I have so many ideas, how do I pick the best one?

Do you ever wonder that? I bet you do.

The answers are many:

  1. I just go with my gut.
  2. I work on one for a while and, when it seems to be going nowhere, then I switch to another. 
  3. I pick the one that seems to be most interesting and put all my energy and money behind it.
  4. Why pick an idea? I work on several ideas at a time, hoping one of them will work out.

Pachinko Inventing

Have you ever played pachinko? It is a game that is quite the craze in Japan. Pachinko is a bit like an American pinball machine – a series of steel balls are shot into the top of the machine, the balls fall and randomly strike a variety of metal pins and objects until they arrive at one of several slots at the bottom.

If you select your ‘best' invention from any of the 4 choices described above – you are a pachinko inventor. You aren't proactively or logically choosing which idea to pursue. Rather you are subjecting the success of your venture to purely random chance or whims, you neither control nor influence the outcome.

Don't be a pachinko inventor.

How should you select your best idea? By vigorously culling ideas until only one is still standing.

Start with an ideal vision of the ‘perfect' invention:

  1. It would appeal to everyone: men, women, and children – not a niche product
  2. It would solve an annoying problem that frustrates millions of people every day
  3. It would have a WOW factor that would intrigue consumers, making them want to buy
  4. Its retail price would be affordable to everyone: $25 or less
  5. Gets used up and must be repurchased multiple times
  6. Sells year round, not seasonal
  7. It has a 5X mark up from manufacture cost to retail price

Of course, no product meets all 7 criteria simultaneously. But this is a good filter for culling your invention ideas.

Of the above points, 7 is probably the most important – without sufficient profit at every phase of the selling process, no product can ever succeed.

Now look at your invention ideas and rigorously cull them. A $40 niche product – out! A seasonal product that appeals only to children – out! A $20 retail product that appeals to many consumers, has a WOW factor and solves an annoying problem … could be a winner.

Once you have eliminated almost all your ideas, pick what seems to be the best finalist based upon the 7 point criteria.

Stay tuned.