So, you’ve heard the old story many times before, but it bears repeating: Thomas Edison had the idea to create a light bulb, yet it took him 1,000 tries to create a workable light bulb. That’s 999 bad ideas before he found the right one! In order to start your own business, you first need an idea of what your business will be. But how do you know if your idea is a good one?
The world is full of bad ideas and bad products. But even the ones that never made it to production can teach a lesson. Take for instance the idea to create flying tanks in the early 20th Century. It probably looked good on paper. Transporting tanks to the frontlines of the war was difficult, so why not strap wings on them and fly them there? Thankfully someone realized how bad that idea was and instead designed larger planes to transport these tanks. This very bad idea actually turned out to be very important because these larger planes became the starting point for the modern cargo and jet planes we rely on so much today.
Another bad idea that never saw the light of day was the portable record player. We all know the personal music player industry is very important today, but back in the late ’70s/early ’80s it was just beginning. The record player was at the height of its popularity. Yet a personal record player was awkward and cumbersome. It was also introduced to the market right at the same time as the cassette player and Walkman. These devices were much more user friendly and less awkward, so soon the personal record player was a just another failed idea. But a lesson can still be learned: Pay attention to the market and know the emerging trends.
And sometimes your idea is okay – but you discover as you develop it that it does not give you the satisfaction you expected. Don’t just let it go! That idea can be a stepping stone to the one that really does fulfill your dreams. If you find yourself in a “soul-crushing business,” consider what it would take to get you into a business that you are “passionate about” and “happy about.”
Those bad ideas are just like the first 999 light bulbs that Thomas Edison designed. They are stepping stones to finding the right idea that fills a need. As you design your own business ideas, don’t be afraid to have a bad idea. Instead look at your bad ideas and think of the lessons that can be learned. Apply those lessons to your next idea and soon you will find the right one!