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New and Improved

Products that make life easier are all the rage. Your next big business idea may be making a good, everyday item great.

This story appears in the May 2005 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

You've seen them all over. You may even use one or two of them during your average day. They're convenience products--those nifty little inventions that make typical tasks just a bit easier. Think cups with spill-proof tops or organizers that keep your car tidy. Not only do you use convenience products all the time, but you've also probably come up with a few ideas of your own--the kind that start with, "Hmm . . . somebody should invent a . . . ."

But it's still a difficult market to crack, says Dave Sutton, CEO and president of Inforte, a Chicago-based strategic consulting firm that does marketing analytics and business intelligence work. "There are a lot of missteps with this [kind of product]," he says. "Mainly because people oversimplify what the need might be . . . and the new device doesn't do anything substantively different than the old type of thing."

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