How to Create a Mind Map (And the Best Apps for It)

Yura Bryant Updated on February 29, 2020

mind map

As entrepreneurs, we tend to have a lot of new ideas that we want to turn into a business.

Have you ever had a big idea? Your original idea is your grand vision, and the flurry of ideas that follow are what work to make your vision happen.

Well, too often, we take these ideas and run with them, without ever fully fleshing them out.

What usually follows are bad results, typically ending in failure.

But our ambition isn’t the cause of our failure. We fail when we do not implement an effective strategy to make our ideas a reality.

Organizing Ideas

Without organization, we have no way to coordinate our actions.

Let’s say you are thinking about starting an online business. Instead of coming up with an initial business concept and thinking out connected follow-up plans to support its development, you consider every idea that pops into your head as a new business venture to explore.

Your business becomes fragmented, and the pieces are too hard to juggle.

Do you know why this occurs?

It is because you kept everything stored in your head.

When an idea only exists in your mind, you tend to build it up. It starts to manifest as the next great business breakthrough.

Once you actually write it out, you begin to realize that it needs a lot more work.

This doesn’t mean simply writing down your idea and making a generic list of what the concept requires to become a reality.

Here’s an example of that:

Buying and Selling Websites

  • Find Interesting Websites
  • Determine Value of Websites
  • Purchase Websites
  • Make Money

While that may be the gist of the process, it is still a pretty limited and generic list is.

It just makes points, instead of diving deeper into the points  to develop a strong business foundation.

When you plan to bring your idea into the world, you must explore your options to start off strong. You want to get as detailed as possible.

What is a Mind Map?

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Photo Credit:

A mind map is a very detailed breakdown of your central idea.

It is a diagram to flesh out your initial idea. Essentially, you surround it with supporting ideas that illustrate how the idea should be developed.

Many of the great businesses that you know use mind mapping as a tool to improve their company’s efficiency and performance.

  • Proctor and Gamble uses mind mapping to improve idea organization and patent management for the Oral-B product line.
  • Dow Six Sigma Expertise Center helps the company save time with a single platform to share ideas. Mind mapping is used as a standard tool for both virtual and in-person meetings.
  • Electronic Arts uses mind mapping to bring teams from around the world together and make meetings more efficient.
  • SAP: “We first started out using MindMeister for casual means, but it quickly became an indispensable tool for our projects.” – Srikanth Rajamani

Or, sometimes it just helps you figure out how all those different thoughts might be connected. Remember, the more ideas stay inside your head, the bigger and more intangible they get, without ever becoming a reality.

Mind mapping helps to flesh out creative thinking by connecting each thought so they align to work harmoniously with one another.

This method of developing ideas is especially helpful when teams are involved.

Smart organizations understand that they cannot build great products or great services if their team doesn’t operate with synergy. The best way to get everyone on the same page, thinking with the same focused mindset, is to let them have a mind mapping session.

When this occurs, not only does everyone understand the big idea, they also learn firsthand how everyone else on the team thinks. This helps to increase effective internal communication, leading to better results.

Do you see how a little diagram of bubbles and arrows creates big accomplishments?

Mind Mapping for Innovation

You have a business, but you are not seeing the results that you want. You work extremely hard, but nothing seems to change. You are frustrated because you believed that hard work would lead to successful results.

Your problem: You work hard, but you don’t work smart.

Let’s use an online business as an example.

Operating an online business can be very lucrative, but only when you have a well-designed strategy that allows your business activities to flow with minimal interruptions.

Yet, there are so many parts that go into operating an online business. You may have content to create, products or services to develop, ads to maintain, marketing campaigns to develop, customer support to manage, web design to experiment with, automation to implement, payments to collect, sales funnels to to create, website maintenance to manage, and more.

It can be a lot to handle, and often presents more challenges than people thought owning an online business would.

When trouble arises, they are scrambling trying to find an answer, and their business fails because they end up being reactive rather than proactive.

In order to be proactive, you need to break the entire business down into manageable processes. This helps you to not get overwhelmed, as you forget about important information when your mind is all over the place.

Having a mind that is clear to operate on a high level enables the creative process.

Your creativity needs to be fleshed out and reinforced

People have huge ideas when thinking about starting an online business.

Mind mapping is a must for developing products or services. Your motivation for creating products and services is to make money. But money cannot be made if you don’t understand how to properly position your product or service.

You have to look at your product or service from all angles.

  • What is the purpose of creating this?
  • Who is my target audience?
  • What value am I providing?
  • What is the cost associated with producing this?
  • What is the cost for promotion?
  • How do I effectively communicate value in order to entice purchases?
  • What should my pricing be?

Without laying all of this information out, you would be clueless as to how your business is supposed to function.

You would be doing a lot of guessing and learning the hard way instead of experiencing consistent progression. Connecting the dots, as many call it.

Hopefully, you now understand mind mapping as an essential tool for developing your ideas, rather than a useless waste of time that keeps you away from launching your Minimum Viable Product.

While you can create a mind map as simply as sketching out your plans on the back of a napkin, there are also a number of programs and apps that will help you:

Free Software


coggle (1)

To get started with Coggle, all you need to do is sign in with a Google account. This web app is a basic mind mapping tool. You can edit items, add branches, and assign different colors to your branches in order to categorize your ideas. When your mind map is complete, you can download it as a PDF or PNG. You are able to share with your team, who can just view the map or be given the ability to edit the diagram. With auto-saving and revision history, you are able to see what your mind map looked like throughout its development.

There are free and paid versions of this software. The free version — ideal for occasional use — allows you one private diagram and unlimited public diagrams.

bubbl (1)

Bubbl allows for you to jump right in and get started on your mind map, but in order to save your map, you will need to register to the site.  You can complete your registration via email, Google, or Facebook.  During the process of completing your work, you can view your mind map in presentation mode, allowing you to see the map as a member of your team, rather than seeing it in brainstorming mode. Your mind map can be saved as a JPG image, PNG image, or HTML outline. Bubbl can be used on both desktop and mobile platforms. No download or install is needed; You only need to bookmark the the website.


freemind-6 (1)

Freemind is a general public licensed app built in Java. It has to be downloaded in order to be used. It is a powerful mind mapping tool. It offers complex diagrams and plenty of graphics and icons to differentiate notes and connect them. You also have the option to embed links and multimedia in your mind maps for reference. Your map can be exported as HTML/ XHTML, PDF, OpenDocument, SVG, or PNG.

Paid Software


MJ-GANTT-FULL-map-view (1)

Beyond being a mind mapping software, Mindjet is a total suite of applications and tools designed to help your team effectively communicate and work. You are provided the ability to brainstorm, stay on top of projects, collaborate on tasks, and stay organized as a team. It can be viewed as a complete project management and collaboration suite. It also integrates with Microsoft Office. The cost is $15 per user/month for the individual plan. $30 per user/month for the enterprise plan.

The companies that use Mindjet include: Dow, BMW, Microsoft, Pfizer, P&G, and Cisco.


xmind (1)

Billed as the most popular mind mapping tool on the planet, this is an extremely flexible software that works well on any desktop operating system. The software makes it easy to organize your ideas with a variety of different styles, diagrams, and designs. You have the option of using simple mind maps or you can choose fishbone diagrams if you prefer them. Images and icons can be added to differentiate specific ideas and parts of a project. Links and multimedia can also be added to mind maps. Although it can be downloaded for free, the paid versions of this software are a bit pricy. The Plus version is a $79 one-time fee. The Pro version is a $99 one-time fee. A subscription to Pro and its updates is $79 per year.

The companies that use XMind include: Barclays, Rovio, the European Parliament, Continental, and Netpioneer.


mindnodemac-01- (1)

MindNode is an effective mind mapping app for OS X and iOS. The iOS version is designed to work on touchscreen devices, making it easy to drag your thoughts around and connect them. The Mac version does the same, while allowing you to export your mind map as a PDF or as a Freemind project. Branches can be hidden that have nothing to do with a section you are working on. Images, screenshots, and links can be embedded. Your branches supporting your ideas can also be automatically organized if they get too disorganized. The price is $20 for the Mac app, and $10 for the iPad/ iPhone app.

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Implement Mind Mapping

If you want to build a successful business, it has to be supported by successful ideas.

The best way to develop successful ideas is by getting them out of your head and pulling all the details out of them.

You can choose to mind map by hand, or you can use one of the apps mentioned above. You can also do it on your own, or if you have a team, it’s a great way to involve them in your brainstorming process.

Whatever you choose, make the choice to use mind mapping as an effective strategic tool.

What could be the harm of implementing mind mapping into your business?

Who knows, it might help you turn your next big idea into your next profitable success.

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