Everything starts with an idea.  It could be about improving an existing product or developing something entirely new.  Typically it will be an answer to a problem, large or small.  A way to make something simpler, faster, more attractive, more efficient, more cost effective, in short, an improvement over anything that’s currently available. In each case, your initial idea was just a starting point.  From here you will need to pursue the concept wherever it goes.  Try to keep an open mind.  Not just to unexpected directions in which the idea may lead, but also to the possibility that the concept may turn out to be a dead end. Even if you eventually abandon the idea, the process of pursuing it will likely teach you things that will be useful at some future time. Thinking in this way costs you nothing.  In fact I believe that it exercises and strengthens the parts of the mind that deal with creativity and problem solving.  The more we use these skills, the better.

Write It Down:  Whether the idea comes to you in a flash of inspiration, a dream or just a gradual understanding, it’s important not to lose it. We are often so busy that even great ideas can be lost in the everyday flow of life as quickly as they came.  

So it’s vital that when inspiration strikes, you capture the essence of it.  Then sign and date it.  As you flesh out the idea over time, continue the process. Your dated notes will form a record of when you had the original inspiration and will help trace its progress. I keep notes in various ways. One of my favorites is a Moleskine® notebook with plain, unruled pages. The benefit of of a notebook is that all your thoughts on a subject will be in one place and in chronological order. 

No Time Like the Present:  Perhaps you’ve had the experience of thinking of an idea for something that you later saw in a magazine or online.  It can come as a shock.  Why was it not you who made the thing happen?  The reality is that inventions tend to be timely.  By this I mean that if the idea is worthwhile, it’s likely that it meets a need or would be attractive to people at this moment in time.  So the odds are that its value will eventually be recognized, possibly by several people.  In fact, simultaneous invention is not unusual.  So, if you have a flash of inspiration, it’s best to act on it as soon possible.  Otherwise someone else may beat you to it.