Many new inventors suffer from a common malady:
Too Many Ideas – Too Few Products
I have touched on the subject in a variety of ways in prior posts. In essence, the problem is that many inventors approach inventing and product development more like a hobby than a business enterprise.
Consider this: hobbies consume capital in pursuit of enjoyable activities; successful businesses produce capital and (hopefully) profitability.
Ideas are merely the raw materials from which inventions and new products may result (stress on may).
Often a new inventor places too much value on the divination of a new idea; he develops it only until roadblocks arise, then he will quickly jump to another seemingly more attractive idea. Think of this approach as being analogous to a person chasing butterflies in a field: he may never actually capture any of the butterflies but is entranced in the chase. The result is as stated in the title of the post: too many ideas – too few products.
Below are at two approaches to addressing this dilemma:
- Cull ideas, retaining only the few that may yield truly useful innovative products
- Divide ideas into categories: can’t develop; might develop; probably develop
I wrote a previous post on culling product ideas.
Generally the best inventions are those that may be developed on a small budget, and the aha ideas that will resonate with a broad segment of potential buyers. Most inventors have limited budgets for their products and simply cannot develop ideas that are complex and require significant capital sums and labor to develop. Aha ideas are those whose benefits are immediately obvious with minimal explanation. Also, products that a large segment of the population will use, consume and buy again and again are ideal. Cull your ideas and pursue only those that look truly beneficial as described above.
It is productive to divide ideas into three categories:
- Those you cannot develop (or will not develop)
- Those you might develop (but you aren’t sure of real market potential)
- Those you probably will develop – you really want to pursue on your own
In category 1 are ideas that could require a lot of capital or development resources that you do not have. Some of these ideas could be successful products, but you cannot really develop them. Consider taking the most attractive ones in this category and proposing them to Quirky. If the idea looks interesting to Quirky developers, they may develop it into a product and could pay you a royalty on sales – without your having to invest in a patent (a very good deal indeed).
Category 2 ideas could be candidates for crowd funding sites such as Indiegogo or Kickstarter. You can spin up a project and a budget to develop the product and get it into the marketplace. If your project funds, it is a very low risk way to market test an idea you likely would not develop on your own from your own funds. In the best case scenario, the successful project might attract venture capital or other funding to take it into the marketplace in a bigger way.
Category 3 is the small number of ideas or concepts you truly want to take under your wings and develop on your own. These are the ideas still remaining after culling your large list of ideas.