Every invention begins with a simple idea – a twist or reformulation of an existing product.

What are some good ways to acquire or find ideas for new inventions? Here are three approaches I use to get the creative juices flowing for new ideas:

• Make a list – of things in daily life that are annoying or don’t work very well
• Read widely – from a panoply of varied sources that have little in common
• Develop your curiosity – look at things around you and ask why/why not?

For years consumers struggled with clunky, heavy vacuum cleaners that were hard to maneuver into small or oddly shaped spaces (annoying aspects). Re-examination of these annoying limitations yielded light weight vacuums (by Oreck) and highly-maneuverable ones (by Dyson) transforming the industry.

I am an avid reader of magazines including Aviation Week & Space Technology, National Geographic, Smithsonian, The Economist, and BusinessWeek among others. I find interesting ideas pop into my head from a combination everything I read, a sort of cross-pollination of varied sources. Give it a try!

Tomima Edmark in 1991 wondered why there wasn’t an easy way to make fashionable pony tails in a flash. This led her to invent the Topsy Tail® which went on to sell over $100 million on DRTV and in retail stores. Her natural curiosity and questioning created a whole new genre within women’s fashion.

By exercising your brain in creative ways as described above, it should be easy to generate more ideas than you could ever develop into inventions.

Below is a sample list of a mishmash of ideas we will use for examples in the next blog in the series: B – Benefit Analysis of Your Ideas:

1. Special car cover that protects cars from damage from hail stones
2. A device for fluffing tails of poodles in dog shows
3. A cork replacement that maintains optimum pressure and humidity for wines
4. A device that allows a gasoline engine to run off ordinary tap water
5. A solar powered air conditioner unit

Stay tuned and thanks for your attention!