Chapter Two: Generating ideas

So, how exactly are you going to avail of goods which will help to strike up royalty creating deals? Here are some useful suggestions:

  • The products should preferably be manufactured in a foreign country and not available in your own.
  • The goods should augment products found in UK.
  • They must be in keeping with UK safety guidelines.
  • They should work with regular UK equipment (for instance, electrical goods).
  • They should be connected to a field which you are knowledgeable about.

There are a couple of methods to locate actual goods. One way is to start thinking and come up with a list of some products that you have often wanted, but never found. You can rack your own brains and also ask others who may have decent ideas. Once you have thought of a few such products, you go searching for them. The second way is to find some unusual products, and see if anything of the kind is available here.

Now you probably have a better idea why the last suggestion advises you to work with products related to an area which you know about. Else, what appears to be an awesome idea to you may well be ‘old hat’ to the very people you think will go for it.

Utilise your work experience:

There may have been some occasions when you hoped you had a particular product, which could make work a lot simpler.

Are you a salesperson? Maybe you require some items to help manage your brochures better; or perhaps some product that dispenses samples at the flick of a switch.

Do you often find yourself in dim areas? Maybe you could do with a small torch attached to a headgear that could be charged using your car battery.

Do you use your hands a lot? Possibly you have often wished for an added pair of hands, or some product that could accommodate different things while you worked on them.

Does your work involve a lot of driving? Perhaps you need something to help keep the back of your footwear dirt-free, or a product to keep cash to pay for tolls, within reach?

Try to conjure up every amazing device that you’ve seen people utilizing in their line of business – the sonic measuring tape, the wet meter, the lighted screwdriver – all of these are the product of someone’s great imagination.

Look around your house or use your hobby:

Similar to work, there are often times when you may have hoped you had some device to make your housework easier. Take a look at some things that are already available. Do they bring to mind any products which would be indispensable 5 years from now, on which you can get good royalty?

Kitchen gadgets: the fizz-saver for drinks, synthetic ‘bears paws’ for picking up meat, mechanical bread makers etc.

Bathroom products: water-resistant headrests, toothpaste vending device, plaque removers.

Around the drawing room: ‘lava’ lights, sand photos, trays that affix to chair arms, scent disperser.

In your work-area: screwdrivers that can be re-charged, automatic drill chuck.

Garden things: ‘plug’ sectioned seed trays, roll-out pathways, click-fit watering mechanism etc.

Pet products: extendable dog chains, the vacuum brush, a tick collar.

Sporty items: training shoes purse, the golf-tee that self-adapts, low-priced fitness equipment.

Hear what others are saying:

When you speak to others about their work and hobbies, you will repeatedly notice that people impulsively tell others about how they wish they could purchase certain things. If they are aware that you are connected to the import of such items, in all likelihood, people will tell you what they want. And even if they don’t, you should come right out and ask them. People will rarely think that they can source these things on their own.

If you or your friends and family, on trips abroad, have ever happened to come across certain things that people use there, or which are available in foreign shops, then this could be a great area for new ideas. For example, the small metal clasps that outdoor eateries utilise to hold down their table cloths, which could come quite handy at barbecues; the plastic fasteners which clip to dish-cloths and clasp onto a ring; the trendy wicker furniture from Thailand, which could look awesome in conservatories etc. Whatever such products you come across on foreign trips, which are not seen here, would do. In fact, taking a day-trip to France and scouring the hypermarkets for inimitable, unusual products may not be such a bad idea after all!

Study trade journals:

Trade journals are an exceptional supply of information. These may not help you find items to deal in, as the goods in British journals are already available here. How this does help you is by the elimination process, so that you do not end up handling goods that are already available and thus not exclusive. By having knowledge about what is available here, you can better judge where to fit in your unusual goods. It may even inspire you to come up with related products to look for.

For example, in the catering industry, sanitation requirements have resulted in a colour coding system for chopping boards and cutting knives. Chopping boards carry a coloured dot, and the grips of knives are coloured, so that chefs do not use the same knives for raw meat, which are meant for cooked meat on a board which is to be used for dairy products only. Such colour coding could work for which other products? Is it likely that home cooks and commercial chefs would use them if their packing was attractive? Could such colour coding scheme be used for other DIY tools as well?

Apply creative lateral thinking:

If you aren’t finding it easy to come up with fresh ideas from existing ones, attempt the exercise of conjuring up different uses for a common everyday item. The item that is mostly used in this exercise is a brick. Majority of the people can think of various uses, but essential, all these uses are in fact only two – using the brick as a building material (for e.g. making walls, pathways etc), or as a weapon (for e.g. to throw at retailers windows, knock someone’s head with etc).

But those who actually tax their minds, and who think apart from the obvious (lateral thinking), are the ones who really come up with fresh ideas and unique uses such as: brick door stopper, ashtray, holder for matches, match striker, using bricks as steps in a ladder, vehicle jack, ruler, tyre wedge, feet warmer (after a little time in the oven), paperweight, added in the toilet cistern and used as a water saver, stand for cooking dishes, animal hobble (with a rope or cord), stepper for exercising …. can you come up with some more?

Undertake the same exercise with different items and check what you wind up with. Are any of the ideas any good?

Making the effort to work out a deal with a product maker isn’t going to do you any good, if the product is not going to be wanted here. It could get worse if you actually made the effort to locate someone to carry your products, and then realised there were no buyers for it. Neither will that earn you any money, nor any friends.

You thus have to evaluate each product that catches your fancy, with regards to its marketability in UK. Simply because an item enjoys tremendous sales where it is made, does not essentially indicate it will do well here too. Some items that I have mulled over, and rejected, were a collection of bow-ties and cummerbunds in one-of-a-kind designs, and even a device for printing photos on dinner shirts. Although they sell a lot in the US, they don’t in UK. Why is that? Because of the fact that, men’s evening attire market in the UK is quite traditionalist. Perhaps more than 75% of dinner suits are worn to Masonic dinners, where any attire except a black tie and a plain white shirt, is frowned upon.

I have even discarded the idea of a type of computer software for self hypnotising, as I foresaw various kinds of legal problems; and a crossword puzzle book, in which every square had to be scratched to disclose the letters beneath. It appears that people would rather write in using a pen.

Perhaps a sure fire way to evaluate whether or not a certain item will sell here is to go through the initial process of trying to sell it to the wholesale merchants. Here, I’d like to give you a few words of caution: NEVER, UNDER ANY CONDITIONS, DISCLOSE TO THE WHOLESALERS WHERE YOU OBTAINED THE PRODUCT FROM. Don’t mention who the manufacturer is, which country it originates from, how you came by the item, and don’t even mention any other goods that the manufacturer produces.

If you let this information slip, the wholesale merchants can go right to the source and cut you out – which most WILL do. If they enquire where the item is from, tell them you aren’t ready to part with that information till such time that an agreement has been signed. It would even do to imply that you are just about to sign the contract for exclusive rights with the maker.

It’s really a positive indication if they attempt to get this information from you. They wouldn’t try if they didn’t believe the product to be feasible for the UK market. Contact at least 6 different wholesalers in various regions of the country, and check whether all of them have a similar reaction.

If anyone is not excited about the item, ask their opinion about why the item won’t sell, and then evaluate the answers. If all but one say Yes, you must keep an eye out for the one who said No, as he might have said that to discourage you, and may well be planning to do it himself. Do you still remember that first table and unit display maker, who said No to my ornamental plastic food carvings? Well, the thing is, he has recently announced his own line of pre-prepared food carvings. Perhaps I’m suspicious without reason, and he’s simply trying to profit from the market I created. Then again, perhaps I’m not.

Have a plan of action:

  • Prepare a list of the various items that you’ve always wanted but could not locate in the stores.
  • Enquire of your friends what stuff they’ve always sought but could never find.
  • Study as many trade journals you can lay your hands on.
  • Start speaking with wholesalers.

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