From the August 2002 issue of Startups

Once a year, my fellow editors and I gather off-site to discuss the December issue of Entrepreneur, in which we make our predictions of trends and issues that business owners need to be alert to in the upcoming year. We spend the meeting--which we'll be having again in a couple weeks here--entrenched in heavy brainstorming, recalling the happenings of the previous year to predict what lies ahead, and planning what we will write about in the December issue.

We have plenty of other meetings throughout the year, and plenty of other brainstorming sessions. But there's something about being off-site, at one of our houses, that gives this meeting a different dynamic. The atmosphere feels relaxed; the constant interruptions are limited to a few desperate phone calls; even the water tastes better. As a result, these meetings end up being highly productive.

As a homebased business owner, you may or may not have the need to meet with several other people to get your brainstorming done. It could be one or two people, or it could be 20, depending on the nature of your business. But no matter what type of business you have, a good brainstorming session, held somewhere other than the place where you conduct business day in and day out (your home), could prove invaluable.

You don't have to be elaborate about the location, either--a nice coffee shop or park bench might do just fine. Experiment a bit; go to different places and see what works. Just make sure you get out of the house and do it! And you don't limit yourself to once a year--do it anytime you feel inspired to view new surroundings.

If you only allow yourself to think of creative business ideas within the confines of your home office, you severely limit your ability to look at old problems in new ways. In contrast, when you plunk yourself down in unconventional surroundings for a while, you might find yourself at the peak of creativity--able to dream up solutions and ideas that would otherwise lie dormant in the depths of your subconscious.