Never before has it been easier to have a world-changing idea in tech and see that idea through to a finished product. The internet has made the collectivisation of information possible for the first time in our history and mobile devices now mean we all have access to this information from wheresoever we find ourselves killing time. Low barriers to entry, cheap credit and widespread skills mean that almost anyone can wake up one day with an idea, borrow money, hire a small team or agency, and launch a finished product a few short months later.
So all you need is an original idea, and success will follow automatically from that. Right?
Well, not exactly. Three problems:
- The first thing to say about this tempting but ultimately wrong-headed way of thinking is that, sadly, there aren't that many new product ideas to be had any more. Try searching for anything, even the most outlandish app store searches seem to return one or more results (cat name generator, anyone?). It's very easy to become disheartened by the pre-existence of almost any website or app idea you have. Easy, but as we shall see, pointless.
- The second thing to bear in mind is that the first thing (see above) actually doesn't matter. In fact, it’s a good thing. Just because someone has already had your idea for an incredibly original, cross-platform "things to do" list app doesn't mean than you shouldn't have a punt at it too, so long as, and this is the important bit, you can improve on what is there already. (I would go so far as to say it's actually better if there are one or two players in the market already. Think of them as your product testers, willingly spending their own money to build a beta version of your product in order to highlight all the possible areas for you to swoop in and improve!)
- And third and final thing to say (in my campaign to denigrate the value of good ideas) is that, well, ideas are cheap. We all have them all the time. The thing that made Facebook successful is not, arguably, that it was a blindingly original idea (which it certainly wasn’t) but is down to canny management and partnerships, and some incredibly skilful handling of marketing and scalability issues. The idea itself matters far less than its execution.
So... The solution? Keep a record (Trello?) of ALL your product ideas. The more you jot them down, the faster they will flow. Research each of them individually to asses the market and the competition. Don't be downhearted when you find that someone has been there before (they almost always will have). Jump for joy that someone is bravely making your mistakes for you.
Select your best idea based not only on the sparseness of competition, but also on scaling and marketing costs, and most importantly, does it turn YOU on? You're the one who is going to be looking at it every day.