and goes up from there.) It offers a wide range of map templates and styles, an almost endless color palette, a myriad of sharing options and the ability to collaborate with others completely in the cloud.

Given its price, Xmind is best suited to those who intend to make use of the concept of mind mapping a great deal, meaning that it may be too feature filled for some.

All of the mind mapping softwares discussed do offer a free trial and if you should find that none of them suit you there is always that old fallback of the whiteboard and marker, something that many find most appealing to use of all!

Koehler Home Decor is a wholesaler of home decor accessories and unique gifts. Source quality wholesale merchandise at KoehlerHomeDecor.com and find tips for promoting your business on our blog.
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