Sources of new Ideas
A thought or suggestion as to a possible course of action.
Some of the more frequently used sources of ideas for entrepreneurs
• Existing product & services
• Distribution channels
• The federal government &
• Research & development
• Entrepreneurs should continually pay close attention to customers,
this attention can take the form of informally monitoring potential
ideas & needs or formally arranging for consumers to have an
opportunity to express their opinions.
• New product or service idea may come from customer reaction to the
present product and from expected product idea.
• Care needs to be taken to ensure that the idea or need represents a
large enough market to support a new venture.
Existing products & services:
• Entrepreneurs should also establish a formal method for monitoring
& evaluating competitive products & services on the markets.
• This may result in a new product or service that has more market
appeal & better sales & profit.
• Members of the distribution channels are also excellent sources for
new ideas because of their familiarity with needs of the market.
• They suggest new products & also helps entrepreneurs in marketing
their newly developed products.
• Federal government can be a source of new product ideas in two ways:
The files of the patent Office contain numerous new product possibilities, although
the patents themselves may not be feasible they can frequently suggest other more
marketable products ideas.
• New product idea can come in response to government regulations.
• E.g. Occupational Safety & Health Act mandated that first aid kits be available in
business establishments employing more than three people and must contain
specific items that varied according to the company. R&H Safety sales company
was developing such kits that allowed companies to comply with the standards of
Research & development:
• The largest source of new ideas is the entrepreneur’s own R&D
• One research scientist in Fortune 500 company developed a new
plastic resin that became the basis of a new product but the company
was not interested.
• He started making a plastic molded modular cup pallet as a new
venture and build a company Arnolite pallet Company .
Methods of Generating New Ideas
• Even with such a wide variety of sources available, coming up with an
idea to serve as the basis for a new venture can still be problematic.
The entrepreneur can use several methods to help generate & test
new ideas such as:
• Focus groups
• Brain writing &
• Problem inventory & analysis.
Focus groups: groups of individuals providing information in a
• For generating new ideas, the focus group is an excellent method for
initially screening ideas & concepts.
• The group of 8-14 participants is stimulated by comments from each
other in creatively conceptualizing & developing a new product idea
to fill a market need.
• E.g. one company interested in the women’s slipper market received
its new product concept for a “warm & comfortable slipper that fits
like an old shoe” from a focus group of 12 women from various
socioeconomic backgrounds in the Boston area.
Brainstorming: a group method for obtaining new ideas & solutions.
• It is based on the fact that people can be stimulated to greater
creativity by meeting with others and participating in organized group
• The characteristics of this method are keeping criticism away; free
wheeling of idea, high quantity of ideas, combinations and
improvements of ideas. Such type of session should be fun with no
scope for domination and inhibition. Brainstorming has a greater
probability of success when the effort focuses on specific product or
Brain writing: (created by Bend Rohr Bach in 1960 & named Method 635)
• It is the written form of brainstorming.
• Brain writing is a silent, written generation of ideas by a group of people.
• The participants write their ideas on special forms or cards that circulate
within the group, that consists of usually 6 members.
• Each group member generates & writes down three ideas during a 5
minute period, until each form has passed all participants.
• The leader monitors the time interval & can reduce or lengthen the time
given to participants according to the need of the group.
Problem inventory & analysis: A method for obtaining new ideas &
solutions by focusing on problems.
• This analysis uses individuals in a manner that is analogous to focus
groups to generate new product ideas. However, instead of
generating new ideas themselves, the consumers are provided with
list of problems and then asked to have discussion over it and it
ultimately results in an entirely new product idea.
Creative problem solving
• Creativity is the act of turning new and imaginative ideas into reality
& is an important attribute of a successful entrepreneur.
• While creative problem solving is the method for obtaining new ideas
focusing on the parameters.
• Creativity tends to decline with age, education, lack of use, and
• Hidden creative potential can be stifled by perceptual, cultural, and
• Creativity can be unlocked by using any of the creative problem-
Creative problem solving techniques
• This is the first technique & is probably the most well known & widely used
for both creative problem solving & idea generation.
• A good brainstorming session starts with a problem statement that is
neither to broad (which would diversify ideas & nothing specific would
emerge) nor too narrow (which would tend to confine responses)
• Once the problem statement is prepared, 6-12 individuals are selected to
• To avoid inhibiting responses no group member should be an expert in the
field of the problem.
• All ideas must be recorded.
2. Reverse Brainstorming:
• It is a group method for obtaining new ideas focusing on the negative.
• It is similar to brain storming except that criticism is allowed. The
main focus is on finding fault by asking questions.
• Hence focuses on the negative aspects of a product, service, or idea
as well as ways to overcome these problems.
• Care must be taken to maintain group morale.
3. Gordon Method:
• It is the method for developing new ideas when the individuals are
unaware of the problem.
• Unlike many other creative problem-solving techniques, begins with group
members not knowing the exact nature of the problem.
• Entrepreneur starts by monitoring a general concept associated with the
problem , the group responds by expressing a number of ideas.
• Then a concept is developed, followed by related concepts, through
guidance of the entrepreneur.
• The actual problem is then revealed, enabling the group to make
suggestions for implementation or refinement of the final solution.
4. Checklist Method:
• Developing a new idea through a list of related issues.
• In this method a new idea is developed through a list of related issues
• The entrepreneur can use the list of questions or statements to guide
the direction of developing entirely new ideas or concentrating on
specific “idea” areas.
• E.g. modify? New twist? Change, color, odor, shape.
• Magnify? What to add? More time? Stronger? Larger? Thicker?
5. Free association:
• Developing a new idea through a chain of word associations.
• A word or phrase related to the problem is written down, then another &
another, with each new word attempting to add something new to the
ongoing thought processes, thereby creating a chain of ideas ending with a
new product idea emerging.
6. Collective Notebook Method
• Developing a new idea by group members regularly recording ideas.
• A small note book that easily fits in a pocket, containing a statement of the
problem, blank pages & any pertinent background data is distributed.
• Participants consider the problem & its possible solutions, recording
ideas at least once, but preferably three times a day. At the end of a
week, a list of the best ideas is developed, along with any
7. Attribute listing:
• Developing a new idea by looking at the positives and negatives.
• This method requires the entrepreneurs to list the attributes of an
item or problem & then look at each from a variety of viewpoints that
will result to form a new combination & possible new uses that better
satisfy a need.
• The process of translating an idea or invention into a good or service
that creates value or for which customers will pay.
• Innovation generally refers to changing or creating more effective
processes, products and ideas, and can increase the likelihood of a
1. Breakthrough innovation
2. Technological innovation &
3. Ordinary innovation
1. Breakthrough innovation:
• These extremely unique innovations often establishes the platform on
which future innovations in an area are developed.
• As they are the basis for further innovation in an area, these
innovations should be protected by patents, trademarks, and
• E.g. Chung Chiun Liu is a world expert on sensor technology & holds
12 patents in electrochemical & sensor technology. These Nano
devices can find blood glucose level, hidden bombs, illegal drugs.
2. Technological innovation:
• Occurs more frequently; not at the same level of breakthrough
• Offers advancements in the product/market area.
• Needs to be protected.
• E.g. personal computer, voice & text messaging.
3. Ordinary innovation:
• Occurs most frequently.
• Extends a technological innovation into a better product or service or
one that has a different market appeal.
• Usually come from market analysis, not technology push.
Defining a New Innovation (Product or Service):
• One of the dilemmas faced by entrepreneurs is defining a new product or
identifying what is actually new or unique in an idea. E.g. sony made Walkman
one of the most popular new products of the 1980’s, although the concept of
cassette players has been in existence for many years.
Newness can be:
• In the consumer concept.
• A change in the package or container.
• Slight changes or modifications in the appearance of the product. (Industrial
• Companies also add products to their product line that are already marketed by
other companies; products are new to the manufacturer but not the consumer.
• Some entrepreneurs have the ability to recognize a business
opportunity, which is a fundamental to the entrepreneurial process as
well as a growing business. A business opportunity represents a
possibility for the entrepreneur to successfully fill a large enough
unsatisfied need that enough sales & profit results.
• The aspects of the opportunity recognition process is indicated in the
model of the opportunity recognition process.
Opportunity Analysis Plan
• Each and every innovative idea should be carefully assessed by the
entrepreneur. One good way to do this job is Opportunity analysis plan
while opportunity Analysis Plan is not Business Plan , as it focuses on the
idea and the market for the idea. It also is shorter then a business plan and
does not contain a formal financial statement of the venture.
A typical opportunity analysis plan has four sections:
• A description of the idea and its competition
• An assessment of the domestic and international market for the idea
• An assessment of the entrepreneur and the team
• A discussion of the steps needed to make the idea basis for a viable
Product Planning and Development Process
Once ideas emerge from idea sources or creative problem solving, they
need further development. This product planning & development
process is divided into 5 major stages:
• Idea stage
• Concept stage
• Product development stage
• Test marketing stage &
Establishing Evaluation Criteria:
• Criteria should be established at each stage of the product planning and
development process. It should be all-inclusive and quantitative in nature.
Criteria should evaluate the idea in terms of:
• Market opportunity.
• Marketing system.
• Financial factors.
• Production factors.
• Promising ideas should be identified and impractical ones eliminated
in the idea stage, allowing maximum use of the company resources.
• One evaluation method successfully used in this stage is the
Systematic market evaluation checklist.
• Determine the need for the new idea as well as its value to the
• After a new product/service idea has passed evaluation in the idea
stage, it should be further developed & refined through interaction
• The refined idea is tested to determine consumer acceptance which
can be measured through the conversational interview method.
Product development stage:
• In this stage consumer reaction to the product/service is determined.
• A consumer panel is given a product sample and preference is
determined through methods such as multiple brand comparisons,
risk analysis, etc.
Test marketing stage:
• A market test can be done to increase the certainty of successful
• Provides actual sales results, which reflect consumer acceptance.
E-commerce and Business Start-up
• E-commerce offers entrepreneurs an opportunity to be creative and
Factors that facilitate high-growth in electronic commerce:
• Widespread use of personal computers.
• Adoption of intranets in companies.
• Acceptance of the Internet as a business communications platform.
• Faster and more secure systems.
Using E-Commerce Creatively:
Entrepreneurs have to decide whether to:
• Run Internet operations within the company.
• Outsource these operations to Internet specialists.
• Use e-commerce packages provided by software companies.
The integration of front-end and back-end operations represents the
greatest challenge for doing Internet business.
Doing E-Commerce as an Entrepreneurial Company:
The decision to go online for the first time & develop an e-commerce
site for your business should be based on several facors:
• Products should be delivered economically and conveniently.
• Products need to interest a wide market; company must be ready to
ship the product outside its own geographical location.
• Online operations should bring significant cost reductions.
• Company must be able to economically draw customers to its Web