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Product Development: Creating A Winning Idea For YOUR Startup (Step 1)

Ive never tried to get this very personal process down in one place before.

From idea through to a real business step by step with as many of my own personal techniques and suggestions thrown in as we go.

There are rainforest amounts of books printed about peoples startup experiences “ what Id like to try here is to write about the real techniques and steps I have been through many times before when taking a new business idea and working to move it through to a real product or service.

Hopefully a more grounded approach than some of those ˜How to or ˜My experience as an Entrepreneur books.”

Well, we’ll see. Questions and comments welcome!

So, want to start a business?

Have the necessary passion to start a new business but are unsure where to start?

Looking for that new, innovative, winning new business idea?

Or perhaps youre waiting for divine inspiration to serve up that winning idea like money from heaven before you actually get up off that sofa and GO FOR IT.

Sorry to burst your bubble but waiting on the sofa, wont make it happen. The only thing you’ll get is sofa rash!

So how do you get that divine inspiration?

You have to ˜create it yourself. But maybe its closer and easier to get than you think, maybe you can come up with that idea today and do you know what else? Even a mediocre idea can grow and develop as you go through the process of thinking, refining, testing and, just like chipping away at a piece of stone – the beauty of what’s inside may get revealed…

Here are a few ways that work for me as a way of getting to that beauty inside “ so much so that theyve become almost unconscious processes that happen on autopilot and better yet, they’re easy.

Give them a try – and leave me your comments and thoughts if they did (or didn’t work…) for you!

When asked where my ideas for new business come from I often joke that its a ˜disease, something which is uncontrolled, being delivered in the grey matter between my ears without conscious thought or a process. Thats close, but not exactly how it happens.

Let me take you back to give you an insight into the process…

During my first interview for a role at Procter & Gamble fresh out university one interview question still sticks with me. The interviewer passed a glass across the table and asked me to name ten uses for it. Use number 1 was¦a glass, she was unimpressed.

Use number 2 was a paper weight, (better but still no cigar),

number 3 was a lens to read small print in a document and before I knew what had happened, ten different and increasingly creative (read “ crazy) uses had spilled out in the interview room.

That process is not too dissimilar from the process you could try. This redeployment of one product idea (in my case stackable Pringles) into another product category (Fire Escape Ladders) helped me come up with the idea for my first company, X-IT Products to produce an idea Id had for the worlds smallest, safest, strongest fire escape ladder.

A refinement on that creative free thinking is what well call ˜What if. Find a product, web service or business that is in the space that you are passionate about and really impresses you. Thought of it?

Whats great about that business?

What do you really like about it? Now think about what would make it even better?

What would take it from being a great business and make it a world class business.

Write down every idea that comes to you…go on…

…and when you feel yourself drying up, read through the list and see if that squeezes any more ideas out of you. Take a read through that list and see if any light bulbs go off in your head “ any really obvious improvements or refinements to that already great business?

The third approach that might work even better for you is what Ill call the ˜Pissed Off brainstorm.”

Has a product, service or business failed to live up to its promise?

Maybe they over sold you or your expectations were mis-aligned with the reality of the business. Maybe they screwed up or the product was faulty. Perhaps they dont exactly meet your need. But who cares? You do, because this is an opportunity to figure out what the business or product needed to do to deliver on its promise, to meet and exceed your expectations. And if they arent meeting your needs because of some flaw, figure out what needs to happen to solve it.

Lets try an example, Im driving from New York to Philadelphia “ its lunch time and Im hungry. Watching the signs as I travel, what are my options? Ah, here we are “ McDonalds, Wendys, Dunkin Donuts and a few no-brand obscure Italian restaurants. More often than not if Im hungry enough, Ill drive through and buy something. But just once, wouldnt it be good if I could get something that was healthier. Its true that most of these places sell salads but then the light bulb goes off! Before Whole Foods selling organic and more ˜wholesome food, most supermarkets were similar. Whole Foods changed the supermarket ˜game “ what about a motor way food joint that changes the game in the same way as Whole Foods? A quick, drive through that offers freshly prepared, all organic, non-greasy, non-salad food? As of today, at least on the routes I drive, they would be the only food chain of its type. Talk about cornering an underserved market. Surely not everyone wants a burger or a slice of pizza? Is this a winning idea? Who knows but it could make someone a lot of money if it takes off. Dont forget my percentage if you make this one a reality!

And the last approach for today is the new business mashup approach – remember those business you thought of above? You know – those cool products or services that got your juices flowing?

So what would happen if you could bring a few of them together? Anything interesting there? How about this…take a web based service that really rocks your world and consider how it can be repacked for a growing market. Say – the Twitter community…anything coming through yet?

So, there are other ways that these ideas are created but hopefully these few are good as a start, so:

Product Design New Application: Think of how one product or design can be re-deployed to solve other problems

Startup Concept Development

  • What If?: How could a great product or business be a ˜world class business? How does it need to change or improve?
  • The Pissed Off Brainstorm: If only X did it this way¦.why couldnt they just do Y?
  • The mashup approach

Try these approaches and see where they take you. Feel free to come back and post how you get on.

Maybe then I can write an article on some ˜what to do next steps for your new winning idea.

When you find your winning idea then you are already further along than most ˜would be entrepreneurs, now to GO an make it a reality.

And if this post takes you to that industry changing idea which makes you bazzillions…remember my cut! It all started HERE!

And consider joining my mailing list so I can update you when they are more posts even better than this one 😉