Don’t reinvent the wheel

Do you think you have a good idea, but are still not convinced it’s sufficiently unique?

Are you struggling with coming up with that unique idea that will set you apart from everyone else, make everyone realize you’re the closest thing to Leonardo DaVinci the 21st century has seen?

Do you feel like all of your ideas have already been developed and implemented by someone else?

Guess what, you’re probably right. It doesn’t matter.

You don’t have to be original.


There are very few true innovations

What do you think about when you hear the word MP3-player? The iPod?

That wasn’t the first. Audio Highway’s Listen Up was the first mp3 player.

Apple launched the iPod in 2001, 5 years after Audio Highway launched their product.

What did Apple do? They took an already existing technology, refined and redesigned it and launched a new product, which – with just the sufficient level of marketing efforts – has become synonymous with the term “mp3 player”.

And if you think Audio Highway’s product was a completely new product, think again. The mp3 was an existing technology. The portable music player was an existing technology. They just combined the two.

Even the product considered to be the first portable music player – Sony’s Walkman from back in ‘79 – was based on already existing portable audio recording and playing devices.

How does this help you?


See what works and improve it

The vast majority of products and services are based on already existing offerings.

What that means for you is that you don’t need to come up with a product or service that’s unique. You just have to introduce something that’s slightly different than what’s already out there.

What does that mean?

I’m sure you know the expression “don’t reinvent the wheel”. Let’s use that as an example.

Someone some day probably started rolling heavy items on top of round stones. Next someone sliced the stones, made discs of them and connected them with a pole. Then, someone started making the discs of wood, a lighter material, easier to repair should it break. Then the spokes in the wheels came to place, to make them even lighter and more flexible. After that someone put metal on the surface touching the ground to make the wheels more resistant and durable. Etc etc until the wheels we have today – rubber tires and metal for optimal driving comfort.

Every step introduced an improvement, not a completely new product. The wheel exists, so there’s no need to reinvent it. Improve it, on the other hand, and you might just make some money.

If you’re struggling for ideas for what to do, have a look around you. Are there any businesses in your field that are doing well, but you think should be done differently? Do you think you could add anything to the already existing offers? Is there some way you can make your clients’ life easier or better?

Odds are, you can.


Be different

If you wish to be in the food-business, have a look around. Is your market swarming with low cost supermarket chains, but there are nowhere to get the good stuff? Then how about starting a high-end supermarket with exclusive foreign products hard to come by? Or if you live in areas with many small businesses, how about offering to bring fruit and food to the workplaces?

If you have a skill that’s in demand (and the patience for it), teaching is another great idea. If there are schools teaching the guitar to big groups of people, offer personal training sessions to individuals or smaller groups.

What about if your market is dominated by companies and freelancers designing very expensive web sites? Offer low priced web sites based on modules to smaller businesses, or maybe even specialize on something no one else does – say eCommerce or social media (although everyone seems to be doing that these days).

The possibilities are many, but it’s all about being different. Just make sure your “differentness” is actually something people would consider an advantage – and not outweighed by the inevitable drawbacks. If you offer something of a very high value, the price will inevitably be relatively high as well. If you offer low-cost products, the quality will in most cases be lower than a high-end product.


Make yourself unique in your market

The idea doesn’t need to be unique. But you do.

Follow the above and you will be.

And another thing. Uniqueness is relative. You need to be different in your market – not globally (unless that is your market. Then again, you’re most likely not a Coffee Cup Company).

Your market – your world. Your neighbourhood, your town, your state or your country. That’s where you should be unique.

If you saw a great concept on your last vacations – one that doesn’t exist in your market – there’s nothing wrong with copying it and introducing it in your market. Or at least let yourself be inspired and launch an improved version. (Just don’t take any copyrighted material for your own obviously.)

There’s no need to reinvent the wheel.

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