Creating the Idea

The Need for Need-Driven Products

I don’t care about the invention. It’s the dimes I’m after.

—Isaac Singer

The first thing I learned long ago is that inventing is easy. I can dream up new inventions all day long. You probably can too—ideas just seem to keep popping up. However, what I also learned long ago is that, yes, inventing is easy, but the trick is to uncover what needs to be invented. That’s not so easy. It doesn’t matter if your idea is for a new kitchen gadget, a new software application, or a new Internet business, if you’ve not uncovered a need, or not found a problem demanding a solution, then success is difficult to achieve. Inventing a product that’s neither wanted nor needed is not the path to success that you should embark on.

For instance, take the inventor Stanley Weston, mentioned in the Preface. As you’ll recall, he’s the originator of G.I. Joe. Inventing the character itself was the easy part. There was a TV show at the time called The Lieutenant, and he just copied that character for his own character. The real brilliance of Weston’s idea—and what needed to be invented—was a doll that boys could play with. What Weston noticed that apparently no one else had was that boys like to play with dolls just as girls do, but there were no dolls made expressly for them. There were tin soldiers, but no dolls. And since you can’t sell a doll to a little boy, he coined the name “action figure.” Now, of course, it would be hard to find any ...

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