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5 Ways to Profit from Good Ideas

5 Ways to Profit from Good Ideas
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    Turning a good idea into a successful innovation requires the glass to be full. A half full glass simply isn’t enough. There are many things involved in bringing a product to market successfully or turning an idea into reality and each one of them needs to be right, or at least close enough. The innovator starts the process with a set of resources and draws upon them until the idea, product or invention “sells”. This innovation process is like starting with a full glass that has holes in the bottom of it. The challenge is to find ways to plug the leaks before the glass drains completely and then make the glass overflow. Here are 5 ways to profit from good ideas.

    1. Assume your idea is terrible. Assuming an idea is terrible can be quite liberating. This is not the same as not believing in what you are doing and it is not about being negative. On the contrary, it is about changing the frame of reference to give due consideration to the real operating conditions. Consider the advantage of having accurate maps and a compass to navigate from one place to another rather than a ball of string and a vague idea. Having an accurate understanding of the conditions has its advantages. It prevents people and companies from squandering resources on dead ends or irrelevant excursions. Anyone moving forward who is positive, highly motivated and well equipped with accurate, relevant information and sound plans becomes virtually unstoppable. Eliminating the tendency to rely on untested assumptions can be done by simply assuming a product or idea is a terrible one and then taking steps toward making it better.
    2. Know your customer, industry and business well enough to publish a book. Writing is a process that distills thought. Corporate innovators are often asked to prepare detailed plans. Companies employ a variety of planning tools and they can be tremendous aids in working through the necessary thought processes. Everyone seeking funding who has approached professional finance people to get a project financed is aware that he or she is expected to come with a written business plan. The thought process that goes into the writing is more important than the document itself.
    3. Steal from others and let others steal from you. Copy, copy, copy. Originality is overrated. The advantages of duplication over originality are numerous. Something that has already become tried and true is just that: tried and true. That decreases the risk and uncertainty considerably. Duplicating something is less costly than producing an original. Something that has been in use has likely had a lot of the bugs knocked out of it and has already become perceived as useful and acceptable. For manufactured products, it is almost always less risky, faster, cheaper and easier to incorporate an existing part already in production than to design and make an original.
    4. Create a powerful network of outside advisors. The importance and value of having a powerful network of outside advisors cannot be overstated. Famous inventor Thomas Edison surrounded himself with the most powerful people in the world. He needed a great deal of help to develop his grand visions so he went to whatever lengths were needed to get that help. As an example of an Edison gathering, he had United States President Herbert Hoover, Henry Ford and Harvey Firestone at his 82nd birthday party in Fort Myers, Florida on February 11, 1929. Successful people are usually more than happy to share constructive insights and where appropriate will exercise candor if something seems off.
    5. Involve and embrace passionate customers in the development and marketing processes. For most types of innovations, there are ways to actively engage end embrace passionate leading customers in the development and marketing processes. This can happen at an early stage or long after a product or service has matured. Bringing customers in close can be a tremendous aid to the innovation process. Innovators would be remiss if they did not consider this approach.

    The above 5 ways are intended for those who are interested in achieving commercial success and maximizing profits from their ideas. There are many settings where making money is not a primary or relevant concern where these ways can still become quite useful. University researchers striving to gain a deeper understanding of our universe and natural laws are among those can benefit. Hobbyists and part-time practitioners can likewise apply them to their particular circumstances as they work toward meeting their project goals. It is not an all or nothing proposition. The key is to use them wherever they make sense to incrementally increase the success rates for turning ideas and inventions into successful innovations, however success is defined.

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    The Gentle Art of Saying No

    The Gentle Art of Saying No

    No!

    It’s a simple fact that you can never be productive if you take on too many commitments — you simply spread yourself too thin and will not be able to get anything done, at least not well or on time.

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    But requests for your time are coming in all the time — through phone, email, IM or in person. To stay productive, and minimize stress, you have to learn the Gentle Art of Saying No — an art that many people have problems with.

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    What’s so hard about saying no? Well, to start with, it can hurt, anger or disappoint the person you’re saying “no” to, and that’s not usually a fun task. Second, if you hope to work with that person in the future, you’ll want to continue to have a good relationship with that person, and saying “no” in the wrong way can jeopardize that.

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    But it doesn’t have to be difficult or hard on your relationship. Here are the Top 10 tips for learning the Gentle Art of Saying No:

    1. Value your time. Know your commitments, and how valuable your precious time is. Then, when someone asks you to dedicate some of your time to a new commitment, you’ll know that you simply cannot do it. And tell them that: “I just can’t right now … my plate is overloaded as it is.”
    2. Know your priorities. Even if you do have some extra time (which for many of us is rare), is this new commitment really the way you want to spend that time? For myself, I know that more commitments means less time with my wife and kids, who are more important to me than anything.
    3. Practice saying no. Practice makes perfect. Saying “no” as often as you can is a great way to get better at it and more comfortable with saying the word. And sometimes, repeating the word is the only way to get a message through to extremely persistent people. When they keep insisting, just keep saying no. Eventually, they’ll get the message.
    4. Don’t apologize. A common way to start out is “I’m sorry but …” as people think that it sounds more polite. While politeness is important, apologizing just makes it sound weaker. You need to be firm, and unapologetic about guarding your time.
    5. Stop being nice. Again, it’s important to be polite, but being nice by saying yes all the time only hurts you. When you make it easy for people to grab your time (or money), they will continue to do it. But if you erect a wall, they will look for easier targets. Show them that your time is well guarded by being firm and turning down as many requests (that are not on your top priority list) as possible.
    6. Say no to your boss. Sometimes we feel that we have to say yes to our boss — they’re our boss, right? And if we say “no” then we look like we can’t handle the work — at least, that’s the common reasoning. But in fact, it’s the opposite — explain to your boss that by taking on too many commitments, you are weakening your productivity and jeopardizing your existing commitments. If your boss insists that you take on the project, go over your project or task list and ask him/her to re-prioritize, explaining that there’s only so much you can take on at one time.
    7. Pre-empting. It’s often much easier to pre-empt requests than to say “no” to them after the request has been made. If you know that requests are likely to be made, perhaps in a meeting, just say to everyone as soon as you come into the meeting, “Look guys, just to let you know, my week is booked full with some urgent projects and I won’t be able to take on any new requests.”
    8. Get back to you. Instead of providing an answer then and there, it’s often better to tell the person you’ll give their request some thought and get back to them. This will allow you to give it some consideration, and check your commitments and priorities. Then, if you can’t take on the request, simply tell them: “After giving this some thought, and checking my commitments, I won’t be able to accommodate the request at this time.” At least you gave it some consideration.
    9. Maybe later. If this is an option that you’d like to keep open, instead of just shutting the door on the person, it’s often better to just say, “This sounds like an interesting opportunity, but I just don’t have the time at the moment. Perhaps you could check back with me in [give a time frame].” Next time, when they check back with you, you might have some free time on your hands.
    10. It’s not you, it’s me. This classic dating rejection can work in other situations. Don’t be insincere about it, though. Often the person or project is a good one, but it’s just not right for you, at least not at this time. Simply say so — you can compliment the idea, the project, the person, the organization … but say that it’s not the right fit, or it’s not what you’re looking for at this time. Only say this if it’s true — people can sense insincerity.

    Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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