Turn Simple Ideas Into Business Success
by Solovic, Former Guest Blogger
- Created: January 31, 2012, 9:21 am
- Updated: January 31, 2012, 9:21 am
When you think of the great inventors, you probably think of people such as Benjamin Franklin, Alexander Graham Bell and even Steve Jobs - people who have brought entirely new concepts to the market. But great ideas and innovations don't have to change the world. Sometimes the best new product opportunities start with small improvements in existing concepts. For example, Pam Moore improved on the standard ice tray after trying to squeeze ice cubes into the narrow openings of sport bottles for her son's soccer games. Her frustration led her to develop a cylinder design ice try, which she called “Ice Tubes.” The enhanced product fits perfectly into the opening of most sports bottles! Millions of Ice Tubes are now in kitchens around the world.A lot of smart people have great ideas for product enhancements, but they don’t ever pursue them because research and development with prototypes and patents can add up to a lot of time and money. One award winning innovator and entrepreneur advises that you can get your idea to the marketplace without a big investment through a licensing agreement.Inventor Stephen Key didn’t invent the basketball backboard. He improved it with a photograph of Michael Jordan with arms outstretched so children could throw to a basketball superstar. Key took his backboard enhancement to a toy company who loved his idea. This veteran innovator believes that many times, people overlook the potential of enhancements to existing products. "It is the small improvements on existing ideas paying off!” Key likens it to renting an idea to a company and every time they sell the product, you get paid. And he should know how licensing works, with licensing deals for more than twenty ideas in fields as diverse as the toy, beverage, athletic, music, and health industries. Collectively, Key’s creations have sold more than half a billion units and generated billions of dollars of retail revenue.I recently spoke to Key about his book, One Simple Idea, filled with ideas on ways to turn great ideas into a passive income generator by “renting” the idea to a company, which takes care of R&D, production, marketing, sales, accounting, and distribution through licensing. In an interview during my radio show, Key explained that when he has an idea or enhancement he wants to license, he doesn’t spend a lot of money on prototypes or research and development. Instead, he invests about a hundred dollars in a provisional patent application so he can legitimately claim “patent pending” status for a full year while he shops his idea or enhancement to see if it has “legs.”Key admits there are always exceptions, but believes in most cases you can find out if your idea is a good one for a couple of hundred dollars. He encourages those with ideas to stop thinking about their work as inventing and switch to the mindset of a product developer.“You should summarize your idea in one sentence that grabs you and keep it simple on one sheet to send to manufacturers so it is obvious what the benefit of your idea is in the marketplace,” he explains.Many of the world’s biggest brands are looking for new ideas and innovations from consumers. Key says these opportunities exist because people who use products know what they like and what they don’t. Many companies are putting out the call for new product development. “You don't re-invent the wheel. Show them simple ideas that companies can take them to market quickly,” Key advises.
About the AuthorSusan Wilson Solovic is an award-winning entrepreneur and journalist, author of three best-selling books, multi-media personality and a small business contributor to ABC News and other media outlets, public speaker and attorney. In addition to sitting on several executive boards of small business organizations, Solovic is the CEO and co-founder of ItsYourBiz.com – a company she led from a concept to a multi-million dollar enterprise.(formerly SBTV.com) She is also a featured blogger on numerous sites including Huffington Post, AllBusiness.com, Constant Contact, WSJ.com and Fast Company. Her forthcoming book, It’s Your Biz: The Complete Guide to Becoming Your Own Boss, is scheduled for release in October 2011.
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