How to Invent New Products. Part I: Generating Ideas

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Have a notepad handy to sketch your new product ideas.
Have a notepad handy to sketch your new product ideas. (Image: Comstock/Comstock/Getty Images)

Almost anyone can be an inventor and conceive great ideas for new products. Inventions and new products come in all shapes, sizes and complexities. Some of the best inventions are simple and make others say,"Wy didn't I think of that? Inventing new products can be a long process; fortunately, it's easy to get started. Generating ideas for new inventions is a skill you can acquire with a few simple tips.

Things You'll Need

  • Spiral notebooks
  • 3-inch by 5-inch cards
  • Pen or pencil

Set your mind to the task. Step back from daily life and recognize opportunities for new inventions. Decide to make the effort to start down the path of inventing new things.

Be prepared to capture an idea or make a sketch, because ideas can occur to you anytime. Keep a standard-size spiral notebook or 3-inch by 5-inch index cards to write or sketch ideas while on the go. Make sure you date your ideas and write as much about them as you can at the moment. You will be thankful once you return to work on the idea.

Don't discount simple ideas. Generally, simple products are easier to get adopted, easier to sell and less costly to manufacture. Even if an idea or sketch does not culminate in a new product, it can inspire you in other areas or variations of the original idea.

Think about things that annoy you or that cause a problem for you. Such things are one of the best sources of ideas for new inventions. Generally, inventions are good when they solve a problem in our lives.

Brainstorm. Pick a topic such as kitchens, baths, gardens, garage, office, medical or any other subject you prefer. Next, choose an area within that topic you consider a chore, tedious or a problem to everyone. Break down that problem and get to its root. Now you have an opportunity for a new invention. Do this for an hour with as many topics as you can.

Engage in people watching. Seeing them at a park, the mall, sports events or any other gathering can provide new ideas. Watch people's interactions, activities and any problems that need solving. Sometimes removing yourself from the action can provide new perspective.

Listen to the daily challenges and success stories of friends and family. Consider what is at the root of their situations. Ask them questions to help zero in on an idea.

Improve an existing product. Many great inventions and ultimate money makers are improvements upon existing products. You don't have to "reinvent the wheel" to have success as an inventor. If you have ever used a product and thought it could be done more simply, you may be onto a great invention.

Write ideas in your notebook consistently. Once one of them keeps you awake at night thinking of ways to get prototypes made or ways to market or sell the product, you may have a winner. Now is the time to share the idea with trusted friends who can provide honest feedback, perspective and become your product test team.

Tips & Warnings

  • Keep a note book of ideas.
  • Write as much as possible on a new idea.
  • Simple ideas are not to be overlooked.
  • This process can become addictive!

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