So since this is a post about having ideas – how would you illustrate it? Oh yes, yawn, the corny old lightbulb image. The brilliant idea that fires up your mind like a light being turned on. The original lightbulb was created – as you probably know – by Thomas Edison. He patented his electric light bulb in 1880. But behind him were at least 3000, maybe even 10,000, failed attempts. Even he didn’t know exactly how many filaments he had tried.
Thomas Edison had hundreds of innovative ideas. How many do you have?
Does Your Idea Have a Point?
What is the key takeaway from those famous stories of Thomas Edison? There are two.
The first is the obvious one: never give up. Imagine trying something for the 3000th time and seeing it fail. Most of us would have given up at iteration three, not three thousand. But to him, it was progress since now he knew 3000 ways not to do it. That is a positive mindset. As the American baseball coach Babe Ruth remarked:
‘It’s hard to beat a person who never gives up.’
But the second lesson is maybe more important. Thomas Edison was not trying to create some interesting little thing for his own amusement. In the world he lived in, you had to work by the light of the fireplace, the candle, or the oil lamp once it got dark. Imagine how limiting that was.
Next time you’re in a house and there is a power cut, imagine if that was how it was all the time. Thomas Edison changed the way we live.
See It, Fix It
Think of some of the young entrepreneurs you might have heard of. Forget the fame and money, what did they get that for? What problem did they solve? Let’s take a quick look:
Started Fanbytes because big companies, including the UK government, were struggling to engage with GenZ. His company bridged the gap between GenZ and companies like Nike, allowing them to connect better.
Founded Eartheia because she saw that vegans didn’t have much of a stylish choice in vegan clothing. Extended it to beauty and fashion as Unearthed.co. Her company helps fill that gap.
It’s sometimes difficult for dyslexics to read and process written information. Gary’s company, Brainbook, developed its Toolbox to help dyslexics better communicate.
So what is your idea? It doesn’t need to be life-changing, but it does have to share one quality with the electric lightbulb. It has to fix a problem. If you have an idea that you think is cool, neat, really fun – that’s usually not a good idea.
An idea that isn’t glamorous or sparkly, but which fixes a problem for some people – that’s usually a good idea. Here’s an example. Plastic turkey wishbones. Yes, you read that right.
Ken Ahroni noticed that for Thanksgiving in the USA people would squabble over who got to pull the wishbone. The winner with the bigger part is meant to get good luck, but there is only one wishbone and usually lots of guests. Like turkey at a British Christmas Day lunch.
Ken saw a gap. Believe it or not The Lucky Break Wishbone Company now makes plastic wishbones – so vegans and vegetarians can get in on the act too. The company sells a lot of wishbones. ‘In the high six figures’ is what the company admits to. Hundreds and hundreds of thousands of them at about a dollar a time.
See the gap, fill the gap, no matter how unglamorous it might be.
So what gap are you filling? What problem are you solving? Let us know!