How to come up with new product ideas

Does starting your own business (or side business) appeal to you?  Selling your own products (especially online) can be a great way to make money. (I have 10 reasons why it’s great, right here!)  Perhaps you’d like to create and sell your own product – but you’re not yet sure on what that product might be.  

Maybe you have a business already and would like to add an additional income stream that doesn’t require you to trade time for money.

If you’re stuck for inspiration, no problem!  Here are 6 simple ways to help you find brilliant new product ideas.

Think about the things you already use and how you could improve them

You’ve probably had the experience of buying, or using something and just knowing it could be better than it is.

Perhaps there’s a really obvious problem, just a tiny little fix needed to make it perfect. You could be the person do that!

A very simple example of this is my Tiny Chipmunk bamboo hooded towels.  They were my second product and I created them because I was fed up of buying baby towels that only lasted a few months at best.

It was such a simple solution, but people tell me all the time how long they’ve lasted and I love that!  It was entire point! Not only that, but it gives me a selling feature, or USP. If someone asks why buy my towel over another, I can give good reasons.

Another real-life example is that my youngest will only sleep if the room’s pitch black.  We had a black-out blind on her window that attached with suckers, but it took so long to get it on and off that we ended up keeping it on permanently and having the room in constant darkness…

I was busy Googling for solutions to this and realised that some (very clever!) companies sell black-out blinds that attach via velcro pads you stick to the window frames, rather than suckers that stick to the glass,

Such a simple solution, and a tiny modification, but it’s made a huge difference to us and, I imagine, thousands of other people too.

Think about where you could do the same…

TIP: Next time you’re getting frustrated with an item you’re using, take a minute to write down the problem and potential solutions.  That’s an idea, right there!

What would compliment what you do already?

Let’s say you already run a business.  What products could you add on to your existing services?

For example, you’re a yoga teacher and everyone loves the cushions you use for meditation – so you sell those. Or you’re a coach and you decide to sell a planner.  Perhaps you’re a personal trainer and you sell some small pieces of equipment clients can use at home for stretching.  There doesn’t necessarily need to be a strong link (if at all), but think about your customers (who you should know well) and what you could offer that would help them.

Another brilliant example of this is a local food blogger who started to sell hampers of local produce.

There are so many opportunities here to create an additional income stream and give more value to your existing customers.

TIP: Brainstorm all the things you could sell, that tie in to your existing services. Don’t worry about whether they exist or not for now (see below!) Just have some fun thinking about all the things your customers would love to buy from you.

What do you wish existed?

Do you ever think, “If I only I had an XYZ?”  Some of what we wish for may not be feasible, for many reasons, but some ideas definitely will be!

Last year I worked with Silke Thistlewood, Nourish To Thrive, who created Care Cards for New Mums – a product she wished she’d had when her children were tiny.  She already shared tips and tool to enable Mums to care for themselves in her free Facebook community.  Creating the cards enables Mums to have something tangible to hand (they make great new-Mum gifts!), plus created an additional income stream for Silke.  

Another example is an inspiring podcast interview I heard recently with Nicole DeBoom.  She’s a female athlete who created Skirt Sports – a women’s athletic apparel brand that combined all the things she wanted that didn’t exist – performance, comfort and cute-factor.

I’ve worked with clients who’ve created all kinds of unique products, because they’d love it and nobody else has made it yet!  This is a good enough reason! Chances are, if you’d love it, then others would too.

So why wait, when you create it yourself?!

TIP: Next time you think “I wish I had an…” write it down!  And keep it – that note could be the start of something very special…

What’s a problem you have?  (Or someone else has.) How could it be solved?

I remember, a few years back, it was our first winter in our new home and our bedroom didn’t get any natural light until quite late in the morning. I was so used to being woken by the sunlight creeping round the curtains that I found it hard to adjust to the (relatively) dark mornings.

I looked online for a solution and came across a light alarm clock (that wakes you up by simulating a sunrise).  This is by no means new (yet it was to me!), yet it solved a problem I was having and I was delighted.

I just love it when you find a product that you love.  One that solves a problem you’ve had for ages. You know that bittersweet feeling you get when you just wish you’d found it sooner?  The blackout blind example I gave above also falls into this category.

Next time you’re looking for that special thing, that solves a very specific problem, if you can’t find it, why not create it yourself?

TIP: Take a look at what phrases you’re looking for when you search for a product or solution you need and see if you can formulate that into a draft product specification.

What do you love? What are you passionate about?

Another way to approach this is to think about what you’d love to sell. 

Maybe you’re a keen runner, a hiker, or you love to knit.  Whatever your passion is, could you sell items related to that?

The benefits here are that if you truly feel passionate about the products and the niche into which they fit, you’ll be able to talk about them, and sell them, in a really natural way.

Plus, if this is based on a hobby you have, you may well know others who enjoy the same things, who would make the ideal first customers.

One word of caution here is that you’ll need to do your research to ensure that the market isn’t already too saturated and that you can make a profit.

You can always combine this idea with those above and put your own spin on an existing product.

How could you take a product you already love and make it even better?

TIP: Think about something you’d love to sell.  Write down all the things you could sell, where you could sell them and who to.  Get really excited and creative and see where it leads you!

What do people other people love to buy?

The final way you can think up new product ideas (and my least favourite, if I’m honest) is to look at products that are already selling well and sell those – ideally with your own take on them.

There are various ways you can do this. Checking out the Amazon Best Sellers list is a good place to get started.

You also may have an idea what the ‘hot products’ are, based on current trends.  (Think fidget spinners a few years ago!) If you take one of these products and improve it somehow, you could do very well – at least in the short-term.

The reason I don’t recommend my clients take this path is I feel it’s a great short-term option, but may not lead to you being able to build a brand and a business (my ultimate goal). 

However, if your goal is to make some money and learn some new skills while doing so, it could be a great option for you.

Now you have that great idea, be sure to check it’ll make you money!

7 free ways to verify your product idea