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MaryEllen Tribby: Whose Idea Was it Anyway? (Part I)


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I know you want to start an online business but you don’t have an idea for a product. Or you need to add products to your current line-up. Or you have an idea but it is just not fully formed yet.

Well you are not alone. Many entrepreneurs get caught up in the feeling that they must create something new to be successful.

But very often, being first with a new product is not the best way to get started. In fact most successful entrepreneurs made their fortunes selling products similar to those others were already offering.

There are techniques for producing great product ideas. And it works for every aspect of your business from new product ideas to brainstorming your marketing campaigns.

The Ten Steps For Producing Profitable Product Ideas

  1. Identify the problem: You cannot solve a problem until you know exactly what that problem is. Yet so many entrepreneurs charge full steam ahead without really knowing what they are trying to accomplish.

    Don’t try to apply a solution before you have taken the time to accurately define the problem. Make a list of the problems your target market is facing. Think about what is keeping them up at night. Now pick the ONE you think you can solve. That’s the problem you must address.

  2. Assemble the pertinent facts: Professionals in every field know the importance of gathering specific data/facts. A scientist planning experiments checks the abstracts to see what similar experiments have been performed. An author writing a book collects everything he can on the subject from newspaper clippings, photos, official records, transcripts of interviews, and magazine articles. A business consultant may spend months researching a company before coming up with a solution to the company’s problems.

    Build a “swipe” file. This is an organized collection of successful promotions including newspaper and magazine ads, direct mail pieces, and email campaigns.

    Constantly study your file. Build simple excel spreadsheets or use a mind map to pull out solutions to the very problem you are trying to solve for your prospects.

    This step increases your familiarity with the background information and gives you a fresh perspective on the problem.

  3. Gather general knowledge: This has to do with the expertise you’ve developed in all aspects of your life: from events, people, marketing, technology, management, communications, selling, entrepreneurship, selling, parenting, the Internet and human psychology.

    You will accelerate your own education by becoming a student in the many areas that relate to your business. Subscribe to trade journals related to your field. Read books in your field and start a reverence library. Attend seminars, conference and trade shows. Network with people in your field and exchange information, stories, ideas and resources.

    The majority of SUCCESSFUL entrepreneurs are information junkies. By becoming one you can learn in a few short weeks what took others 20 or more years to accumulate.

  4. Look for combinations: Is there really such a thing as a completely new idea? Many ideas are simply a new combination of existing elements. By looking for combinations, for new relationships between old ideas you can come up with a fresh approach.

    Look for synergistic combinations when you examine the facts. Two things that can work together to form a third thing is a new idea. Take the clock-radio for example. It was invented by someone who just took two existing technologies to create a brand new product. If you have two devices, and each performs a function someone might need, can you link them together to create a new product?

  5. Sleep on it: Putting the problem aside for some time can help you renew your idea-producing powers just when you think your creative well has run dry. But this is only after you have gathered all the information you possibly can and you have gone over that information again and again.

    Once you have come to the point where you are so punch drunk from hashing the ideas over and over – it’s time to take a break. Put the problem aside and let your unconscious mind take over.

    The solution may come to you in the shower, at your kid’s soccer game or while you are exercising. Even if not, once you return to your problem, you will find you can attack it with a fresh perspective.

Next week check in for the final five steps for profitable product ideas!

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