Oct 7, 2010

How to Find Product Ideas

??? ideas.... easy? hard? POSSIBLE!

Students can discover product ideas: If you are currently a student, you have an opportunity in front of you. For example, take Mark Zuckerberg, Founder of Facebook. In 2002, Zuckerberg graduated from High School. Facebook did not exist. Two years later at Harvard, the birth of Facemash led to Facebook, which today has over 500 million users and is valued at over $5 billion dollars. Facebook was a utility, in essence, to create ways to communicate on a global scale. Zuckerberg executed the idea with extreme focus, and this is why Facebook is the success it is today.

Unemployed can discover product ideas: If you are currently unemployed, you have an opportunity in front of you. Matt Morris, author of The Unemployed Millionaire, shares secrets how he went from broke and down and out to a millionaire twenty times over. You can do it, too. Just one product idea can motivate you to stop watching television and start launching your own business. What are you waiting for? Time is your biggest asset, and you have plenty of it right now. Use it wisely!

Employed people can find product ideas: If you are currently employed, you have an opportunity in front of you, too. While you may have less time in front of you to take action, you also probably have more financial resources at your disposal to outsource different tasks to people who can help accelerate the growth of your business. You also can hire a coach to help you stay on track and help you launch your product successfully.

In case you are thinking "How can I do that?" I will share a few ideas to help you get started.

First, here are three ways to come up with product ideas:

1. The "Why don't they...?" question:

"Why don't they have a _____?"

2. The I hate statement:

"I hate ______ (product). I wish these would do _______."

3. The I would LOVE Question:
"If only _____ did _____, I would love it!"
If you ever find yourself asking one of those questions or making one of those statements, you have a product or service idea in front of you. For example, in 2007, I was attending the San Jose Jazz Festival. While listening to the music, I turned to my girlfriend at the time and said, "Why don't we have one of these in our home town?" Thus, the idea for a music festival was born. I investigated, and no jazz festival had ever been held in my home town. I created a team, raised funding, and opened a non-profit corporation. We are now planning our first festival in September 2011! You will notice the idea started with the question phrase "Why don't we...?" Any time you hear or use that phrase, you might just be onto something.
Just last week, I decided I wanted a product for some of the work I do. However, when I tried to buy one at my local store, they had nothing like it. I went online and guess what? It didn't exist there, either. In fact, the existing products I COULD buy I don't even like. Considering this, I consider that product category RIPE for INNOVATION. Have you made such a discovery yourself? If you do, you are onto a product idea.
The product idea started with "I hate _____." I used that phrase to describe the product I currently use. I also used the phrase "I would love this ______ (product) if it looked like ______ (description of product) and was more comfortable. I want something better. Thus, I will create it. (Sorry, I cannot yet name the product as I'm still going through the branding/trademark/patent process to protect my idea.) I used both the "I hate _____" and "I wish my _____ did ______" to come up with this new idea.
Find a hole or niche in the market, then move to exploit it!
Once you have a product idea, you must do several things:
First, hire a patent attorney. Run a trademark search and patent search and see if there is anything like it you need to be concerned about. Consider all the possibilities of innovation with your product, then file the patent and trademarks to protect your idea.
Second, hire a business launch coach (hint, hint). You'd be surprised, but these guys have been there, done that, and know the difference between focus and scatter, hard work and luck, and success and failure. You want someone who can help you find your way through the crazy decisions facing you with focused effort. If you cannot figure that out yourself, then by all means hire a coach.
Third, write a short business plan. You need to work from a plan. Do you know what step comes next? A business plan will lay this out for you and bring clarity to required actions. If you need help with a simple plan, I have several tools I make available to clients when they hire me as coach that will help you get your plan started in HOURS rather than WEEKS. I love helping people save time. But whether you hire out help or write it yourself, get started, figure out what you need, and then get to it. Without a plan, you plan to fail, so write down an action plan.
Fourth, build a team. When you build a team, do not go crazy. Remember, you don't have money to pay anyone yet. Even if you do, why do that? Outsource, hire independent contractors, and use stock for the difference. The first person to bring on board after your business coach is either COO or CFO. You need someone to help run the company and someone to help manage the money. You may also need a marketing firm to help. I tend to find marketing experts who will work as independent contractors, so I would recommend that path, first, before hiring to bring that function in house.
As you can see, it is not rocket science to find product ideas and start your own business. But you must take ACTION. If you sit around and watch everyone else, you never do anything. Watch for when people say the triggers to product ideas, and pay attention if you catch your own voice saying "I wish we had.... ______." It just might be your next BIG IDEA.

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1 comment:

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