Aspiring entrepreneurs – especially those who
are “creativity-impaired” – can take heart in knowing there is more than one
way to generate ideas for products or services.
Capitalize on mistakes. Some of the
best product ideas were unintended. Did you know, for example, that
Post-It-Notes were the result of what 3M Company researchers at first
thought to be a bad batch of glue?
Then there was Thomas Sullivan, a New York
City tea importer who, in 1908, found that the sample tins of tea he
normally sent to customers had become more expensive. His solution was to
send less tea and to have the samples sewn into small silk bags. Sullivan’s
customers assumed that these convenient bags were meant to steep in hot
water and orders started rolling in for this new product innovation now
known as the tea bag.
Sleep on it. One of the best times for
idea development is in the early stages of sleep. Both Thomas Edison and
artist Salvador Dali often used their nap time to stimulate creative
thinking. The men would nap in a chair while holding a small metal object
(Edison held a ball bearing, Dali, a key).
The object would eventually clank to the
floor, awakening the nappers with a start. Edison and Dali would then
quickly jot down whatever ideas or intuitive connections may have been in
Pay attention. Did you know that burrs
were the inspiration for the popular clothing fastener known as Velcro? When
you start looking at the familiar with fresh eyes you’ll be amazed at the
creative business possibilities you might see.
Be ready. Keep a notebook and pencil or
a small tape recorder handy at all times. After all, you never know when or
where the inspiration for your new enterprise may strike!
Trust your gut. Speaking of
Post-It-Notes, back in the late 1980s my then employer held a course on
innovation. Attendees were put into small groups to brainstorm new
product ideas and then present the best idea to the entire class. As I
watched the other groups writing their favorite idea on flip chart paper and
hanging them on the wall with masking tape, the light bulb went on…
What if flip chart pads were manufactured to
work like giant Post-It-Notes for easier hanging? Being a trainer myself, I
thought it was a great idea. My group didn’t agree and picked another one
instead. What was at the time a novel product improvement is today pretty
much the standard for flip chart pads. I may have missed out on a fortune
but I learned an invaluable lesson – trust your gut and go for it.
like this article?
Read more free articles about Changing Course.
About the Author
"Profiting From Your Passions®" expert Valerie Young abandoned her corporate cubicle to become the Dreamer in Residence at ChangingCourse.com offering resources to help you discover your life mission and live it. Her career change tips have been cited in Kiplinger's, The Wall Street Journal, USA Today Weekend, Woman's Day, and elsewhere and on-line at MSN, CareerBuilder, and iVillage.com. An expert on the Impostor Syndrome, Valerie has spoken on the topic of How to Feel as Bright and Capable as Everyone Seems to Think You Are to such diverse organizations as Daimler Chrysler, Bristol-Meyers Squibb, Harvard, and American Women in Radio and Television.
You may re-print these articles electronically, in print, or on your website providing the
byline appears at the end of each
A courtesy copy of your publication would be appreciated. If your publication is sent via email send a copy to
publication is mailed, please mail to Changing Course,
7 Ripley Road, Montague, MA 01351. If you publish the article(s)
on a website, please email us a link to the article.