Coming up with new business ideas for products and services involves observation, listening especially, especially to gripes, and reading in your chosen area of interest. These are the tools we all have, some more developed than others, and that with effort and imagination we can spot opportunities. This is particularly so when we make connections between unrelated or random thoughts, concepts, ideas, and objects.
But what should we do when we are stuck or simply need to explore ideas? This is when we can use idea generation tools to show us new possibilities for products and services. Using idea-generation tools and techniques we will be able to come up with more ideas than we can use. This increases our opportunities for coming up with better ideas and perhaps even breakthrough ideas.
Let’s look at a simple example to highlight the value of generating ideas in quantity. Top commercial photographers for high-readership, quality magazines take many photographs before they find one that will perfectly illustrate their subject of interest. In National Geographic’s “50 Greatest Pictures” some of the behind-the-scenes secrets were given. One sentence shows just how much trial and error goes into shooting iconic images:
Reading, watching a movie or overhearing someone complain.
Let’s briefly go through the abilities all of us have to find ideas – observation, listening and questioning.
Observing for ideas
Observation is something we do all the time. We watch people; we observe what they do, observe how they are dressed and see what they buy.
From our observations we connect ideas with those we see to form new and better products and services.
We may, for example, come across a flower delivery service. Then observe at another time home-made chocolate being made, connect these two ideas and fuse them into something like a delivery service for chocolate gifts on special occasions. Continue reading “How to get ideas”
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”
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”
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?”
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 www.ideaaccelerator.co.za 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.
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.
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.
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.