How to avoid getting lost in the idea-generation woods

Bush Suicide
(Photo credit: bixentro)

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. Continue reading “How to avoid getting lost in the idea-generation woods”

New business ideas – why should small businesses care

Cash (Photo credit:

Why are ideas so important to our lives and particularly for our business ventures?

Ideas are as essential to our lives as is breathing. Just think about how many ideas you come up with in a day at home, at work and at play.

For small business owners and those who want to form start-ups to sell and market their own products and services idea generation is absolutely vital for competitiveness and to make money. We need ideas because we are living in times that are changing, dynamic and challenging.

You see it all over the place: in shopping centres, on websites and blogs, in magazines and newspapers and on radio and television. People are coming up with new business ideas all the time to provide products and services to prospective customers so that the value that they create is bought by customers and that the business owners are able to bring in income. Continue reading “New business ideas – why should small businesses care”

Come on! It can’t be this easy to get ideas can it?

Ideas for recycling

A reader asked me this question after reading “Creativity sucks. Or does it?” last week:

QUESTION: I read your blog post on “Creativity sucks” and wondered whether you are for imitation rather than generating original ideas. What gives?

CHESNEY: First off, I don’t want to offer any stuffy definitions about original ideas and imitation. Let’s be clear: Imitation doesn’t mean wholesale or complete copying of someone else’s idea. You still need to generate ideas to come up with a product or service that is different from those already introduced or you will just be giving customers what they can buy elsewhere. You need a distinct point of differentiation.

What I tried to get across was that imitation can involve creativity. Duplication or direct copying is not. Let’s face it; imitation is not about mindless copying of others ideas, products and services. The fast follower needs creative imagination to come up with a product or service that is similar but different what’s already on the market. Continue reading “Come on! It can’t be this easy to get ideas can it?”

Kill your creative ideas! It’s innovation that counts

Kill your creative ideas!When people think about creativity associations that come to mind are playing silly games, drawing with crayons and coming up with ideas on flipcharts that are so unrelated to real-life that it seems that they are just one big fantasy.

No wonder why many people dislike talk about creativity or even fear creativity.

Creativity requires uncertainty because it usually involves something that we have not done before. New ideas can be scary. And when one faces uncertainty fear increases: creative ideas can make one look foolish or lead you to doing something stupid. This is why it’s often better to get yourself in a relaxed state no matter what the circumstances to come up with new ways to solve important problems.

At we hardly ever talk about creativity, treating it cautiously so as not to put you off. The number of negative associations with the word and the process of creativity is a large field quite distinct from the world of innovation and particularly innovation in small business.

Continue reading “Kill your creative ideas! It’s innovation that counts”

Do you want to come up with money-making ideas?

It Seemed Like a Good Idea at the Time
It Seemed Like a Good Idea at the Time (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

If you can generate your own ideas … and enough of them… you stand a strong chance of coming up with a potential money-making product or service. I say “potential” because an idea is worthless unless it is actioned and implemented.

Over many years, I have generated thousands of ideas. Ideas for start-ups, for people aspiring to start a sideline income venture to small businesses. I’ve seen ordinary people with no special business qualifications grow in a short time.

All with idea-generation techniques and methods that work.

Some say that the easy part is to generate ideas. The hardest part, much harder, is to develop and implement your great ideas.

Don’t get me wrong, I agree that ideas are dime a dozen. And that they’re worthless unless implemented. But where I differ: there are proven ways to come up with better quality ideas (and in quantity) that can result in innovative products and services.

One more thing, it’s important. There’s a big misunderstanding about idea-generation … most people wait for ideas to come to them (and they may sadly wait years) rather than use proven idea-generation techniques to spur a torrent of great ideas.

If you’ve been reading, you know I rarely, if ever, sell my idea-generation services through my blog. Continue reading “Do you want to come up with money-making ideas?”

Creativity sucks. Or does it?

English: Apple iPod mini grey.
Apple iPod (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The world’s first mass-produced hardware MP3 player was created in 1997 by Saehan Information Systems, which sold its “MPMan” domestically in 1998. In mid-1998, the South Korean company licensed the players for North American distribution to Eiger Labs, which rebranded them as the Eiger MPMan F10 and F20. The flash-based players were available in 32 MB (about 6 songs) storage capacity.

Saehan was the originator and innovator of this breakthrough new product. But look what happened next. In 2001, Apple Computer unveiled the first generation iPod, with far more memory and a new business model. The company took a product already on the market and radically transformed it. The rest is history.

Researchers have found that imitating products and services can be even more valuable than inventing something new. A researcher who has delved into copycats found that almost 98% of the value generated by innovations is captured not by the innovators but by imitator.

Why’s this? Well, the original idea often faces a hard battle because of the investment it takes to educate potential customers about the benefits of the product or service. Then there’s selling and distribution which requires deep pockets. And without scale, which larger companies are usually much better equipped to handle, manufacturing costs keep the product at a high price making it accessible mainly to a high-end niche market. The costs of imitation are typically 60-75% the costs of innovation. MpMan F-10 (1997)

Pathfinders face the hardest road to market. This old saying pretty much sums it up: “You can always tell who the pioneers are because they have arrows in their back and are lying face down in the dirt.” Pioneers have arrows in their backs but fast followers often have the advantage. Half the pioneering startups entering new markets fail. Fast followers enter much later than the pioneers but achieve far greater sustainable success. Pioneers, who create new markets, generally end up with around 7% of the markets they create. Copycats secure the balance.

Continue reading “Creativity sucks. Or does it?”

The dark side of disruptive technologies and innovation

Destruction Cover
Destruction (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Imagine a world in which there are no longer pimps and madams taking their middle cut of the business. Hard isn’t it? Well, some pundits believe these “jobs” will virtually disappear because of disruptive technologies and innovation. Craigslist and other online services, where workers can transact business direct with customers, will chop the middle person.

With the recession, job cuts and dynamically changing markets, many jobs have begun to go into decline or disappear. In the office, filing clerks, typists, telephonists and secretaries have been disappearing. So, too, have assemblers, metalworkers, toolmakers, sewing machinists and printers in the industrial and manufacturing sectors.

Over a long period disruptive technologies and innovation have all but wiped out microfilm professionals, photo lab technicians, photo-typositors, typesetters and stenographers.

Who’s next? Bookstore owners, bookbinders, meter readers, webmasters, flight booking agents, printers and print encyclopedia personnel?

Disruptive technologies and innovation can also lead to new jobs and careers. Some of the job titles predicted for the future may sound strange but think how weird web designer must have been for many in the 1990s. Green jobs may include a “cloud controller” (someone who helps clouds reflect solar radiation), “simplicity consultant” (a person who simplifies and streamlines processes, products and services in companies) and bioinformationist scientist (who combines genetic information with drug development and clinical techniques). Already bioformatician is a job description used in pharmaceutical companies. Continue reading “The dark side of disruptive technologies and innovation”

How does a small business exploit disruptive innovation?

WikiWorld comic based on article about Disrupt...
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’ve been hearing a lot about disruptive technologies lately … at conferences, from small business owners in the web hosting and web design business and companies seeking business advantage in green products.

We’ve all seen technologies such as microwave ovens, memory storage and the Internet change our world whether as consumers or in businesses.

What exactly are disruptive technologies and how does this term differ from disruptive innovation?

Disruptive technology refers to new technologies that provide better performance than existing technologies or replace them. A simple example is that of seven-single records that were replaced by CDs and then by MP3s.

Disruptive innovation is any innovation whether technological or a business model that leads to the creation of a new market. Another simple example: cars were a technological innovation initially but were expensive and a luxury. But the disruptive innovation came about through mass-production of low-cost vehicles, the Ford Model T being the first, which revolutionised personal transport.

Most businesses are focused on incremental improvements, making existing products better, rather than introducing breakthrough products and services. When these larger businesses introduce their improved products and services, they usually aim at selling to their demanding base of existing customers to keep them. Examples could be high performance cars, higher spec smartphones and photocopiers with fast speeds and print-like quality.

Continue reading “How does a small business exploit disruptive innovation?”

What to do if Darth Vader rocks up at your brainstorming session

Star Wars - Darth Vader
Star Wars - Darth Vader (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

How do you know when you have Darth Vader in your brainstorming session?

When everyone has clammed up, is afraid to speak up and scared that their ideas will be dissed.

“I find your lack of faith disturbing,” says Darth Vader, destroying the confidence of all timid souls and crushing your quieter participants.

“The force is with you, young Skywalker, but you are not a Jedi yet,” is bound to demotivate all but the strongest members of your team who may believe they have the “force” of innovation coursing through their veins.

Strong personalities can present a challenge to brainstormers. Especially when the strong personality dominates and puts other team members down. Continue reading “What to do if Darth Vader rocks up at your brainstorming session”

How do you turn your small business into an innovation machine?

Innovation (Photo credit: Seth1492)

A dog day care business faced stiff competition with similar businesses starting up. The owner decided to introduce new services such as caring for older, sickly pets, offering on-site vaccinations and placing webcams in the facility so owners could check their pets anytime. This innovation helped the business expand from 11 locations to 100 franchise outlets and wholly-owned shops.

The perception exists that small businesses are not as innovative as larger companies. Yet while this may be true for common village professionals like shopkeepers, real estate agents, plumbers, lawyers and doctors, many small business owners are highly innovative.

Why is innovation so important to small businesses? Continue reading “How do you turn your small business into an innovation machine?”