I have tried to invent a new product with several ideas and encountered obstacles each time. I may not have come up with the next Segway or Pet Rock, but I do have some lessons from my journey.
I’ve studied dozens of books and podcasts and blogs, and these are the mistakes that stay top of mind as I explore my next concept or invention.
When inventing a new product, maybe it’s a new spork or a Pet Sourdough Loaf, avoid these mistakes and you’ll save a ton of time.
1) Instead of staying in a bubble, go talk to customers.
I set a goal each week while developing some new mountain biking gloves to talk to people that might use this product. And even compared to contacting manufacturers or designing a website, this was the hardest task each week!
It can be uncomfortable to ask for feedback on an idea, but it’s critically important to keep you on the right track. The bonus is the motivation it offers.
When you talk to people outside your normal circle you get valuable input that challenges your assumptions about the problem you’re solving.
And what’s more – even just hearing one out of four people say “that’s a great idea!” can help you to keep going when you get to the next obstacle.
2) Avoid rushing the development process.
Ultimately the product itself is what people use and that experience overrides everything else. You can have an amazing video / website / package / whatever, but none of it matters if the product sucks.
Taking the time to iterate and get the details right goes a long way to add some delight to the experience. And that leads to word-of-mouth growth.
People make purchasing decisions based on what their friends say, not so much on what they read in a testimonial on Instagram or Facebook.
It’s a fine line between perfectionism and shipping a crappy first version, so go back to #1 and remember to solicit the opinion of others.
3) Don’t expect a bullseye with your first dart.
The internet is full of success stories, and it can feel like everyone else nailed it with their first idea.
One nugget of wisdom from the entrepreneur Alex Hormozi is this – most people have a graveyard of failures before they have their first success.
You have to throw lots of darts, getting closer and closer before you hit a bullseye.
And knowing that it will take some iteration helps me. I have to keep reminding myself that the journey should be fun so I can keep playing the game.
Just be sure to aim well and improve with each throw.
Find what works to stay motivated
It’s best to get started and let the motivation come through action, but I also see the value in revisiting your goals frequently. That’s why I love my weekly review!
For some added motivation you can listen to an inspiring talk by Steve Jobs, Jim Carrey, or Denzel Washington. Or check out some of my favorite podcasts.