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I Needed That

Looking for an innovative product customers will buy? Think of what you need in your work or hobby.

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This story appears in the May 2002 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

Where is the next million-dollar idea hiding, just waiting to be discovered? In many cases, it could be right under your nose--at your place of work, or perhaps as part of your favorite hobby. Inventors who work ideas gathered from jobs or activities they're familiar with are most likely to find success, for a variety of reasons: For one thing, the inventor really understands what target customers want because he or she is also part of the group. Second, because the inventor is already familiar with the products currently on the market, he or she can usually introduce a product that doesn't have much competition. And finally, when selling the product to customers, potential buyers perceive the inventor not as a salesperson, but rather as "one of us." It's a powerful situation that doesn't necessarily guarantee success, but it's definitely as good as it gets.

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