Some inventors make the mistake of pouring years of their lives and thousands of dollars into bad ideas. Maybe their idea was ill-formed and nobody actually wants it. Maybe they wasted years pursuing an idea that actually will not work the way they originally thought it would. Whatever the case may be, the end result is lots of wasted time and energy on a dead idea. By this point you are probably thinking, “There must be a better way!” Fortunately, there is. It is a bold, decisive strategy that is best summed up as “Kill your ideas quick.” What does this mean, exactly?
Basically, you want to expose your idea to as much critical scrutiny as you can, as early as you can. In this article, we will discuss two main ways of doing that. The first and easiest way is to collect feedback about your idea. Ask people questions like, “Would you buy this? What need would this fill for you? Can you think of any reason why you would not want to buy it or use it? What about your friends? Do other products do what my idea is going to do, better? How so?” The more detailed feedback you get, the better. However, merely collecting this feedback is just the starting point. What you want to do is implement the feedback you get into your prototype or working model. Doing this as quickly as possible will help you determine whether your idea is a winner or a bust. As you force yourself to actually create it rather than endlessly theorize, you will discover whether it is too expensive or too big or too hard or impossible.
Of course, the best scenario would be if you know someone in your field that you trust and can ask for advice. They above all people will have a good sense of whether your idea is unrealistic or not. The feedback they provide will also be immensely valuable, especially if your idea doesn’t need to be killed.
Another way to kill your idea fast was pioneered by Internet advertising guru Perry Marshall. He advocates using the cheap, fast-response ad medium of Google AdWords to test public interest in your idea before diving headlong into pursuing it. Perry describes the nuts and bolts of his approach in his free e-course on Google AdWords:
“Let’s say you’ve got a product idea. The product itself costs $50,000 to develop, and you’re sure it’s a good idea because it solves a really thorny problem.
So here’s what you do: You write a report, e-book or white paper about how to solve that problem. You create an opt-in page where people can get your report in exchange for their contact information.
Then you buy keywords, send people to that page and see how many people you can get to opt in.
That alone will tell you something.
And if you absolutely cannot get anybody to opt-in to your report – or if you can’t find keywords that anyone is searching for – then that’s a good sign you should abandon the project before you throw any more money at it.”
Perry’s point is that you can use an inexpensive testing medium to see if your idea is a winner. At the very least, you will be positioned to proceed on the basis of actual knowledge instead of wishful thinking. Perry continues:
“Not only will this process validate that you’re solving a worthwhile problem; it will also fine tune your efforts so that you’re dealing with the real problems that real people have!
It’s worth repeating: after testing your concept on Google AdWords, you’ll never throw good money at a lousy product idea. And when you need assistance or investment money, you’ll have proof that people are looking for what you have to sell.”
Perry’s method can be applied to virtually any invention relating to something that people would look for on a search engine. Best of all, it does not need to be expensive. If you can spare a few hundred dollars, you will get real-time market research from people who are actively looking for what you are making. What could be more valuable than that? And like Perry says: if no one likes your idea, it is probably a dud and at least you know for sure.
Whichever method you choose, killing your ideas quick is sound practice. It is also a bold step away from the “Inventor Baby” mentality who seeks to protect his idea from harsh contact with the real world and its desires. You will be facing reality as it actually is. You will not spin your wheels on ideas that are doomed to fail. And most importantly, this will free up your precious time and energy for more fruitful projects.
Eric Corl is the Founder and CEO of IdeaBuyer.com, the online marketplace for intellectual property that gives inventors the opportunity to showcase their intellectual property to consumer product companies, entrepreneurs, retailers, and manufacturers. You can email him at EricCorl@IdeaBuyer.com.