Does age have anything to do with coming up with new ideas for products and services? How young can you be? What about more mature people – do they have any restrictions on coming up with new ideas?
Kiowa Kavovit, a seven-year-old, is the youngest inventor to dive into Shark Tank, a TV show which invites entrepreneurs to pitch to a panel of potential investors. She has come up with idea for a roll-on patent-pending-translucent liquid compound that doesn’t peel off from the skin. Essentially it is a paint-on bandage called Boo Boo Goo. The paint-on bandage for scratches comes in a range of colours including pink.
The young entrepreneur says she was four years old when she came up with idea and six years old when she taped her pitch for the show last year.
She has been fortunate in that her father Andy Kavovit has been coaching her. He is an inventor himself and has come up with LeaveUpLights, a system of interior home LED lights that can be programmed to change colours with a holiday season.
Shark Tank features business pitches from aspiring entrepreneurs to a panel of potential investors who act like “sharks” in the ocean biting the entrepreneurs whenever they can. The “sharks” question the entrepreneur’s concept, product and business model. If the “sharks” find the product or service attractive enough they may well invest. Deals made on the show don’t always happen because the investor needs to vet the deal including product testing and closely checking the entrepreneur’s financials. Yet the publicity generated is massive because about 7 million viewers watch each episode.
While many so-called experts out there claim to have magical systems for generating ideas, their intentions aren’t always entirely honest because no one can guarantee success of any idea including the “sharks” on Shark Tank.
Innovation or coming up with new ideas isn’t something that can be reduced to a formula, turned into a formal structured process or be simplified into fixed rules. Nor can you just copy or imitate the methods of another company and expect fixed results.
The one thing that does seem to work more than anything else is having a business coach or adviser who can assist in the finer details of developing and implementing your business idea. A new idea, to be commercialise, needs evaluation, market testing, product development and testing, possible approvals from regulatory authorities, packaging, distribution, a retail strategy and a detailed implementation plan. Unless you have worked in new product development, it is going to be the case of reinventing the wheel and learning through trial and it up there are all along the way which may take away your competitive edge.
A new product that is unique such as the paint-on bandage is unusual for most would-be entrepreneurs. Very few inventions see the light of day because of the high new product failure rate. The same high failure rate applies to small businesses. This is why an entrepreneur with a new idea needs an experienced business adviser who can show them the ropes.
Usually entrepreneurs don’t really plan to run a business until they are fired, can’t find a job or are retrenched. Yes, I know, some of the millennials are trying to find businesses that more suited their lifestyles but this is the exception rather than the rule. Becoming an entrepreneur by default rather than design means that the small business owner usually does an opportunity scan for products and services that they can make easier, faster and cheaper. Some also just buy ready-made second-hand businesses if they can’t come up with any idea of their own. But this might be a good thing as they can weld their prior experience onto the second-hand business. For example, someone who’s worked in the hotel catering business could find an idea to get more value out of a small local restaurant business.
Anyone of any age can come up with a new business idea and secure a huge amounts of publicity on TV radio and in print media but the the challenge is in commercialising it. This challenge boils down to hard work, real money to invest in the project, product development and implementation guided by a business mentor or adviser who’s been down this road many times before. There is no guarantee that your product or service will make money and become profitable. A business coach or business adviser cannot guarantee any performance. All a business adviser or coach can do is to help guide your process with their expertise and skills. A business coach can’t do for you what you have to do yourself. It’s no different from hiring a lawyer, chartered accountant or consulting engineer.