What can you expect at the end of a session? Given time to master this technique, you’ll find that you start coming up with some exciting potential business ideas. But I stress that just like any other worthwhile technique it takes time and patience before you get the best out of it. If you find after trying it a number of times that you’re still getting nothing – don’t despair.
Take a break from it and come back to it later when you’re fresh and make sure you use all the techniques above. I find pictures a great help. It’s amazing what looking at just one picture can do for your imagination. READERS’ LETTERS The readers’ letters section of your hobby magazine and the online forums and message boards for your hobby websites are fantastic places to get new ideas for your business.
Browse through them and you’ll start to see common moans, usually directed at manufacturers and suppliers who are perceived as failing to satisfy their customers’ needs. It’s a great place to find out what others are thinking and what people would really like to buy. Most large businesses work on economies of scale and will only introduce a product or service if they’re sure there’ll be a large enough demand to justify full-scale production. Often this reluctance creates an ideal opportunity for a creative entrepreneur to hop in and plug the gap in the market. In my own gardening business I regularly read online forums and the letters in gardening magazines and have found it to be enormously helpful when planning marketing campaigns and finding out what customers really want.
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But beware of sharing your top tips with anyone else. A couple of years ago a reader of a sailing magazine I subscribe to submitted a simple solution for safeguarding an outboard motor against theft. To his surprise, and I believe understandable annoyance, he later saw an exact replica of his device on sale at the Southampton Boat Show.
When he enquired further about the origins of the product the salesman told him his company had got the idea for the product from a reader’s tip in a sailing magazine. The company in question is one of the largest in the world and is selling thousands of these gadgets worldwide without paying a penny to the original inventor. If you are developing a prototype product you should look to have it patented to stop this from happening. To do this you’ll need to get specialist advice from a solicitor who deals with this sort of thing.