- Explain where product ideas come from.
For some people, coming up with a great product idea is a gratifying adventure. For most, however, it’s a daunting task. The key to coming up with a product idea is identifying something that customers want—or, perhaps more important, filling an unmet customer need. In coming up with a product idea, ask not “what do I want to sell?” but rather “what does the customer want to buy?” (Thurm, 2005) With this piece of advice in mind, let’s get back to the task of coming up with a product idea. Nobel Prize–winning chemist Linus Pauling suggested that “the best way to have a good idea is to have lots of ideas,” and though this notion might seem a little whimsical at first, it actually makes a lot of sense, especially if you’re trying to be innovative in the entrepreneurial sense. Every year, for example, companies launch about thirty thousand new food, beverage, and beauty products, and up to 90 percent fail within a year (Catalina, 2011; Kotler & Armstrong, 2008). You might need ten good ideas just to have one that stands a chance.