In general, entrepreneurs are brimming with creative ideas for what may become the next best thing since sliced bread. However, not every idea is necessarily good, and many inventors waste valuable time and energy chasing a concept that may already exist on the market, or might never reach fruition simply due to a lack of consumer demand. How then can inventors discriminate between the profitable ideas and the ideas that fall flat?
In this two-part series, I will discuss the main elements that every inventor needs in order to evaluate the quality of their latest idea.
Figure out what problem your invention solves. Few consumers have the luxury of purchasing items that have no purpose. Instead, consumers are looking for ways to meet their needs. Will your product be the answer to some universal problem? For example, if you have designed a new material for use in chew toys for dogs, what problem is this new material designed to answer? Is it meant to be durable enough for the powerful jaws of a heavy chewer? Made of a material that decomposes quickly if ingested to prevent gastro-intestinal blockage? Easy to clean in a dishwasher? By establishing a clear and straightforward purpose for your product, you can determine whether or not it will be successful.
Will consumers use your solution? Evaluate the other options on the market and take stock of how your product is different. Take the initiative to learn all you can about current processes and the tools required for dealing with the issue your invention addresses. Make sure that your idea will be cheaper and more effective at solving the consumers’ problem than inventions that already exist. If your new chew toy material is pretty much the same as the one used by larger manufacturers, consumers are more likely to choose the brand they recognize.
Define which consumers will purchase and use the product. If your idea is something that consumers will use, develop your market strategy around the exact consumer demographic you are trying to reach. Continuing with the example of the chew toy material, evaluate the type of person that has a legitimate need for the product. Be as specific as possible. If the material is highly durable, your demographic is likely to consist of people who own dog breeds whose powerful teeth are too strong for many already-existing toys, such as German Shepherds or Pit Bulls. Your product would not be as marketable to Chihuahua or Shih Tzu owners because their needs are met by cheaper, lower quality toys that hold up to the tiny teeth of smaller dogs. Make sure that your product succinctly meets the needs of the consumers you wish to reach and that it is marketed as such.
Stay tuned for Part II of “Inventing Wisely” for more things to consider when developing a new idea or product.