If you ask an entrepreneur for advice on getting business ideas, they might say, “find what irritates you and fix it.” And while that’s not terrible advice, it does lead to terrible ideas.
This advice is misguided because a lack of ideas isn’t the problem, the lack of ideas is a symptom. The problem is not having a solid foundation from which good ideas come.
It’s Raining Bad Ideas
Enough people are attempting to fix their irritation with rain that the US Patent Office has four full-time staffers evaluating umbrella patents.
Totes Isotoner, which is the largest umbrella company in the country, stopped accepting unsolicited proposals several years ago. One of the problems, according to Ann Headley, the director of rain-product development for Totes, is that umbrellas are so ordinary that everyone thinks about them, and, because they’re relatively simple, you don’t need an advanced degree to imagine a way to redesign them, but it’s difficult to come up with an umbrella idea that hasn’t already been done.
It’s a safe assumption that next to none of these ideas will recoup the $10,000 they spent on a patent application. And it was all in the name of “find what irritates you and fix it.”