Are you looking for new product ideas for your business? Have you asked your customers?
First rule of product ideas: The people in field doing the work always come up with the best ideas.
Lisle Corporation (Clarinda, Iowa, population 5,500) makes, among other things, automotive specialty tools. You know, the funny hand tools mechanics use for all sorts of little jobs. The kind of thing nobody makes a tool for, so mechanics modify their own tool or they make something themselves. Things like brake spring pliers, battery terminal clamp spreaders, or magnets on long telescoping handles to retrieve those bolts that always seem to mysteriously fall into unreachable locations.
Where do they get their ideas? They are always asking their customers. This photo is from the back of one of their product packages. Bonus points to Lisle for showing off a successful mechanic who sent them a tool idea and earned some money for it.
Notice that Lisle talks through the process. By talking about royalties, protecting the mechanic’s idea, and the process to follow, they make it a little less intimidating.
Are you asking your customers for ideas? Do you pay up for the good ideas?
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Becky started Small Biz Survival in 2006 to share rural business and community building stories and ideas with other small town business people. She and her husband have a small cattle ranch and are lifelong entrepreneurs. Becky is an international speaker on small business and rural topics.