Where do good ideas come from?

John Ward's House

John Ward’s House (Photo credit: Lawrence Whittemore)

If you think you’ll get your best ideas from standing in the shower think again. You might be lucky to receive a sudden flash of inspiration in the shower but most of these ideas are unlikely to be strong enough to launch a viable business.

The reason is simply that such “pure thought” will probably not be bounded in the reality of the marketplace. Sure, if you suddenly combined two concepts or objects that you had found in the marketplace, then your idea may hold promise. There are always exceptions to any general rule. Continue reading

How do you find an idea for a business?

40px|border|Flag Deutsch: Leysin: "Champs...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The other day I came across some business advice from a an enterprise organisation for a city that encourages new business start-ups. But the problem with this guide was that it assumed that you had already come up with the right business idea. There was no advice or tools on how to come up with or identify a right business.

Coming up with the right business idea proceeds a business plan. How can you start a business plan if you don’t have a business idea for a product or service that you’ve tested by doing basic market research or at least validating your idea in the marketplace? I found it a bit strange that the business adviser suggested that you should survey customers either through interviews or questionnaires (mail or email) before you’ve even had a chance to develop your business idea into a prototype or test service. The advice given was that you should start your market research by interviewing about 100 people if it’s a consumer business such as a restaurant or hairdressing salon but if it was a business product such as building materials you should talk to at least 20 builders. Continue reading

One secret to how innovators come up with brilliant ideas

Sound Ideas

Sound Ideas (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A study of innovators – people who come up with brilliant, game-changing ideas – found that the skills of associating, questioning, observing, experimenting and discovering makes the difference. Although it’s implied in questioning and perhaps observing, I would add listening as a key skill.

Innovators put together ideas and information in unique combinations. They connect or link information and observation in new ways.

They act differently which means that they observe actively, make contact with people they wouldn’t normally talk to and improve their questioning skills. Continue reading

Breakthrough ideas don’t happen overnight (how long do you have to wait?)

teaching material developed by maria montessori

teaching material developed by maria montessori (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I ordered a shipment of products. The delivery time was two weeks. When the products arrived in the country the courier company called about two days later and told me they would deliver in three days time. My products didn’t arrive on the third day. After kicking up a fuss, my products arrived late on the fourth day.

This local courier company that claims they are so fast with their deliveries added almost an extra week to the delivery time. They are the weakest link in an otherwise professional shipment chain that delivers on the promised delivery dates. Continue reading

How many of your ideas do you follow through with detailed action plans?

Fish & Chips shot at Palm Resorts, Karachi.

Fish & Chips shot at Palm Resorts, Karachi. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Someone I know came up with an idea for a new business selling fish and chips and other seafoods done in the traditional seafarers’ way. The idea for this restaurant excited the individual and he spoke a lot about it to family and friends. But this gourmet seafood takeaway still waits to be born.

Do you get a high when you come up with new business ideas? It’s almost as if the excitement of the idea feels like you’ve actually accomplished it already. It’s like the high you get from a top motivational speaker, pumping you up with inspiration till it’s pouring out your ears. But a day later you’ve forgotten it all and put nothing into practice. A new business idea for products and services is often a picture of the end result. But an idea doesn’t come with a plan for its implementation. Continue reading

Have you figured out your life’s purpose?


Creativity (Photo credit: Mediocre2010)

A few years ago I had reached a point where I was deeply unhappy where I was going in life. We all know that we are not here for long and I decided once and for all to figure out exactly what I wanted to do with the rest of my life.

I started a 12-module creativity programme to explore my past experiences, what was important to me and what I wanted to do. For one of the first times in my life I carried out every suggestion or prompt in the course, missing out nothing. Continue reading

Can imitation mean innovation?

I-5 Design & Manufacture | Continual Product I...

(Photo credit: I-5 Design & Manufacture)

With small business owners struggling in these recessionary times and many plunging into debt and being forced into bankruptcy, it would seem reckless to encourage new ideas for products and services.

Essentially, if you are going to start implementing new products and services, you’re in effect starting a new business. But then it can be said that when you pursue and secure a customer with any product or service you are actually in business.

Many people are being forced into creating a business of their own because of losing their jobs. This week we have seen how Pioneer Foods is retrenching 1,500 senior and middle managers, 10% of their 15,000 employee complement. Continue reading

How do you come up with that winning idea in your business?

The ColaLife Aid Pod anti-diarrhoea kit.

The ColaLife Aid Pod anti-diarrhoea kit.

Simon Berry came up with an idea to save millions of lives in rural areas in developing countries.

He found that the space between the bottles in the crates used to distribute Coca-Cola can be used to transport oral rehydration salts.

His invention is the ColaLife Aid Pod anti-diarrhoea kit.

It is a waterproof plastic wedge-shaped package for an anti-diarrhoea kit that rests on top and between bottles in Coca-Cola shipping crates.

The AidPod also helps protect people from reinfection. People fill the AidPod with water, add anti-bacteria powder and let the sun’s UV rays kill waterborne bacteria.

New ideas turn into products and services can help to save millions of lives. Continue reading

A young African innovator who turned an idea into a viable product

StawiTurning an idea into a viable product is often scoffed at by those who say it’s just for dreamers. And you’re sneered at if you learn or read how to go about becoming an entrepreneur because “you may as well give up before you start”.

Eric Muthomi, 26 years old, came up with an idea to process bananas from smallholder farmers in rural Kenya and process them into banana flour. He started his business Stawi Foods and Fruits after studying law and completing short courses in enterprise management. Continue reading

This entrepreneur didn’t need an incubator to hatch a motorised surfboard business

English: Mavericks Surf Contest 2010. Français...

English: Mavericks Surf Contest 2010. Français : Édition 2010 du concours de surf de Mavericks. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Chris Preston, an Australian surfer who damaged his shoulder a few years ago, has come up with a motorised surfboard for injured surfers would like to surf again.

Preston and his co-director, his wife Natalie, are launching Power Boards which will sell about 20 boards a month. Board prices, depending on board length, range between $4,200 and $4,700.

This is a great start-up story of an entrepreneur who spotted an opportunity and is motivated enough to make a go of his idea. It interesting that his idea came out of his surfing experience.

A surfing experience also led Anna Jerstrom, a Swede, to an idea for the Calavera range of bikinis designed to stay on no matter how rough the surf while on a surfing camp in Costa Rica. Continue reading