Sunday, August 5, 2012

5 Lessons in Creatively Creating Your Next Income Stream from a "Great Idea"

You don't have to be a genius to make a living with your imagination, but there are some things that you'll want to know...

Here are some ideas learned along the way to a successful career in profiting from great ideas:

1) Focus on innovation, not invention. Truly groundbreaking ideas are rare, but you don't necessarily need one of those to make a financial foundation for yourself. In fact, a useful understanding of creativity as "The logical combination of two or more existing elements that results in a new concept," could be enough to get you on the right track. Don't underestimate the potential income from simply developing innovative applications, as opposed to completely new concepts.
Famous Example: G.I Joe was the first "action figure" with movable joints for boys when it was introduced in 1964, but the product wasn't really that different from others already on the market. G.I. Joe's were simply the combination of the idea of "dolls," such as Barbie, which were marketed toward girls, with the idea of static action toys, which had always been marketed toward boys.

2) Find a high concept. That's a Hollywood expression for a big idea that is instantly understandable and marketable. The best ideas can be described quickly, and are concepts that stick in peoples' minds (think "Call Me, Maybe"). Besides, two seconds might be all the time you get to pitch your idea to the right person.

3) Read as much as you can, on as many different subjects as possible. Since the invention of the internet, it has become easier than ever before to get substantial amounts of information about any subject you want, but don't rule out trade and consumer magazines for specific niche ideas, which could be developed into new applications. Try to decide if something is really a trend, or just a passing fad. When the same idea starts popping up in the news, magazines, and on TV - pay attention. Make note of things that capture your attention. If they got you, they are probably catching other peoples' attentions also. If you see a product that appears to be a good idea, try to think of other uses for it, even if those uses are outside your areas of knowledge/expertise.

4) Meet regularly with people outside your industry or area of expertise. Consider licensing as a profitable business in itself. Think of a large company doing something similar to your (or another person's) idea, as a speedway to that idea's success. Licensing in this fashion also opens doors to many new networking opportunities - as you represent a bridge between two entities, you'll be learning about both sides of the ideas.

5) Adapt proven ideas to the changing world. Update an existing idea that has become out of date. Again consider the toy market. Consider toys as our world around us, reduced to miniature or simplified versions. Decide how you can fill the gaps, or try to look for similar analogies in other industries.

Bonus: Sell them the printer, THEN sell them the ink. Some industries call this "consumables," but it works for just about any product idea. If you can sell a single doll, but then sell 10 different outfits for that doll, you've just turned one customer into 11 potential sales.

Good luck in all your endeavors! I'd love to hear your successes or pitfalls.

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