Where do good ideas come from?

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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.

New business ideas that hold promise – and the potential to be shaped, moulded and revised – seem to come from a deeper source. That source is more related to intention and motivation than ideas that pop out of the blue fully formed.

Before this sounds all theoretical let me give you an example. John Bremner was looking to take a voluntary redundancy package from the distribution company he was working for. His intention was to find a business idea. He went about gaining qualifications in advance computing and did research in a local library and online.

He came up with an idea for a business called “The Green Engineer”. His business offers maintenance, modernisation, installation and repair services for the residential market in electrical, plumbing, heating and renewable energy. In the future he wants to focus more on renewables from rainwater harvesting to domestic heat recovery systems.

What seems to have happened here is that John had the intentional motivation to find an income after leaving his job. This motivation led him to coming up with the concept of his green business in the residential market.

As Guy Kawasaki says, your minimum viable product should go beyond being just viable; it should also be valuable. He believes a product should also make people’s lives better. A great product or service must, says Kawasaki, embody five qualities: it must be deep, intelligent, complete, empowering and elegant.

Starting out with an intention to create a business, product or service that makes a difference rather than only money can perhaps lead to an idea that is not only viable but also valuable, validating and innovative.

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