How to avoid getting lost in the idea-generation woods

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Do you need to come up with new business ideas fast?

So urgently that it feels that you’ve got a gun against your head?

I’ll let you into the two main ways to come up with money-making ideas for products and services even if you have no experience.

Are you ready?

Let’s get started.

You can use idea-generation techniques to come up with your own original ideas. For people wanting to generate ideas for products and services this can be the most risky approach. Why? Because original ideas may be too far ahead of your potential customers.

We’re not talking about an original recipe for a new chilli sauce here. These condiment products have been on the market for decades. Think of a product such as James Dyson’s bag-less vacuum cleaner. It took years for such a new invention to be accepted by the marketplace.

New and original often equals big money on educating the consumer or business person. Idea-driven start-ups face difficulties in trying to make money. It’s not impossible but it’s best that you are warned up front about the obstacles you’ll battle against. When you need income in a hurry, you can’t wait for years to develop and have your new product or services accepted in the market.

The other main way to find an idea for products and services is known as the market-driven approach. Here you find market segments and locate a niche big enough to target. Research what prospective customers are already buying and generate ideas on how you could strip down a product or service and make it available cheaper.

Garden services may be offering comprehensive maintenance such as mowing lawns, trimming shrubs and cleaning pools. If you have the skills and passion, you could offer to maintain all outdoor and indoor plants and advise on new plants and replacements as well as purchase and plant them for the homeowner. You could also offer such a service to a medium-size or large business. This way you can specialise and focus on a section of the market. You may win fewer customers than the regular Garden services but you have far better margins.

So if you want to get going quickly, choose a growing market and generate ideas for a better product or service. In fact, imitation is often more valuable than innovation. Researchers in business have found that almost 98% of the value generated by innovations was captured not by the original innovators but by the copycats. This is not to say that copyright, patents and trademarks should be ignored. That’s illegal. Often the imitator will take on an existing product or service, strip it down and develop a product or service for least-demanding customers in a niche rather than face big companies with bells and whistles products or services in established and entrenched markets.

Here’s where you’re probably wondering why imitation should be held as a route to follow. Haven’t we been taught from a young age at school that originality is to be praised and revered? Imitation is frowned upon. It’s something that is done by people lacking imagination and creativity. But hold on. In the real world imitation can be found everywhere: in art, literature, fashion, food, retailers, websites.

Many so-called new ideas are often merely a twist on an existing idea. Even “retro” products, such as radios, watches, kettles and toasters, which are borrowed from yesteryear, derived from the original products that have been modified to appeal to today’s market.

Yes, you could argue that the modifications are new ideas in themselves and represent creative ideas and concepts. I’m not going to argue that. For imitators to come up with new products and services requires leaps of imagination and innovation. Think of that Apple iPod. It was by no means the first MP3 player on the market. The first was the MPMan, introduce some years before by Saehan. It could only store about six songs and had limited market penetration. The imitator iPod not only revolutionised storage but brought about an entirely new music distribution and business model.

There you have it – the two main ways to come up with new business ideas. Remember this when you are looking for ways to come up with a new product or service. These are the main two paths. It’s your choice. Just make sure that the path you take doesn’t land you up in the woods. Choose carefully and you’ll know exactly where you are headed.

Stay inspired
Chesney Bradshaw

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