It’s great when you get that ‘light bulb’ moment and are inspired to create a new product or service. Unfortunately, inspiration doesn’t always strike when you need it to, such as when you’re thinking of ways to invigorate your business with a new idea, or flat out trying to run your business. To come up with something new that solves a need for a specific market, you must know where to look.
Google – your go-to online resource
The first and most obvious place to start is the internet. Look at third-party selling sites like Amazon or Ali Express, and trawl through the product reviews. You’ll be surprised how many ideas you can get just by reading about what products people buy, and what they like and dislike about them.
When you’re searching, try ‘new product ideas’, ‘future (your industry) trends’, ‘new product trends’ or anything that relates to what you do.
It’s also a good idea to make use of Google News. Entering a topic such as ‘trends’ or ‘new products’ into Google news will bring up news articles about trends that you can use as inspiration for your product ideas. If they have a regular blog or e-newsletter, then subscribe.
Also subscribe to any opinion leaders or people that resonate with you who are commenting about your industry or technology you may be using; you never know what may spark off a new idea.
The internet has splintered into millions of special interest groups. There will be a number that relate to your industry to find new ideas.
Check out the competition
Search for businesses that are similar to yours. Review their products and services and look for ways you could improve on them. The idea is not to be a copycat, but to see what your competitors are doing differently from you and see if that provides some inspiration.
Look especially for businesses like yours that operate in other countries. Quite often you’ll find a wealth of new ideas far away from your current operation.
Attend conferences, events and trade shows
Get in front of new ideas by travelling to events that demonstrate new ideas or research. It doesn’t always have to be in your industry either, as often good ideas can be gained from listening to experts from other disciplines.
Specialist trend websites
Many websites have specialised in identifying and showcasing current trends. Such sites focus especially on innovative or ground-breaking products. For example:
Ask colleagues or other business owners where they get their ideas from.
Make use of social media
Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and YouTube are all great resources for new product ideas and inspiration. The trick is knowing how to search them and filter out the unnecessary noise. For example:
- Twitter – use the Advanced Search option and search for phrases such as ‘new products’, ‘I wish there was’, ‘does anyone know how to’, ‘is there a product’ etc. You get the idea; you’re trying to find out what people want.
- Instagram – the best way to conduct a search is by looking for anything labelled with a hashtag, such as #awesomeproducts, #amazingproducts, #trends etc.
- Pinterest – look for ‘Repins’ and ‘Likes’. If a particular photo has a high number of these, it can be a sign that the product or service shown has real market potential.
- YouTube – use the search function and enter similar searches to the Twitter ones above. When your search results come up and you click on a video, a series of similar videos will be displayed on the right. Keep following the trail.
Find out what people want
Talk to as many people as possible to tap into customers’ minds and passions. What new products, solutions, communications and “experiences” truly resonate? Try to find out what the pain points are – what problems need to be solved. Regularly brainstorm with staff, customers and even suppliers.
Start with problems that you are personally invested in. Think about what’s out there in the marketplace and what you wish was there. Talk to your family, friends and customers about products and solutions they’d like to be able to purchase.
Then look outside your own industry. Try to determine how other businesses are solving problems. They might be using an approach that for them is routine, but hadn’t occurred to you before, and that’s the beginning of inspiration.
Every time you encounter frustration with a customer experience, note it down. Ask yourself: is this a problem I could solve? Ask others if they’ve run into the same difficulty, and what they’d like to see done about it. Could you turn that solution into a new business idea?
The key to gaining inspiration is keeping an open mind. When you’re searching online or talking to people use your imagination to refine what might have been a previously odd observation into something that could be a genuine problem-solver.
The internet means that we as a global community are more connected than ever, so it’s easier to talk to people and find out what they want. You can research ideas across all business industries just by searching, as well as talking to suppliers and customers from around the world.