Brain Teasers

It can be tough to brainstorm in a vacuum. Answering these questions may help you come up with a blockbuster business idea

• Is there a recent technology innovation that's being used in one market but could be applied elsewhere?

• Do you have a hobby that might be adapted to emerging technologies or trends?

• What annoys or frustrates you?

• What trade-offs do you make when selecting a product or service? Do you accept lower-quality items in return for lower prices, for example? If so, is there a way to deliver both high quality and lower prices?

• Is there a commodity product you could make into a premium offering? (Think Starbucks.)

• Is there a premium product that can be transformed into a less expensive offering that might have mass-market appeal?

• What trends are gaining momentum, and which might you capitalize on? Think about the aging of the baby boomers, the growth in the Spanish-speaking population in the U.S., or the rise of all things green. What business opportunities do these trends offer?

• Do you see inefficiencies in a part of the business process you know well? Is there a better way to woo customers, deliver goods, or collect payments, for example?

Data: Innovation Tournaments by Christian Terwiesch and Karl T. Ulrich, BusinessWeek

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