Ideas for great products come from anywhere and everywhere. A great product  either overcomes an obstacle or solves a real problem in a new or traditional way.

Rare are the product marketers like Steve Jobs who know innately what people need. Where so many may get lost is the sheer enormity of possibilities.  Coming up with ideas is easy. Testing markets, designing, and implementing your ideas are more difficult.

When thinking about the best product to create and sell, you’re doing something called “Ideation”. You know those moments you’re going about your day and you run into some issue or obstacle, and you think “boy, I wish someone would create X, so I could do X”. This is the beginning of the Ideation Process, the first step toward getting your product out of your head and into a buyer’s hands. This that day-dreamy feeling as you throw around Ideas and imagine the ways your product could help people. The process is informal, each person has their own unique way of entering this idea stage. Some businesses have entire teams dedicated just to coming up with ideas!

As you‘re staring out the window or tapping the desk with your fingertips in deep concentration, take as much heed from the failures (Google Glass, New Coke) as the successes (Amazon, Apple).

People will buy a product to solve a problem or make a task easier, but the problem or difficult task must be present. From washboards to washing machines, the manufacturing industry grew to solve the problem of tedious, time-heavy tasks (washboards) to “set and forget” (washing machine) while you do another household chore (time-saver/multitasking).

On the slick oil fields in Canada, a man noticed big dump trucks and other vehicles slipping and sliding, a danger to all who drove and worked around the area. He kept things simple and solved the problem by laying down moveable wooden planks for the trucks to drive on and later, renting them directly to the trucking companies. He invented, Swamp Mats, now a staple on muddy construction sites all over the world, especially in the oil fields of Canada and the USA.

How do I know I’m doing it right?  

Does your product solve a problem or overcome an obstacle  in a new way? Is your audience a part of your story? While I’ll address the question of defining your target audience a little later in the blog, the initial key here is to make sure there’s an interest, that a problem needs to be solved, or a new take an existing product to make it better, stronger, faster, easier, or whatever the case may be.  Ask 10 people about it. If they all tell you you’re crazy or they all love your stuff you’re probably wrong. If there is an even mix of good and bad, your most likely on to something.

A great starting resource:  As with any great endeavour, there are steps to take, goals to manage, and procedures to implement. For a quick run down, you can find a great checklist here.