That moment when you jump out the bath shouting ‘Eureka!’ very rarely happens by chance. Instead, it takes planning and research to look for opportunities in a market and design innovative ways to meet these opportunities. Successful entrepreneurial firms such as Google and Samsung don’t just throw out ideas randomly, but they have a systematic process for developing systems that meet commercial opportunities.
To find that one great idea, you’ll probably have to think of at least ten not-so-great ideas. It has been estimated that, even at the developmental stage, only one out of eleven ideas will be successfully launched. And even then, that idea still needs to be perfected and modified both before and after launch. So, you will still be generating new ideas even after you have designed your initial product.
Most of the time, you can never be sure if an idea will be a success or not until you launch it. It can be a good idea to minimise your risks when you do this, though. A trial launch, for example, might be a good idea if your business doesn’t have any established competitors. Is the reason for that simply that there is no demand? Market research might help you in an established market sector, but new products and services might not get a full response as people do not understand what is being offered. Steve Jobs, for example, preferred to rely on his own insight rather than rely on market research and focus groups. Would you have been able to give the same feedback on a prototype iPhone in 2005 that you could give now?
How can you find a business opportunity? Sometimes you will have to create one: a new, radical innovation will need a niche carved out of the existing market. On the other hand, smaller innovations can be slotted in the gaps. Examine the existing markets to spot the opportunities of unfulfilled need there. This method is much easier than creating opportunity and can be equally profitable.