Every ones in a while I come across some product and say why didn’t I think of this first? Equal number of times something strikes me but I think this is too obvious; someone must have done it or must be working on this already. And the third category is to find a successful product or service and exclaim – I thought of this long time back and knew this was going to be a home run. Carefully observing these ideas turned into products, we can see a couple of things that are common between them. First and foremost, most successful ideas are the simplest ones. I think that is like a prerequisite for them to be successful products. The idea being simple implies there is something that is missing from the existing market and the customer is in need of the missing element. That makes the idea simple and obvious. Second, someone with a “just do it” attitude to convert the idea into reality. These are the people with ultimate faith in their concept. The drive and passion that they bring with them separate innovators from the crowd.
World around us is full of examples of such concepts that are now cash cows worth billions. Let people rent movies online and mail it to them eliminating the store trips: Netflix. Reed Hastings brought one of the most innovative concepts to reality. It was simple because people were looking for something like this. No one liked to go to the movie store looking for a movie and come back without one of their favorites because the store didn’t have shelf space to store it or pay outrageous late fees if you were late for a few days. So Netflix came up with an online movie rental service where you can select and queue up the movies you want to watch from thousands of selections (their long tail), pay a flat monthly fee to watch as many movies as you can and keep the movie as long as you want. Reed Hastings had the courage to invest in the idea and create the service to take on the blockbusters of the business at that time.
To name a few more – Sell Personal Computers directly to the end customer and let them configure it to fit their needs: Dell. Create a universal bidding platform: Ebay. Create an online community for people to keep in touch: MySpace. Let people make their own sandwich: Subways (or let people make their own Pizza: Kramerica). All of them have baked in simplicity and drive of passionate people to make sure the idea materialize into reality.
The important thing to understand here is that idea is not important, what’s important is the implementation of the idea. There is nothing in this World that only you can think of and no one else can. So just getting an idea and letting it go earns you nothing. The drive to bring this idea to reality is what counts. The passion in building a team of people who have faith in you and your concept, the tireless work in creating the financial backbone, and the endless marketing efforts to face the pre-existing mammoths in the market is what is required to turn your idea into a product. If your idea is simple and obvious, it’s even better. Don’t give it up assuming that someone out there has done it, do your market research. If it is already done, look for what’s next. If you thought of something that is now a successful product, it means you had a good idea. Look for the next thing that strikes you, and this time, take it with the just do it attitude!