One way to grow your business and increase your profits is to think of new product ideas for your small business. You can offer something totally new, create derivative products from your existing ones, or branch out into something totally different.
But where do you find new product ideas?
According to the article How to Find Ideas to Improve Your Home Business, there are a number of ways you can get inspiration and ideas for your business. You can reach out and get feedback from customers, seek out like-minded entrepreneurs, check out competitors and keep yourself updated by learning and reading.
Another way to find new ideas for your business is to attend industry events, trade shows, conventions, exhibitions, art shows and the like — both in and out of your industry. These events are fertile grounds for generating fresh ideas and allow you to see new products, new concepts and upcoming trends that you can build into your business. You can even get ideas from seeing what your competitors are doing!
Take for example the wholesaler Wuu Jau Company http://www.wuujau.com/, a family business based in Oklahama founded by Ben and Margaret Lu. Started in 1984, the company offers various collector and cutlery items such as swords, daggers, crossbows, pocketknives and throwing knives. One important strategy that Wuu Jau used to grow their business is by constantly rethinking their product offerings to keep ahead of their competitors and respond to what their clients want. Ideas for their new products come from various sources, from listening to their customers’ feedback to seeing what’s out there through trade shows.
One of the best-selling products of Wuu Jau is gift box knives. Margaret Lu got the idea for the product after going to an art show and seeing little artworks placed in a gift box. She rightly thought that the idea will translate well to her own business, and this led her to adding a product line of gift box knives or collectibles.
The company also introduced samurai swords as a result of a visit to a trade show. In an interview with Wholesale Magazine, Michael Lu (the son and currently Vice President of Wuu Jau) explained how attending a trade show gave their dad the idea of offering samurai swords.
“In the late ‘80s, my dad went to a trade show, and at that time, importing from China was just starting. With cutlery like samurai swords, most of them were handmade and really high quality stuff from Japan, and my dad noticed that people really liked them, but the prices were near $1,000 each. So he thought if we imported something like this from China, and it doesn’t have to be as functional, it could be more affordable for the average person who just wants to collect and put it in a display or case. At the time, there wasn’t anybody importing three-piece samurai sword sets, and a couple of the Japanese sword makers were furious, because we were selling it for maybe ten percent of their prices.”
Wuu Jau also gets their product ideas from what the customers say, and how they perceive the products they offer, and what customers are looking for.
The company updated its Live Action Role Playing line, which are swords and axes used by fantasy fans, after analyzing the products being returned, and what condition these products are in when customers return them. They saw an opportunity to improve their products so it would better serve the needs of their target market.
“We’ve been carrying foam weapons for a while, but because people want to fight with them, we were getting returns with the weapons all busted up … We went to China to see if we could come up with a new material to make merchandise that was more durable and lightweight, and we’ve come up with this new material … so it holds up better.”
Opportunities to improve the performance of your business and increase your bottomline are everywhere — you just have to look for them!
Recommended Books on New Product Ideas:
- Winning at New Products: Creating Value Through Innovation
- New Ideas About New Ideas: Insights On Creativity From The World’s Leading Innovators
- New Ideas from Dead CEOs: Lasting Lessons from the Corner Office
- Will It Fly? How to Know if Your New Business Idea Has Wings…Before You Take the Leap