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Idea Generation To Execution: Fastlane Millionaire's Step By Step Guide

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NeoDialectic

Successfully Exited the Rat Race
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Feb 11, 2022
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Phoenix, az
After posting my general advice post here , I realized that one of the most burning questions that people struggle with is "how do I come up with an idea that isn't already done?" and "how do I test whether I can successfully sell this product without a huge investment?".

This is the first time I am writing down this process on paper, but this process in general is one of the ways my business partner and I have successfully launched multiple big products that have been in the hands of hundreds of thousands of happy customers.

Hopefully this thread will show you how to do that with a real step by step example of how to do this. I will also try to include my reasoning for decisions along the way. So this will be a long thread with multiple parts. Even though I have already went through the example all the way through posting; Writing detailed accounts take a long time. So today I am tackling the idea generation part. Depending on the response over the next week or so, I will add a post detailing how to bootstrap your way through successfully testing the product. I can also add a post detailing a few unsuccessful iterations, to showcase what failed attempts look like.

Disclaimers:
  • This is FAR from the only way to do this. By providing the following steps, I am not saying that this is the best way to start a business. But these are difficult questions to answer in an actionable and generalizable fashion, so I have chosen a niche and path that I could do just that. I believe others methods have been posted before on these forums. For example like searching for everyday items on Amazon and seeing what all the 1 star reviews have in common and solve that issue.
  • The best way to think of an idea is to be familiar with a product or field and try to solve an issue that you or someone you know runs into. In this exercise I am attempting to answer not just how to test a product, but also how to come up with an idea when your mind is running completely blank. The point is to show that the only thing holding you back is your willingness to put in work/time and not your experience/age/finances/etc. If you have an advantage in either of those (know a problem to solve or you have sufficient finances to fund faster experimentation) then I would recommend using that.
  • You are taking a peek at my exact process that I would take to think of and test a product under these circumstances. That means I have not actually made and tested this product but I actually do believe this would be a good product to test. My bar here would be to test X amount of products and only 1 has to catch on to be a success.
  • My example will be testing on Amazon as it is the most lucrative marketplace and simultaneously probably the hardest to do so as your are playing by their stringent rules. However you can apply the same methods for any other marketplace and/or search engine and you would just be dealing with less traffic but likely have more control.
  • If you want to copy any part of this, you can. But please know that I only went surface level for the purpose of this exercise. I don't endorse any of the companies mentioned (I haven't necessarily worked with them) and I haven't done all the legal research and due diligence.
Prelude:

What do I need?
  • An Amazon seller account
  • Willingness to spend $50-$200 on product and another couple hundred on advertising. There may be cheaper ways to do this with close to zero investment and I will annotate those options, but they all come with drawbacks

The Idea Framework:

When starting to brainstorm ideas from scratch, I am thinking about the question "what scenario or group of people can I provide value to in a specific way that others haven't?" Thinking about the question this way helps me find a niche. Here is an outline of the steps that you can follow.

  1. Think of attributes that separate people into groups with possible unique needs or requirements. Example: Height, age, sex,race,hair color, eye color, skin color, disability or special needs, left/right handedness, location, etc...
  2. Think of questions that could expose unique needs that these people would have just as a byproduct of being in this group. You are proding for problems to solve. If you had personal experience and unsolved problems, you wouldn't need to do this step. But you have none, so here we are. Examples:
    • What ingredients are X sensitive to?
    • What ingredients should X avoid?
    • What do people with X have to be careful of?
  3. Literally google the questions and read a good amount of results. Each problem that you encounter, add it to a Problems List and then see if there is a solution that is specifically marketed for this problem on Amazon. If the group itself is super niche, this may actually be enough! However this is usually not enough as most issues in the big groups have been addressed in the marketplace. You can also type that same question with the word "forum" afterward to see what people on forums have been complaining about as well. This can sometimes be gold for finding budding problems that the market hasn't caught up with yet. These base problems could also be harder to test sometimes because you may need to come up with a completely new invention or product versus repurposing other products that provide a solution.
  4. If you have found that all the very general problems have been taken care of, you should move onto the next step of the niche discovery process. Put yourself in the shoes of this group and think of ways your Problems List can be affected by everyday tasks or common products. Lets call this the Interaction List. This list obviously has unlimited iterations. Just make sure it is something that would have a large enough audience.
  5. Use google to see if the things on your Interaction list are actually issues or not. Example language: Does (some product or action) cause (some issue) for (group of people) . This is a good time to also see recommended solutions to these interactions. This will help you gauge whether this is something you can solve without reinventing the wheel.
  6. Search Amazon to see if there is a solution for this specifically.
  7. Go through steps 1-6 over and over again until you find a problem that has not been solved and that follow a majority of MJ's CENTS model. Ideally it would be something that you can creatively test without too big of investment. This isn't a requirement, but with unlimited problems to solve, why not make it easy on yourself?
OK. So those are the basic steps I recommend you follow for this method. If you are confused about any of the steps see the next part.

The Idea Example:

Here is the process I went through for this thread. I went through many FAILED iterations before coming up with this final product. However for brevity's sake, I will post a few examples in a follow-up post and not here. The steps line up to the previous chapters steps.

  1. People with blonde hair.
  2. Here are the two questions that made sense within the context of the group
    • "What do people with blonde hair have to be careful of?"
    • "What ingredients should blondes avoid?"
  3. Here is a short list of things that made my sample Problems List. If you google my questions from #2, you will see that this list is easily made just from the first page of results.
    • Hydration
    • Heat
    • Sun
    • Fading
    • Staining
    • Using things with dye's
    • Chlorine
    • Harsh Chemicals
    • Using color-safe hair care products
  4. All these issues are either things that the people in the group can just avoid, or there are solutions to the problem. So now I need to make an Interactions List. A good way to whittle down the list from unlimited is by excluding things that are directly related or unique to the specific problem. For example, it should be obvious that products designed specifically for blonde or colored hair are already solving the issue. There is no need in wasting time to see if you can make a shampoo that avoids those things (unless you have reason to believe otherwise). So I will think of things that may touch or expose blonde peoples hair to things on the Problems Listas a byproduct of normal daily activity and not specific to blonde people activity. A small list of immediate thoughts:
    • Hats
    • Scrunchies
    • Sunscreen
    • Lotions
    • Shower water
    • Going swimming
  5. I start googling and cross referencing with Amazon. With many of these it becomes immediately apparent that these issues have been solved (and I would have known that if I had colored hair). However I land on jackpot with "Does sunscreen discolor blonde hair". The answer is YES. Normal sunscreen discolors colored hair. Yes there are ways to continue to use sunscreen without discoloring hair. For example, further google searches shows that common ingredients like Avebenzone and Octocrylene are what cause the discoloration and mineral sunscreens do not.
  6. I search Amazon for "sunscreen for people with blonde hair", "sunscreen for people with colored hair", "sunscreen for blonde hair", and many other iterations. What I find is that there are sunscreen that you can specifically apply to colored hair to protect it, but there is no SKIN sunscreen that is advertised as being color safe. So when someone applies their generic face sunscreen, it can fade their bangs, eyebrows, mustache, etc...
  7. Bingo. This is an issue that affects a large group of people, so its scaling potential is huge. Even better, it has no direct competitors. This may seem like a home run, but I wouldn't get ahead of myself. Just because this is a common and unique problem that can be solved, doesn't mean people will actually search for or care for you to solve it.
That's it folks. Thats the idea part of the process. Next is the testing phase. Research Phase and then finally comes the Testing Phase.

:bulb:Follow up posts to this series:
---- The Preliminary Testing Phase
---- The Testing Phase
 
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Last edited:

Chris Sciora

Bronze Contributor
Read Fastlane!
Speedway Pass
Feb 15, 2022
159
187
After posting my general advice post here , I realized that one of the most burning questions that people struggle with is "how do I come up with an idea that isn't already done?" and "how do I test whether I can successfully sell this product without a huge investment?".

This is the first time I am writing down this process on paper, but this process in general is one of the ways my business partner and I have successfully launched multiple big products that have been in the hands of hundreds of thousands of happy customers.

Hopefully this thread will show you how to do that with a real step by step example of how to do this. I will also try to include my reasoning for decisions along the way. So this will be a long thread with multiple parts. Even though I have already went through the example all the way through posting; Writing detailed accounts take a long time. So today I am tackling the idea generation part. Depending on the response over the next week or so, I will add a post detailing how to bootstrap your way through successfully testing the product. I can also add a post detailing a few unsuccessful iterations, to showcase what failed attempts look like.

Disclaimers:
  • This is FAR from the only way to do this. By providing the following steps, I am not saying that this is the best way to start a business. But these are difficult questions to answer in an actionable and generalizable fashion, so I have chosen a niche and path that I could do just that. I believe others methods have been posted before on these forums. For example like searching for everyday items on Amazon and seeing what all the 1 star reviews have in common and solve that issue.
  • The best way to think of an idea is to be familiar with a product or field and try to solve an issue that you or someone you know runs into. In this exercise I am attempting to answer not just how to test a product, but also how to come up with an idea when your mind is running completely blank. The point is to show that the only thing holding you back is your willingness to put in work/time and not your experience/age/finances/etc. If you have an advantage in either of those (know a problem to solve or you have sufficient finances to fund faster experimentation) then I would recommend using that.
  • You are taking a peek at my exact process that I would take to think of and test a product under these circumstances. That means I have not actually made and tested this product but I actually do believe this would be a good product to test. My bar here would be to test X amount of products and only 1 has to catch on to be a success.
  • My example will be testing on Amazon as it is the most lucrative marketplace and simultaneously probably the hardest to do so as your are playing by their stringent rules. However you can apply the same methods for any other marketplace and/or search engine and you would just be dealing with less traffic but likely have more control.
  • If you want to copy any part of this, you can. But please know that I only went surface level for the purpose of this exercise. I don't endorse any of the companies mentioned (I haven't necessarily worked with them) and I haven't done all the legal research and due diligence.
Prelude:

What do I need?
  • An Amazon seller account
  • Willingness to spend $50-$200 on product and another couple hundred on advertising. There may be cheaper ways to do this with close to zero investment and I will annotate those options, but they all come with drawbacks

The Idea Framework:

When starting to brainstorm ideas from scratch, I am thinking about the question "what scenario or group of people can I provide value to in a specific way that others haven't?" Thinking about the question this way helps me find a niche. Here is an outline of the steps that you can follow.

  1. Think of attributes that separate people into groups with possible unique needs or requirements. Example: Height, age, sex,race,hair color, eye color, skin color, disability or special needs, left/right handedness, location, etc...
  2. Think of questions that could expose unique needs that these people would have just as a byproduct of being in this group. You are proding for problems to solve. If you had personal experience and unsolved problems, you wouldn't need to do this step. But you have none, so here we are. Examples:
    • What ingredients are X sensitive to?
    • What ingredients should X avoid?
    • What do people with X have to be careful of?
  3. Literally google the questions and read a good amount of results. Each problem that you encounter, add it to a Problems List and then see if there is a solution that is specifically marketed for this problem on Amazon. If the group itself is super niche, this may actually be enough! However this is usually not enough as most issues in the big groups have been addressed in the marketplace. You can also type that same question with the word "forum" afterward to see what people on forums have been complaining about as well. This can sometimes be gold for finding budding problems that the market hasn't caught up with yet. These base problems could also be harder to test sometimes because you may need to come up with a completely new invention or product versus repurposing other products that provide a solution.
  4. If you have found that all the very general problems have been taken care of, you should move onto the next step of the niche discovery process. Put yourself in the shoes of this group and think of ways your Problems List can be affected by everyday tasks or common products. Lets call this the Interaction List. This list obviously has unlimited iterations. Just make sure it is something that would have a large enough audience.
  5. Use google to see if the things on your Interaction list are actually issues or not. Example language: Does (some product or action) cause (some issue) for (group of people) . This is a good time to also see recommended solutions to these interactions. This will help you gauge whether this is something you can solve without reinventing the wheel.
  6. Search Amazon to see if there is a solution for this specifically.
  7. Go through steps 1-6 over and over again until you find a problem that has not been solved and that follow a majority of MJ's CENTS model. Ideally it would be something that you can creatively test without too big of investment. This isn't a requirement, but with unlimited problems to solve, why not make it easy on yourself?
OK. So those are the basic steps I recommend you follow for this method. If you are confused about any of the steps see the next part.

The Idea Example:

Here is the process I went through for this thread. I went through many FAILED iterations before coming up with this final product. However for brevity's sake, I will post a few examples in a follow-up post and not here. The steps line up to the previous chapters steps.

  1. People with blonde hair.
  2. Here are the two questions that made sense within the context of the group
    • "What do people with blonde hair have to be careful of?"
    • "What ingredients should blondes avoid?"
  3. Here is a short list of things that made my sample Problems List. If you google my questions from #2, you will see that this list is easily made just from the first page of results.
    • Hydration
    • Heat
    • Sun
    • Fading
    • Staining
    • Using things with dye's
    • Chlorine
    • Harsh Chemicals
    • Using color-safe hair care products
  4. All these issues are either things that the people in the group can just avoid, or there are solutions to the problem. So now I need to make an Interactions List. A good way to whittle down the list from unlimited is by excluding things that are directly related or unique to the specific problem. For example, it should be obvious that products designed specifically for blonde or colored hair are already solving the issue. There is no need in wasting time to see if you can make a shampoo that avoids those things (unless you have reason to believe otherwise). So I will think of things that may touch or expose blonde peoples hair to things on the Problems Listas a byproduct of normal daily activity and not specific to blonde people activity. A small list of immediate thoughts:
    • Hats
    • Scrunchies
    • Sunscreen
    • Lotions
    • Shower water
    • Going swimming
  5. I start googling and cross referencing with Amazon. With many of these it becomes immediately apparent that these issues have been solved (and I would have known that if I had colored hair). However I land on jackpot with "Does sunscreen discolor blonde hair". The answer is YES. Normal sunscreen discolors colored hair. Yes there are ways to continue to use sunscreen without discoloring hair. For example, further google searches shows that common ingredients like Avebenzone and Octocrylene are what cause the discoloration and mineral sunscreens do not.
  6. I search Amazon for "sunscreen for people with blonde hair", "sunscreen for people with colored hair", "sunscreen for blonde hair", and many other iterations. What I find is that there are sunscreen that you can specifically apply to colored hair to protect it, but there is no SKIN sunscreen that is advertised as being color safe. So when someone applies their generic face sunscreen, it can fade their bangs, eyebrows, mustache, etc...
  7. Bingo. This is an issue that affects a large group of people, so its scaling potential is huge. Even better, it has no direct competitors. This may seem like a home run, but I wouldn't get ahead of myself. Just because this is a common and unique problem that can be solved, doesn't mean people will actually search for or care for you to solve it.
That's it folks. Thats the idea part of the process. Next is the testing phase.
This is really fascinating to me. It's like watching a movie play out. Great stuff and hugely educational.

It's a reliable product identification strategy without leaving your laptop. I wouldn't have thought that possible.
 

theguy22

Contributor
Dec 13, 2021
52
34
London, United Kingdom
  1. Bingo. This is an issue that affects a large group of people, so its scaling potential is huge. Even better, it has no direct competitors. This may seem like a home run, but I wouldn't get ahead of myself. Just because this is a common and unique problem that can be solved, doesn't mean people will actually search for or care for you to solve it.
What a cliff hanger to leave at hahah!

But yes this is what I have often found too. I'd discover a large enough problem that needs to be solved, only to find out that the reason it's not solved already is because it's near impossible to. This is what I realised when I had an idea for a car product few months ago.

Another example of this is an anti-perspirant (not deodorant) that doesn't leave yellow marks on white shirts. The difference between an anti-perspirant and a deodorant is that the former has aluminium whereas the latter doesn't. It's the aluminium that mixes with sweat that causes the yellow marks on white shirts. The problem is though, aluminium is what blocks out sweat, it's the reason why we wear anti-perspirants. Yes you could just wear a deodorant but a deodorant does not do anything in regards to sweat, it's just a super-weak cologne that makes you smell good.

There are many anti-perspirants, including ones from big brands like Axe/Lynx, Nivea, etc, that are advertised as 'anti-yellow marks' but none of them actually work.
 

Antifragile

Legendary Contributor
EPIC CONTRIBUTOR
Read Rat-Race Escape!
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Mar 15, 2018
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For all the new entrepreneurs who are willing to put in the work, I have a few inconveniences that I'd pay for if you solved them. I like swimming. Hit the pool with a team and a coach a few times a week. My goggles and swim trunks get worn out quickly. Finding swimming equipment is getting harder. It's not as popular of a sport as say, running. It's a bit niche as brick and mortar stores at "the local mall" are more about chilling by the pool and not sports swimming.

1. Goggles with chlorine get foggy after some use.
2. Swim trunks shouldn't be washed in your washer with typical laundry, worse yet with a towel. Yet after pool they smell like chlorine.

So what do I end up doing?

Lucky I can afford to just keep buying new. I wash the trunks with a towel after each visit to the pool. Every 2-3 months I buy a new set of goggles and trunks.

There has to be a cheaper and better way and some opportunity for someone to capitalize on it.

Apply the model of @NeoDialectic above and good luck!
 
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Tonci

Contributor
Read Rat-Race Escape!
Read Fastlane!
Read Unscripted!
Aug 29, 2021
26
52
After posting my general advice post here , I realized that one of the most burning questions that people struggle with is "how do I come up with an idea that isn't already done?" and "how do I test whether I can successfully sell this product without a huge investment?".

This is the first time I am writing down this process on paper, but this process in general is one of the ways my business partner and I have successfully launched multiple big products that have been in the hands of hundreds of thousands of happy customers.

Hopefully this thread will show you how to do that with a real step by step example of how to do this. I will also try to include my reasoning for decisions along the way. So this will be a long thread with multiple parts. Even though I have already went through the example all the way through posting; Writing detailed accounts take a long time. So today I am tackling the idea generation part. Depending on the response over the next week or so, I will add a post detailing how to bootstrap your way through successfully testing the product. I can also add a post detailing a few unsuccessful iterations, to showcase what failed attempts look like.

Disclaimers:
  • This is FAR from the only way to do this. By providing the following steps, I am not saying that this is the best way to start a business. But these are difficult questions to answer in an actionable and generalizable fashion, so I have chosen a niche and path that I could do just that. I believe others methods have been posted before on these forums. For example like searching for everyday items on Amazon and seeing what all the 1 star reviews have in common and solve that issue.
  • The best way to think of an idea is to be familiar with a product or field and try to solve an issue that you or someone you know runs into. In this exercise I am attempting to answer not just how to test a product, but also how to come up with an idea when your mind is running completely blank. The point is to show that the only thing holding you back is your willingness to put in work/time and not your experience/age/finances/etc. If you have an advantage in either of those (know a problem to solve or you have sufficient finances to fund faster experimentation) then I would recommend using that.
  • You are taking a peek at my exact process that I would take to think of and test a product under these circumstances. That means I have not actually made and tested this product but I actually do believe this would be a good product to test. My bar here would be to test X amount of products and only 1 has to catch on to be a success.
  • My example will be testing on Amazon as it is the most lucrative marketplace and simultaneously probably the hardest to do so as your are playing by their stringent rules. However you can apply the same methods for any other marketplace and/or search engine and you would just be dealing with less traffic but likely have more control.
  • If you want to copy any part of this, you can. But please know that I only went surface level for the purpose of this exercise. I don't endorse any of the companies mentioned (I haven't necessarily worked with them) and I haven't done all the legal research and due diligence.
Prelude:

What do I need?
  • An Amazon seller account
  • Willingness to spend $50-$200 on product and another couple hundred on advertising. There may be cheaper ways to do this with close to zero investment and I will annotate those options, but they all come with drawbacks

The Idea Framework:

When starting to brainstorm ideas from scratch, I am thinking about the question "what scenario or group of people can I provide value to in a specific way that others haven't?" Thinking about the question this way helps me find a niche. Here is an outline of the steps that you can follow.

  1. Think of attributes that separate people into groups with possible unique needs or requirements. Example: Height, age, sex,race,hair color, eye color, skin color, disability or special needs, left/right handedness, location, etc...
  2. Think of questions that could expose unique needs that these people would have just as a byproduct of being in this group. You are proding for problems to solve. If you had personal experience and unsolved problems, you wouldn't need to do this step. But you have none, so here we are. Examples:
    • What ingredients are X sensitive to?
    • What ingredients should X avoid?
    • What do people with X have to be careful of?
  3. Literally google the questions and read a good amount of results. Each problem that you encounter, add it to a Problems List and then see if there is a solution that is specifically marketed for this problem on Amazon. If the group itself is super niche, this may actually be enough! However this is usually not enough as most issues in the big groups have been addressed in the marketplace. You can also type that same question with the word "forum" afterward to see what people on forums have been complaining about as well. This can sometimes be gold for finding budding problems that the market hasn't caught up with yet. These base problems could also be harder to test sometimes because you may need to come up with a completely new invention or product versus repurposing other products that provide a solution.
  4. If you have found that all the very general problems have been taken care of, you should move onto the next step of the niche discovery process. Put yourself in the shoes of this group and think of ways your Problems List can be affected by everyday tasks or common products. Lets call this the Interaction List. This list obviously has unlimited iterations. Just make sure it is something that would have a large enough audience.
  5. Use google to see if the things on your Interaction list are actually issues or not. Example language: Does (some product or action) cause (some issue) for (group of people) . This is a good time to also see recommended solutions to these interactions. This will help you gauge whether this is something you can solve without reinventing the wheel.
  6. Search Amazon to see if there is a solution for this specifically.
  7. Go through steps 1-6 over and over again until you find a problem that has not been solved and that follow a majority of MJ's CENTS model. Ideally it would be something that you can creatively test without too big of investment. This isn't a requirement, but with unlimited problems to solve, why not make it easy on yourself?
OK. So those are the basic steps I recommend you follow for this method. If you are confused about any of the steps see the next part.

The Idea Example:

Here is the process I went through for this thread. I went through many FAILED iterations before coming up with this final product. However for brevity's sake, I will post a few examples in a follow-up post and not here. The steps line up to the previous chapters steps.

  1. People with blonde hair.
  2. Here are the two questions that made sense within the context of the group
    • "What do people with blonde hair have to be careful of?"
    • "What ingredients should blondes avoid?"
  3. Here is a short list of things that made my sample Problems List. If you google my questions from #2, you will see that this list is easily made just from the first page of results.
    • Hydration
    • Heat
    • Sun
    • Fading
    • Staining
    • Using things with dye's
    • Chlorine
    • Harsh Chemicals
    • Using color-safe hair care products
  4. All these issues are either things that the people in the group can just avoid, or there are solutions to the problem. So now I need to make an Interactions List. A good way to whittle down the list from unlimited is by excluding things that are directly related or unique to the specific problem. For example, it should be obvious that products designed specifically for blonde or colored hair are already solving the issue. There is no need in wasting time to see if you can make a shampoo that avoids those things (unless you have reason to believe otherwise). So I will think of things that may touch or expose blonde peoples hair to things on the Problems Listas a byproduct of normal daily activity and not specific to blonde people activity. A small list of immediate thoughts:
    • Hats
    • Scrunchies
    • Sunscreen
    • Lotions
    • Shower water
    • Going swimming
  5. I start googling and cross referencing with Amazon. With many of these it becomes immediately apparent that these issues have been solved (and I would have known that if I had colored hair). However I land on jackpot with "Does sunscreen discolor blonde hair". The answer is YES. Normal sunscreen discolors colored hair. Yes there are ways to continue to use sunscreen without discoloring hair. For example, further google searches shows that common ingredients like Avebenzone and Octocrylene are what cause the discoloration and mineral sunscreens do not.
  6. I search Amazon for "sunscreen for people with blonde hair", "sunscreen for people with colored hair", "sunscreen for blonde hair", and many other iterations. What I find is that there are sunscreen that you can specifically apply to colored hair to protect it, but there is no SKIN sunscreen that is advertised as being color safe. So when someone applies their generic face sunscreen, it can fade their bangs, eyebrows, mustache, etc...
  7. Bingo. This is an issue that affects a large group of people, so its scaling potential is huge. Even better, it has no direct competitors. This may seem like a home run, but I wouldn't get ahead of myself. Just because this is a common and unique problem that can be solved, doesn't mean people will actually search for or care for you to solve it.
That's it folks. Thats the idea part of the process. Next is the testing phase.
Thank you for your effort and the knowledge you share with us @NeoDialectic.
 

SC87Dominik

Contributor
Feb 3, 2022
12
39
What an absolute ocean of gold yourself and @fastlane_dad have been putting out recently.

Not only did you start to preach at the perfect time for me, but this and some of the other threads you two are a part of have been some of the best I've read.

Even if it is regurgitated information, just by using different wording to the same idea of fastlane entrepreneurship is a huge difference maker for those of us trying to piece together the puzzle. I really appreciate the specific details as it helps look at things on a different angle.

This post is exactly what I've been trying to understand, and I'm sure the next one about testing will be even better.
When people say "focus on the customer", they actually mean, "research the damn people and focus on the commandment of need which is solving people's specific needs/problems that they might not even be aware of".

Recently I've made the realization that ENTREPRENEURS ARE ACTORS.

WHAT WOULD AN ACTOR DO TO PREPARE FOR A ROLE OF THEIRS? THEY FULLY IMMERSE THEMSELVES INTO THE STORY OF THE CHARACTER AND THEIR NUANCES. THE BEST ACTORS ACT AS THE CHARACTER EVEN BEYOND THE FILMING HOURS. BECOME THE BEST ACTOR AS POSSIBLE, BY UNDERSTANDING THE INHERENT PROBLEM BEING FACED BY THE TARGET CUSTOMER.

This is the Commandment of Need.
 

fastlane_dad

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For all the new entrepreneurs who are willing to put in the work, I have a few inconveniences that I'd pay for if you solved them. I like swimming. Hit the pool with a team and a coach a few times a week. My goggles and swim trunks get worn out quickly. Finding swimming equipment is getting harder. It's not as popular of a sport as say, running. It's a bit niche as brick and mortar stores at "the local mall" are more about chilling by the pool and not sports swimming.

1. Goggles with chlorine get foggy after some use.
2. Swim trunks shouldn't be washed in your washer with typical laundry, worse yet with a towel. Yet after pool they smell like chlorine.

So what do I end up doing?

Lucky I can afford to just keep buying new. I wash the trunks with a towel after each visit to the pool. Every 2-3 months I buy a new set of goggles and trunks.

There has to be a cheaper and better way and some opportunity for someone to capitalize on it.

Apply the model of @NeoDialectic above and good luck!
As an ex-avid swimmer I definitely encountered both the issues you mention of. I used to go swimming 4-5x a week but slowed down on that since as the chlorine was taking a heavier toll on my skin and really drying me out. It did not help the fact that I / pool was out in AZ sun as well. I do plan on returning to the pool in some fashion in the near future though.

What an absolute ocean of gold yourself and @fastlane_dad have been putting out recently.

Not only did you start to preach at the perfect time for me, but this and some of the other threads you two are a part of have been some of the best I've read.

Even if it is regurgitated information, just by using different wording to the same idea of fastlane entrepreneurship is a huge difference maker for those of us trying to piece together the puzzle. I really appreciate the specific details as it helps look at things on a different angle.

This post is exactly what I've been trying to understand, and I'm sure the next one about testing will be even better.
When people say "focus on the customer", they actually mean, "research the damn people and focus on the commandment of need which is solving people's specific needs/problems that they might not even be aware of".

Recently I've made the realization that ENTREPRENEURS ARE ACTORS.

WHAT WOULD AN ACTOR DO TO PREPARE FOR A ROLE OF THEIRS? THEY FULLY IMMERSE THEMSELVES INTO THE STORY OF THE CHARACTER AND THEIR NUANCES. THE BEST ACTORS ACT AS THE CHARACTER EVEN BEYOND THE FILMING HOURS. BECOME THE BEST ACTOR AS POSSIBLE, BY UNDERSTANDING THE INHERENT PROBLEM BEING FACED BY THE TARGET CUSTOMER.

This is the Commandment of Need.
Thanks for your feedback and encouragement.

We (@NeoDialectic) and I are really at a sweet spot where both of our schedules freed up past selling all of our businesses, and would love to see how we can help the community.

We have hashed out many countless hundreds (more like thousands haha) of hours of conversations / brainstorming / theory / philosophy and the such - ALL applicable to business, over our close to twenty years of working together side by side in the same office. We countlessly analyze and ask what are the 80/20 actions in our business that have produced the success us and others would be looking for. We would also continuously analyze why some competitors would flounder, where we kept on persevering.

We beat many / all topics nearly to death, read nearly the same books and have both been passionate about entrepreneurship since a young age.

All the input is greatly appreciated and we hope to provide more value all around and see how we can address some of the common issues (especially early startup entrepreneurs are facing). If we can put it down into words and make and help make an actionable plan for someone, or set in place the mindset with which to move forward with - that'd be great as well.

Most the posts we write, the other one proofreads. There is still much much more we'd love to give and hope this is only the start.

The toughest part of this entire fastlane gig (and it still is our toughest part as well) - is making a plan and eventually acting on it!
 
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Antifragile

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As an ex-avid swimmer I definitely encountered both the issues you mention of.
Awesome. The reason I mention this as an example is that it’s something you can pre-sell without Amazon and in great quantities to all pools. Each pool, including ours, has a little “store”, it’s more like a glass closet - tiny, but it’s there. And the value skew is convenient access. Convince our coach and he’ll probably let you show your product to the team. There 23 loyal customers who’re like me all on “subscription model” :rofl: of replacing goggles and trunks. Deliver to me every 3 months - and you’ve got the easiest repeat sale! Solve the problem so I pay a touch less (2nd value skew) and boom, referral revenue.

Opportunity is always there. Can you see it? That’s a different question. It’s a lot of fun to think about these things. Entrepreneurship is addictive! Haha.
 

DougRMR

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After posting my general advice post here , I realized that one of the most burning questions that people struggle with is "how do I come up with an idea that isn't already done?" and "how do I test whether I can successfully sell this product without a huge investment?".

This is the first time I am writing down this process on paper, but this process in general is one of the ways my business partner and I have successfully launched multiple big products that have been in the hands of hundreds of thousands of happy customers.

Hopefully this thread will show you how to do that with a real step by step example of how to do this. I will also try to include my reasoning for decisions along the way. So this will be a long thread with multiple parts. Even though I have already went through the example all the way through posting; Writing detailed accounts take a long time. So today I am tackling the idea generation part. Depending on the response over the next week or so, I will add a post detailing how to bootstrap your way through successfully testing the product. I can also add a post detailing a few unsuccessful iterations, to showcase what failed attempts look like.

Disclaimers:
  • This is FAR from the only way to do this. By providing the following steps, I am not saying that this is the best way to start a business. But these are difficult questions to answer in an actionable and generalizable fashion, so I have chosen a niche and path that I could do just that. I believe others methods have been posted before on these forums. For example like searching for everyday items on Amazon and seeing what all the 1 star reviews have in common and solve that issue.
  • The best way to think of an idea is to be familiar with a product or field and try to solve an issue that you or someone you know runs into. In this exercise I am attempting to answer not just how to test a product, but also how to come up with an idea when your mind is running completely blank. The point is to show that the only thing holding you back is your willingness to put in work/time and not your experience/age/finances/etc. If you have an advantage in either of those (know a problem to solve or you have sufficient finances to fund faster experimentation) then I would recommend using that.
  • You are taking a peek at my exact process that I would take to think of and test a product under these circumstances. That means I have not actually made and tested this product but I actually do believe this would be a good product to test. My bar here would be to test X amount of products and only 1 has to catch on to be a success.
  • My example will be testing on Amazon as it is the most lucrative marketplace and simultaneously probably the hardest to do so as your are playing by their stringent rules. However you can apply the same methods for any other marketplace and/or search engine and you would just be dealing with less traffic but likely have more control.
  • If you want to copy any part of this, you can. But please know that I only went surface level for the purpose of this exercise. I don't endorse any of the companies mentioned (I haven't necessarily worked with them) and I haven't done all the legal research and due diligence.
Prelude:

What do I need?
  • An Amazon seller account
  • Willingness to spend $50-$200 on product and another couple hundred on advertising. There may be cheaper ways to do this with close to zero investment and I will annotate those options, but they all come with drawbacks

The Idea Framework:

When starting to brainstorm ideas from scratch, I am thinking about the question "what scenario or group of people can I provide value to in a specific way that others haven't?" Thinking about the question this way helps me find a niche. Here is an outline of the steps that you can follow.

  1. Think of attributes that separate people into groups with possible unique needs or requirements. Example: Height, age, sex,race,hair color, eye color, skin color, disability or special needs, left/right handedness, location, etc...
  2. Think of questions that could expose unique needs that these people would have just as a byproduct of being in this group. You are proding for problems to solve. If you had personal experience and unsolved problems, you wouldn't need to do this step. But you have none, so here we are. Examples:
    • What ingredients are X sensitive to?
    • What ingredients should X avoid?
    • What do people with X have to be careful of?
  3. Literally google the questions and read a good amount of results. Each problem that you encounter, add it to a Problems List and then see if there is a solution that is specifically marketed for this problem on Amazon. If the group itself is super niche, this may actually be enough! However this is usually not enough as most issues in the big groups have been addressed in the marketplace. You can also type that same question with the word "forum" afterward to see what people on forums have been complaining about as well. This can sometimes be gold for finding budding problems that the market hasn't caught up with yet. These base problems could also be harder to test sometimes because you may need to come up with a completely new invention or product versus repurposing other products that provide a solution.
  4. If you have found that all the very general problems have been taken care of, you should move onto the next step of the niche discovery process. Put yourself in the shoes of this group and think of ways your Problems List can be affected by everyday tasks or common products. Lets call this the Interaction List. This list obviously has unlimited iterations. Just make sure it is something that would have a large enough audience.
  5. Use google to see if the things on your Interaction list are actually issues or not. Example language: Does (some product or action) cause (some issue) for (group of people) . This is a good time to also see recommended solutions to these interactions. This will help you gauge whether this is something you can solve without reinventing the wheel.
  6. Search Amazon to see if there is a solution for this specifically.
  7. Go through steps 1-6 over and over again until you find a problem that has not been solved and that follow a majority of MJ's CENTS model. Ideally it would be something that you can creatively test without too big of investment. This isn't a requirement, but with unlimited problems to solve, why not make it easy on yourself?
OK. So those are the basic steps I recommend you follow for this method. If you are confused about any of the steps see the next part.

The Idea Example:

Here is the process I went through for this thread. I went through many FAILED iterations before coming up with this final product. However for brevity's sake, I will post a few examples in a follow-up post and not here. The steps line up to the previous chapters steps.

  1. People with blonde hair.
  2. Here are the two questions that made sense within the context of the group
    • "What do people with blonde hair have to be careful of?"
    • "What ingredients should blondes avoid?"
  3. Here is a short list of things that made my sample Problems List. If you google my questions from #2, you will see that this list is easily made just from the first page of results.
    • Hydration
    • Heat
    • Sun
    • Fading
    • Staining
    • Using things with dye's
    • Chlorine
    • Harsh Chemicals
    • Using color-safe hair care products
  4. All these issues are either things that the people in the group can just avoid, or there are solutions to the problem. So now I need to make an Interactions List. A good way to whittle down the list from unlimited is by excluding things that are directly related or unique to the specific problem. For example, it should be obvious that products designed specifically for blonde or colored hair are already solving the issue. There is no need in wasting time to see if you can make a shampoo that avoids those things (unless you have reason to believe otherwise). So I will think of things that may touch or expose blonde peoples hair to things on the Problems Listas a byproduct of normal daily activity and not specific to blonde people activity. A small list of immediate thoughts:
    • Hats
    • Scrunchies
    • Sunscreen
    • Lotions
    • Shower water
    • Going swimming
  5. I start googling and cross referencing with Amazon. With many of these it becomes immediately apparent that these issues have been solved (and I would have known that if I had colored hair). However I land on jackpot with "Does sunscreen discolor blonde hair". The answer is YES. Normal sunscreen discolors colored hair. Yes there are ways to continue to use sunscreen without discoloring hair. For example, further google searches shows that common ingredients like Avebenzone and Octocrylene are what cause the discoloration and mineral sunscreens do not.
  6. I search Amazon for "sunscreen for people with blonde hair", "sunscreen for people with colored hair", "sunscreen for blonde hair", and many other iterations. What I find is that there are sunscreen that you can specifically apply to colored hair to protect it, but there is no SKIN sunscreen that is advertised as being color safe. So when someone applies their generic face sunscreen, it can fade their bangs, eyebrows, mustache, etc...
  7. Bingo. This is an issue that affects a large group of people, so its scaling potential is huge. Even better, it has no direct competitors. This may seem like a home run, but I wouldn't get ahead of myself. Just because this is a common and unique problem that can be solved, doesn't mean people will actually search for or care for you to solve it.
That's it folks. Thats the idea part of the process. Next is the testing phase.
This is great stuff. Loving the value and will definitely stay tuned for your other posts.

Though, can you clarify what the Interactions List is, exactly? I can't seem to grasp it. Is it referring to what could cause/solve the audience's problem in every day life?
 

Parks

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This thread is amazing. MJ needs to bring back being able to giving rep points or value points for valuable posts. You guys rock.

What was your guys old account name? Would love to dig through some of your posts.
 
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Parks

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As an ex-avid swimmer I definitely encountered both the issues you mention of. I used to go swimming 4-5x a week but slowed down on that since as the chlorine was taking a heavier toll on my skin and really drying me out. It did not help the fact that I / pool was out in AZ sun as well. I do plan on returning to the pool in some fashion in the near future though.

I would like to 2nd or 3rd this problem to be solved. I am a heavy jacuzzi user but have had to stop after frying my hands and back, been jacuzziing heavy since I was a kid and only suffering from this now. Never knew I had eczema until I couldn't use my hands or bend over without itching to death after a recent jacuzzi or pool session.
 

MJ DeMarco

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Upgraded to GOLD, thanks for sharing your wisdom. Look forward to the other parts!
 

MTF

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1. Goggles with chlorine get foggy after some use.

Every 2-3 months I buy a new set of goggles and trunks.

Have you tried Aqua Sphere Kaiman goggles? They should last longer than 2-3 months.

Also, do you swim year round in a swimming pool? I'm pretty sure you have some awesome open water swimming venues there, so you could train outside at least 3 months each year.

Having said that, I'm subjective here as I hate swimming pools and how they mess up my skin (which is why I pretty much stopped swimming outside of the open water season).

As a side note, I wish there were swimming pools that were chlorine-free yet still safe for swimming. I know there are some natural pools - 7 Natural Swimming Pools That Are Completely Chlorine-Free but they're all outside (understandably - the plants need light).
 
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NeoDialectic

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What a cliff hanger to leave at hahah!

But yes this is what I have often found too. I'd discover a large enough problem that needs to be solved, only to find out that the reason it's not solved already is because it's near impossible to. This is what I realised when I had an idea for a car product few months ago.

Another example of this is an anti-perspirant (not deodorant) that doesn't leave yellow marks on white shirts. The difference between an anti-perspirant and a deodorant is that the former has aluminium whereas the latter doesn't. It's the aluminium that mixes with sweat that causes the yellow marks on white shirts. The problem is though, aluminium is what blocks out sweat, it's the reason why we wear anti-perspirants. Yes you could just wear a deodorant but a deodorant does not do anything in regards to sweat, it's just a super-weak cologne that makes you smell good.

There are many anti-perspirants, including ones from big brands like Axe/Lynx, Nivea, etc, that are advertised as 'anti-yellow marks' but none of them actually work.

Every beginning entrepreneur seems to have different stumbling blocks. You point out a big one. They successfully regear their brains to start looking for problems. But once they try to figure out how to solve them, they quickly find that in alot of fields, there is a reason the issues are not solved. It's not like big companies wouldn't want to solve the issue! I'm not saying that you couldn't figure it out where big companies didn't. Just that different types of ventures and solutions, take different levels of commitment. I don't want to discourage you from trying to solve the issue in an innovative way through deep thought, research and experimentation.

However, what I do want to suggest is that if you are just starting off and you keep running into these issues, try a different point of view and see if it helps you.

You don't have Nivea's r&d budget or employees with technical expertise. What you do have is
  1. Time
  2. Lower Success Threshold - They are so busy it may not be worth it for Nivea to release a product that will make them 100k a year, but it is for you
  3. Higher risk tolerance - A big company has alot of bureaucracy and it takes alot of resources to start something new. Product line failure is a big deal. Atleast to the teams responsible for it (could be their job!). On the other hand, you are going into this knowing it may very well fail and it's ok because you will try other things right after. The most important thing is to be persist. The only common personality trait @fastlane_dad and I could ever find for entrepreneurs is persistence. They kept trying until skill, willpower, or even just dumb luck finally pulled through.
  4. The ability to creatively solve issues. Nivea can't put out a creative solution that solves peoples issues but is half baked. They've got a reputation on the line! You can. Nivea's highly educated scientists may be above asking average uneducated joe's how they currently solve the issue. You aren't. Nivea is a skin care brand so they will focus on skincare solutions. You are a ball of clay. If searching for the solutions leads you to creating shirts, then you become a shirt brand!
Creativity is probably one of the big skills that alot of beginner entrepreneurs need to build up. I know telling you to creatively solve the issue just sounds like a useless platitude, so I will try to give you an example. My next step after finding that accepted research shows that officially only the current solution works is consult with THE PEOPLE! Contrary to popular belief, most accepted knowledge came about in a bottom up approach. People were doing x to solve an inconvenience for years and then someone noticed and proliferated the solution. I would search "antiperspirant leaves yellow stains forum". Forums can be a wealth of knowledge (duh). One of the first results is a reddit thread "LPT: If you're sick of seeing yellow underarm stains on your white t-shirts, switch to a deodorant that does not contain aluminium.". Read through the comments. Most will be a waste of time, but some will give you ideas. Here are some of my takeaways:

  • Many people are claiming commercial aluminum-free anti-persperents do not work. But many seem to swear by them! To me, that is signaling that I shouldn't look for something that will solve EVERYONES problem as it may be a very personal problem. People may be excessively sweating for different reasons and that is why some solutions work while others don't.
  • A few people mention comments like making their own using: coconut oil, baking soda, and corn starch. Worth a try? I can just test it on myself afterall!
  • One mentions that there is a product that works great for them but is only sold in Canada. He has to buy and IMPORT it just to get it. Maybe I need to check out the ingredients and see what they got going on. Maybe it's nothing, maybe they got a unique ingredient in there.
  • All this reading makes me think... What if instead of replacing effective perspirants, I can just prevent existing ones from causing the staining problem. Maybe a pad between? It may not be worth it for their white t-shirts but what wouldn't you do to save your $100 favorite dress shirt. Checking Amazon. DOH. Looks like I wasn't the first idiot to think of it. Hmm maybe I need to get me some of these for personal use!
  • Botox injections stop sweating? Wow I didn't know that. I'm not a doctor so I can't utilize this exactly, but I will put this new knowledge in my pocket and maybe when my marketing business takes off I can reach out to botox places to help them advertise this solution. They obviously aren't doing a good job!
  • A few comments randomly mention neck sweat and that staining their shirts. Hmmm, how common is that? Googling "neck sweat staining shirt" brings up multiples articles on it. So it's common. Are their marketplace solutions? I go on Amazon and type "prevent neck sweat staining". Nothing. Is THIS the opportunity I need to start thinking about now? It's great that I could probably use what the market has already figured out for sweating in armpits and maybe repurpose it for this. Maybe even the pad solution that I found earlier can be repurposed to save shirts neckline areas. Hmmmm.
  • Hmm, maybe I need to think of the type of forum that would discuss things like this and post a thread on there asking how they deal with it. Sports forums? Exercise forums? Beauty forums? Health forums that focus on natural solutions?
This is from one measly thread and I've already created a boatload of work for myself. This is just one example of thinking outside the box to get you moving forward.
 

NeoDialectic

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Upgraded to GOLD, thanks for sharing your wisdom. Look forward to the other parts!

Thank you!

What an absolute ocean of gold yourself and @fastlane_dad have been putting out recently.

Not only did you start to preach at the perfect time for me, but this and some of the other threads you two are a part of have been some of the best I've read.

Even if it is regurgitated information, just by using different wording to the same idea of fastlane entrepreneurship is a huge difference maker for those of us trying to piece together the puzzle. I really appreciate the specific details as it helps look at things on a different angle.
Thank you for the kind words! It took my a while to appreciate just how true "Even if it is regurgitated information, just by using different wording to the same idea of fastlane entrepreneurship is a huge difference maker for those of us trying to piece together the puzzle." is. I personally love reading multiple angles on the same topic as well, but I just didn't actively think about it that way.
This is great stuff. Loving the value and will definitely stay tuned for your other posts.

Though, can you clarify what the Interactions List is, exactly? I can't seem to grasp it. Is it referring to what could cause/solve the audience's problem in every day life?
The Problems List in my example are a list of things that DIRECTLY CAUSE issues for the group of people.
The Interactions List is a list of actions or things that people use that make expose themselves to those causes.

So for example....Avebenzone and Octocrylene discolors bleach blonde peoples hairs. But no one buys Avebenzone and Octocrylene (A&O). They buy sunscreen and many sunscreens have those issues. So the A&O is the problem while sunscreen (or applying sunscreen) is the interaction that causes people to expose themselves to A&O.
 

DougRMR

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Thank you!


Thank you for the kind words! It took my a while to appreciate just how true "Even if it is regurgitated information, just by using different wording to the same idea of fastlane entrepreneurship is a huge difference maker for those of us trying to piece together the puzzle." is. I personally love reading multiple angles on the same topic as well, but I just didn't actively think about it that way.

The Problems List in my example are a list of things that DIRECTLY CAUSE issues for the group of people.
The Interactions List is a list of actions or things that people use that make expose themselves to those causes.

So for example....Avebenzone and Octocrylene discolors bleach blonde peoples hairs. But no one buys Avebenzone and Octocrylene (A&O). They buy sunscreen and many sunscreens have those issues. So the A&O is the problem while sunscreen (or applying sunscreen) is the interaction that causes people to expose themselves to A&O.
Got it!
 
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RamboCambo

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Love the thread! Do you have any tips on the execution part? Say with your hair product idea, do you bring in experts to help you make the business, source supply, learn the steps yourself before proceeding? When do you know to stop learning/know enough to actually make that product or sell that service?
 
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JorgeInmortal

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After posting my general advice post here , I realized that one of the most burning questions that people struggle with is "how do I come up with an idea that isn't already done?" and "how do I test whether I can successfully sell this product without a huge investment?".

This is the first time I am writing down this process on paper, but this process in general is one of the ways my business partner and I have successfully launched multiple big products that have been in the hands of hundreds of thousands of happy customers.

Hopefully this thread will show you how to do that with a real step by step example of how to do this. I will also try to include my reasoning for decisions along the way. So this will be a long thread with multiple parts. Even though I have already went through the example all the way through posting; Writing detailed accounts take a long time. So today I am tackling the idea generation part. Depending on the response over the next week or so, I will add a post detailing how to bootstrap your way through successfully testing the product. I can also add a post detailing a few unsuccessful iterations, to showcase what failed attempts look like.

Disclaimers:
  • This is FAR from the only way to do this. By providing the following steps, I am not saying that this is the best way to start a business. But these are difficult questions to answer in an actionable and generalizable fashion, so I have chosen a niche and path that I could do just that. I believe others methods have been posted before on these forums. For example like searching for everyday items on Amazon and seeing what all the 1 star reviews have in common and solve that issue.
  • The best way to think of an idea is to be familiar with a product or field and try to solve an issue that you or someone you know runs into. In this exercise I am attempting to answer not just how to test a product, but also how to come up with an idea when your mind is running completely blank. The point is to show that the only thing holding you back is your willingness to put in work/time and not your experience/age/finances/etc. If you have an advantage in either of those (know a problem to solve or you have sufficient finances to fund faster experimentation) then I would recommend using that.
  • You are taking a peek at my exact process that I would take to think of and test a product under these circumstances. That means I have not actually made and tested this product but I actually do believe this would be a good product to test. My bar here would be to test X amount of products and only 1 has to catch on to be a success.
  • My example will be testing on Amazon as it is the most lucrative marketplace and simultaneously probably the hardest to do so as your are playing by their stringent rules. However you can apply the same methods for any other marketplace and/or search engine and you would just be dealing with less traffic but likely have more control.
  • If you want to copy any part of this, you can. But please know that I only went surface level for the purpose of this exercise. I don't endorse any of the companies mentioned (I haven't necessarily worked with them) and I haven't done all the legal research and due diligence.
Prelude:

What do I need?
  • An Amazon seller account
  • Willingness to spend $50-$200 on product and another couple hundred on advertising. There may be cheaper ways to do this with close to zero investment and I will annotate those options, but they all come with drawbacks

The Idea Framework:

When starting to brainstorm ideas from scratch, I am thinking about the question "what scenario or group of people can I provide value to in a specific way that others haven't?" Thinking about the question this way helps me find a niche. Here is an outline of the steps that you can follow.

  1. Think of attributes that separate people into groups with possible unique needs or requirements. Example: Height, age, sex,race,hair color, eye color, skin color, disability or special needs, left/right handedness, location, etc...
  2. Think of questions that could expose unique needs that these people would have just as a byproduct of being in this group. You are proding for problems to solve. If you had personal experience and unsolved problems, you wouldn't need to do this step. But you have none, so here we are. Examples:
    • What ingredients are X sensitive to?
    • What ingredients should X avoid?
    • What do people with X have to be careful of?
  3. Literally google the questions and read a good amount of results. Each problem that you encounter, add it to a Problems List and then see if there is a solution that is specifically marketed for this problem on Amazon. If the group itself is super niche, this may actually be enough! However this is usually not enough as most issues in the big groups have been addressed in the marketplace. You can also type that same question with the word "forum" afterward to see what people on forums have been complaining about as well. This can sometimes be gold for finding budding problems that the market hasn't caught up with yet. These base problems could also be harder to test sometimes because you may need to come up with a completely new invention or product versus repurposing other products that provide a solution.
  4. If you have found that all the very general problems have been taken care of, you should move onto the next step of the niche discovery process. Put yourself in the shoes of this group and think of ways your Problems List can be affected by everyday tasks or common products. Lets call this the Interaction List. This list obviously has unlimited iterations. Just make sure it is something that would have a large enough audience.
  5. Use google to see if the things on your Interaction list are actually issues or not. Example language: Does (some product or action) cause (some issue) for (group of people) . This is a good time to also see recommended solutions to these interactions. This will help you gauge whether this is something you can solve without reinventing the wheel.
  6. Search Amazon to see if there is a solution for this specifically.
  7. Go through steps 1-6 over and over again until you find a problem that has not been solved and that follow a majority of MJ's CENTS model. Ideally it would be something that you can creatively test without too big of investment. This isn't a requirement, but with unlimited problems to solve, why not make it easy on yourself?
OK. So those are the basic steps I recommend you follow for this method. If you are confused about any of the steps see the next part.

The Idea Example:

Here is the process I went through for this thread. I went through many FAILED iterations before coming up with this final product. However for brevity's sake, I will post a few examples in a follow-up post and not here. The steps line up to the previous chapters steps.

  1. People with blonde hair.
  2. Here are the two questions that made sense within the context of the group
    • "What do people with blonde hair have to be careful of?"
    • "What ingredients should blondes avoid?"
  3. Here is a short list of things that made my sample Problems List. If you google my questions from #2, you will see that this list is easily made just from the first page of results.
    • Hydration
    • Heat
    • Sun
    • Fading
    • Staining
    • Using things with dye's
    • Chlorine
    • Harsh Chemicals
    • Using color-safe hair care products
  4. All these issues are either things that the people in the group can just avoid, or there are solutions to the problem. So now I need to make an Interactions List. A good way to whittle down the list from unlimited is by excluding things that are directly related or unique to the specific problem. For example, it should be obvious that products designed specifically for blonde or colored hair are already solving the issue. There is no need in wasting time to see if you can make a shampoo that avoids those things (unless you have reason to believe otherwise). So I will think of things that may touch or expose blonde peoples hair to things on the Problems Listas a byproduct of normal daily activity and not specific to blonde people activity. A small list of immediate thoughts:
    • Hats
    • Scrunchies
    • Sunscreen
    • Lotions
    • Shower water
    • Going swimming
  5. I start googling and cross referencing with Amazon. With many of these it becomes immediately apparent that these issues have been solved (and I would have known that if I had colored hair). However I land on jackpot with "Does sunscreen discolor blonde hair". The answer is YES. Normal sunscreen discolors colored hair. Yes there are ways to continue to use sunscreen without discoloring hair. For example, further google searches shows that common ingredients like Avebenzone and Octocrylene are what cause the discoloration and mineral sunscreens do not.
  6. I search Amazon for "sunscreen for people with blonde hair", "sunscreen for people with colored hair", "sunscreen for blonde hair", and many other iterations. What I find is that there are sunscreen that you can specifically apply to colored hair to protect it, but there is no SKIN sunscreen that is advertised as being color safe. So when someone applies their generic face sunscreen, it can fade their bangs, eyebrows, mustache, etc...
  7. Bingo. This is an issue that affects a large group of people, so its scaling potential is huge. Even better, it has no direct competitors. This may seem like a home run, but I wouldn't get ahead of myself. Just because this is a common and unique problem that can be solved, doesn't mean people will actually search for or care for you to solve it.
That's it folks. Thats the idea part of the process. Next is the testing phase.
this really gave me a lot of clarity on how to get the process right. Thank you so much!
 

yagya567

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NeoDialectic

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Love the thread! Do you have any tips on the execution part? Say with your hair product idea, do you bring in experts to help you make the business, source supply, learn the steps yourself before proceeding? When do you know to stop learning/know enough to actually make that product or sell that service?
Some of your questions will likely depend on the product itself. For our example, you would not need to hire any experts. You become the expert. The manufacturing lab you hire to manufacture the product for you can fill in some blanks. The most important knowledge for you to become an expert in isn't rebuilding the wheel (Or how to make a sunscreen), but rather in the exact area where you are adding value. So if your value add is a sunscreen that is guaranteed to not discolor hair, you have to become an expert in what ingredients discolor hair and avoid those. You can then ask your manufacturing lab to make a sunscreen using generic formula but fit your criteria.

On the other hand, not every industry has a "generic formula". Depending on your level of investment and business requirements, it would be a good idea to hire an expert.

As for the last question.... You should be in the process of making the product or selling the service AS SOON AS POSSIBLE. As soon as you can successfully provide your value add, that is when you are ready. You will improve on the way.
 
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david1024

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After posting my general advice post here , I realized that one of the most burning questions that people struggle with is "how do I come up with an idea that isn't already done?" and "how do I test whether I can successfully sell this product without a huge investment?".

This is the first time I am writing down this process on paper, but this process in general is one of the ways my business partner and I have successfully launched multiple big products that have been in the hands of hundreds of thousands of happy customers.

Hopefully this thread will show you how to do that with a real step by step example of how to do this. I will also try to include my reasoning for decisions along the way. So this will be a long thread with multiple parts. Even though I have already went through the example all the way through posting; Writing detailed accounts take a long time. So today I am tackling the idea generation part. Depending on the response over the next week or so, I will add a post detailing how to bootstrap your way through successfully testing the product. I can also add a post detailing a few unsuccessful iterations, to showcase what failed attempts look like.

Disclaimers:
  • This is FAR from the only way to do this. By providing the following steps, I am not saying that this is the best way to start a business. But these are difficult questions to answer in an actionable and generalizable fashion, so I have chosen a niche and path that I could do just that. I believe others methods have been posted before on these forums. For example like searching for everyday items on Amazon and seeing what all the 1 star reviews have in common and solve that issue.
  • The best way to think of an idea is to be familiar with a product or field and try to solve an issue that you or someone you know runs into. In this exercise I am attempting to answer not just how to test a product, but also how to come up with an idea when your mind is running completely blank. The point is to show that the only thing holding you back is your willingness to put in work/time and not your experience/age/finances/etc. If you have an advantage in either of those (know a problem to solve or you have sufficient finances to fund faster experimentation) then I would recommend using that.
  • You are taking a peek at my exact process that I would take to think of and test a product under these circumstances. That means I have not actually made and tested this product but I actually do believe this would be a good product to test. My bar here would be to test X amount of products and only 1 has to catch on to be a success.
  • My example will be testing on Amazon as it is the most lucrative marketplace and simultaneously probably the hardest to do so as your are playing by their stringent rules. However you can apply the same methods for any other marketplace and/or search engine and you would just be dealing with less traffic but likely have more control.
  • If you want to copy any part of this, you can. But please know that I only went surface level for the purpose of this exercise. I don't endorse any of the companies mentioned (I haven't necessarily worked with them) and I haven't done all the legal research and due diligence.
Prelude:

What do I need?
  • An Amazon seller account
  • Willingness to spend $50-$200 on product and another couple hundred on advertising. There may be cheaper ways to do this with close to zero investment and I will annotate those options, but they all come with drawbacks

The Idea Framework:

When starting to brainstorm ideas from scratch, I am thinking about the question "what scenario or group of people can I provide value to in a specific way that others haven't?" Thinking about the question this way helps me find a niche. Here is an outline of the steps that you can follow.

  1. Think of attributes that separate people into groups with possible unique needs or requirements. Example: Height, age, sex,race,hair color, eye color, skin color, disability or special needs, left/right handedness, location, etc...
  2. Think of questions that could expose unique needs that these people would have just as a byproduct of being in this group. You are proding for problems to solve. If you had personal experience and unsolved problems, you wouldn't need to do this step. But you have none, so here we are. Examples:
    • What ingredients are X sensitive to?
    • What ingredients should X avoid?
    • What do people with X have to be careful of?
  3. Literally google the questions and read a good amount of results. Each problem that you encounter, add it to a Problems List and then see if there is a solution that is specifically marketed for this problem on Amazon. If the group itself is super niche, this may actually be enough! However this is usually not enough as most issues in the big groups have been addressed in the marketplace. You can also type that same question with the word "forum" afterward to see what people on forums have been complaining about as well. This can sometimes be gold for finding budding problems that the market hasn't caught up with yet. These base problems could also be harder to test sometimes because you may need to come up with a completely new invention or product versus repurposing other products that provide a solution.
  4. If you have found that all the very general problems have been taken care of, you should move onto the next step of the niche discovery process. Put yourself in the shoes of this group and think of ways your Problems List can be affected by everyday tasks or common products. Lets call this the Interaction List. This list obviously has unlimited iterations. Just make sure it is something that would have a large enough audience.
  5. Use google to see if the things on your Interaction list are actually issues or not. Example language: Does (some product or action) cause (some issue) for (group of people) . This is a good time to also see recommended solutions to these interactions. This will help you gauge whether this is something you can solve without reinventing the wheel.
  6. Search Amazon to see if there is a solution for this specifically.
  7. Go through steps 1-6 over and over again until you find a problem that has not been solved and that follow a majority of MJ's CENTS model. Ideally it would be something that you can creatively test without too big of investment. This isn't a requirement, but with unlimited problems to solve, why not make it easy on yourself?
OK. So those are the basic steps I recommend you follow for this method. If you are confused about any of the steps see the next part.

The Idea Example:

Here is the process I went through for this thread. I went through many FAILED iterations before coming up with this final product. However for brevity's sake, I will post a few examples in a follow-up post and not here. The steps line up to the previous chapters steps.

  1. People with blonde hair.
  2. Here are the two questions that made sense within the context of the group
    • "What do people with blonde hair have to be careful of?"
    • "What ingredients should blondes avoid?"
  3. Here is a short list of things that made my sample Problems List. If you google my questions from #2, you will see that this list is easily made just from the first page of results.
    • Hydration
    • Heat
    • Sun
    • Fading
    • Staining
    • Using things with dye's
    • Chlorine
    • Harsh Chemicals
    • Using color-safe hair care products
  4. All these issues are either things that the people in the group can just avoid, or there are solutions to the problem. So now I need to make an Interactions List. A good way to whittle down the list from unlimited is by excluding things that are directly related or unique to the specific problem. For example, it should be obvious that products designed specifically for blonde or colored hair are already solving the issue. There is no need in wasting time to see if you can make a shampoo that avoids those things (unless you have reason to believe otherwise). So I will think of things that may touch or expose blonde peoples hair to things on the Problems Listas a byproduct of normal daily activity and not specific to blonde people activity. A small list of immediate thoughts:
    • Hats
    • Scrunchies
    • Sunscreen
    • Lotions
    • Shower water
    • Going swimming
  5. I start googling and cross referencing with Amazon. With many of these it becomes immediately apparent that these issues have been solved (and I would have known that if I had colored hair). However I land on jackpot with "Does sunscreen discolor blonde hair". The answer is YES. Normal sunscreen discolors colored hair. Yes there are ways to continue to use sunscreen without discoloring hair. For example, further google searches shows that common ingredients like Avebenzone and Octocrylene are what cause the discoloration and mineral sunscreens do not.
  6. I search Amazon for "sunscreen for people with blonde hair", "sunscreen for people with colored hair", "sunscreen for blonde hair", and many other iterations. What I find is that there are sunscreen that you can specifically apply to colored hair to protect it, but there is no SKIN sunscreen that is advertised as being color safe. So when someone applies their generic face sunscreen, it can fade their bangs, eyebrows, mustache, etc...
  7. Bingo. This is an issue that affects a large group of people, so its scaling potential is huge. Even better, it has no direct competitors. This may seem like a home run, but I wouldn't get ahead of myself. Just because this is a common and unique problem that can be solved, doesn't mean people will actually search for or care for you to solve it.
That's it folks. Thats the idea part of the process. Next is the testing phase.
This is a goldmine for any Amazon Seller. Definitely going to use these steps as I venture into fixing problem with non-saturated markets.
 

NeoDialectic

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OK guys, I thought the testing framework was going to be the next step, but as I sat down to write it I realized there is another in between step. Never fear, I should have the juicy testing framework that many have been waiting for written and posted by sometime next week.

The Preliminary Research Framework:

So now that you have a unique issue that needs solving, it is time to move on to the next step. Here are the first questions I ask myself when starting this part. Some of the steps blend together and feed into each other.
  1. What is the actual issue that I am solving or value that I am providing?
    • We like to call this The Rub . It's your angle. It's why people are buying your product or service. This is a crucial thing to nail down as it will be your guiding light. You need to know what is setting you apart from the other guys. It could be the product itself, where you are marketing the product, how you are marketing it, or some combination of them all.
  2. Is this issue solvable?
    • This should be self explanatory. You now have to do the preliminary research to see if it is possible to solve this issue. There are SO MANY resources out there these days that make this possible. My favorite ways of doing this is starting by googling the issue and reading as much as I can about it. Articles are a good start. Forums are great resources as well. See how everyday people are solving this issue. The hive mind sometimes knows things before the experts. Speaking of experts, see what experts are saying about it by going to scholar.google.com. Read the papers on the topic. If you have access to a college/university login, alot of times you get free access to databases of research that may otherwise be paid to view. The point here is not necessarily to become an expert. It is to figure out if there are any realistic solutions to the issue and maybe even what other value to your customers you can provide with your product.
  3. How much expertise, resources, and dedication would it take to solve it?
    • After doing the preliminary research in the last step, you should have a general feel for what the problem is and the roadblocks in solving it. Think about what it would take to solve the issue.
  4. Can I physically do what is necessary and do I want to do it?
    • These questions kind of blend together, but they are both very important. Is this realistically possible for you to do? Do you want to make the sacrifices that it takes to do it? As someone that is already successful, I am much more particular with the sacrifices I am willing to make. As an aspiring entrepreneur, you should be willing to do ALOT more to succeed.
The answers to these questions should help you decide whether you should move on to the next step. There are always trade offs involved. The harder the issue is to solve, the easier time you will have protecting your market share. The easier it is to solve, the faster you will have competitors at your doorstep. There are unlimited things to solve, so if you are a beginning entrepreneur, I suggest going with less challenging solves that you can come up with good ways of testing.

The Preliminary Research Example
  1. What is the actual issue that I am solving or value that I am providing?
    • This is an easy one for my example. My product will address the special needs of people with colored and blonde hair. The issue that I am solving is that sunscreen discolors blonde and colored hair.
  2. Is this issue solvable?
  3. How much expertise, resources, and dedication would it take to solve it?
    • Sunscreens that do not have Avebenzone, Butyl Methoxydibenzoylmethane, and Octocrylene are the solution. These already exist out there so it would take minimal work to get this idea off the ground. I don't even have to move onto the next steps or other research techniques because of how simple the answer was.
  4. Can I physically do what is necessary and do I want to do it?
    • Another easy one! Googling "how to produce a sunscreen" produces a ton of examples how to make sunscreen. Everything from homemade solutions to contract manufacturers that will make one for you.
So far, this is the ideal result for a beginning entrepreneur. There is an issue, there are people talking about the issue, there seems to be easy solutions to the issue, and there are no products directly marketed as a solution to the issue. Your own example may not line up as perfectly and that may be ok! You may still be able to figure it out and produce a very strong product that sells like hotcakes.

Testing is next!
 

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