Developing your powers of observation and curiosity is essential when you are either searching for new product ideas or looking for ways to improve existing products, start a new business, or find ideas to keep you current and flourishing. Since I am an inventor, I look for products to develop; but you can use these same techniques for different types of business ideas and solutions.
I developed an interest in drawing while in art school and I feel this interest has provided me with a special way of seeing things and has helped me along in my inventive career. For those of you who are not artists, I recommend you take the time to find the many sources available in everyday life to intrigue and enlighten you.
I carry a small notebook around with me to sketch in and to write down questions and observations. I’ll find an item here and another there that I will want to remember and need to write down. When I read through my notebook later I can look for answers to the questions and record the data.
Instead of relying solely on the Internet as most people tend to, I suggest you pay a visit to your local library. I’ve found librarians to be very helpful. They can either help you get started or guide you to reading materials to answer your questions.
I read a great number of magazines each month and believe you should also take the time to read different kinds of magazine articles on many subjects to broaden your perspective.
And read several newspapers every day. Even though most papers get their information from the same sources, they will often talk about different aspects of the same stories giving you different points of view. To save yourself some time, learn to skim articles for key items of interest.
Train yourself to use your notebook when shopping and wherever your business takes you. You will soon notice the interaction among products in stores and quite possibly notice something missing – creating a product vacuum that you can perhaps fill!
I have always tried to invent the simplest products possible and believe they are the ones that succeed. For example: Ivory(r) Soap is different because it floats; Post-It(r) notes became a winner using glue that wouldn’t work as it was intended to; disposable diapers (for which I have one of the first patents) were modified to fit the baby; Kotex(r) sanitary napkins were improved with a figure eight cross-section (another patent of mine), and I developed an air freshener that turns itself on and off!
Some ideas may seem impractical because special materials are not yet available. I once worked for a company that made catsup and thought up the idea of a squeezable catsup bottle long before it was a feasible, commercial product. The company had to wait until a plastic was developed that would not let oxygen in to turn the catsup black. The material eventually came along, as you well know.
So for another lesson, don’t be impatient. Keep moving forward while you are waiting for new materials or technology! It will soon be here!
Article – Copyright 2000 Stanley I. Mason. Syndicated by ParadigmTSA