5 Challenges for Innovators


There are dozens of challenges that innovators must overcome, but here are my top 5 and what to do about them to get your product to market.

I hope this provides a handy checklist for evaluating the risks for your innovation project, where the real tough spots are in making innovations happen and how to mitigate them.

  1. It’s about the PROBLEM not the IDEA.

    It’s a pretty fundamental one, but innovation, first, is about finding and really understanding the problem then, and only then is it about the idea.

    I see this all the time – we fall in love with an idea then try and find the problem that it fixes.

    Sorry, it never turns out well.

  2. Then it’s about the idea. You have to find an idea. Historically this is easy, ideas are everywhere and anyone who can consider a problem for an hour can come up with possible ideas for solving it. Creativity isn’t hard either- you just need some time to get your thoughts together!

    You’ve got about 60 seconds before my boss walks in the door? Do we want her thinking that she’s surrounded by slackers or do YOU want her asking what new projects our team has been coming up with?! If so then start brainstorming now.

1. It's about the PROBLEM not the IDEA
  1. It’s a pretty fundamental one, but innovation, first, is about finding and really understanding the problem then, and only then is it about the idea.

    I see this all the time – we fall in love with an idea then try and find the problem that it fixes.

    Sorry, it never turns out well.

2. Finding and Validating THE Idea

Ideas are everywhere and anyone with a problem for an hour can come up with some possible solutions, creativity isn’t the hardest part.

3. Developing a solution.

The gap between an idea and a working prototype is HUGE.

So what if you think something can be done, go and do it. Until you can show the manifestation of the idea, it’s still just an idea. But don’t worry- I’ve got your back with these ten tips to help make sure that doesn’t happen:

4. Keeping the focus through uncertainty

The uncertainty of innovation makes it difficult to sustain your efforts. Staying motivated on a project when there’s no guarantee it will ever succeed – especially when there are other commitments on your time can be very hard.

Of course, failing to maintain your focus is never a good outcome!

The key here is to be focussed on the process, not the outcome. I always recommend creating an Innovation Manifesto – a short document that describes the project in a nutshell.

5. focussing on way-Points, not the finish

There’s a very difficult balance to strike between ‘shipping’ the product – finishing the project and moving on and being agile enough to

What I see a lot is that the ‘boss’ wants to see the project finished regardless of whether the original scope has been achieved.

Watch this AI write copy


Watch this AI (artificial intelligence) write a blog right in front of your eyes. It’s absolutely staggering.

The tool in question is called Jarvis from Conversion.AI. I’ve been playing with it for a few weeks now and I’m still in that……”how the eff does it do that” phase.

You can try it out for yourself, here’s a link to a 5 day free trial (although you do have to put your credit card in first).

I’d love to know what you think.

9 Angel Websites to Find Investors for Your Startup


If your idea needs funding, the best place to start is an Angel investor. 

They’re generally individuals who have the ability to provide startups with significant amounts of capital, usually in exchange for some equity in the company.

Unlike venture capitalists, angels don’t often require management or board seats on their investments which means that they can be more hands off and let founders have full control over their companies without any interference from those pesky VCs!

Angel investment is also often called seed investment. It’s designed to grow your idea to either build version 1 of your idea so you can gain revenue, or more typically to get a 1st round of funding. The Angel can then either take their money out plus a profit or stay with your startup.

But how do you find an Angel investor? Here’s some websites that will hopefully make it easier and faster for you go out and nab some of these elusive, yet much needed, funds. But don’t exclude existing networks (it’s ALL about the network!) either locally or on LinkedIn.
As well as using a network to reach out to the Angel, I highly recommend that you research them and try and find, and make a personal introduction to those that seem to match your vision and marketplace before you request funding from one or more of them. Doing your research now will increase your chances of obtaining the funding that you need to grow your startup.
It’s a time for the sniper rifle, not the shotgun!

Try these sites first

Angel List: the world’s largest startup community and marketplace for start-ups

Producthunt.com. A community for start-ups

Angel Investors Network

Seed Invest

Then register on LinkedIn Groups

How To Play The Crazy 8s Ideation Game


Crazy 8s got their name because;
– the tool aims to get 8 ideas from each person in a workshop, and
– in 5 minutes….yep, that’s why it’s crazy.

But honestly it’s genius because it;
– stops people from FILTERING their ideas. We all do it. We come up with an idea and almost immediately tell ourselves it won’t work. Read this article for more on this, and
– it forces us to ITERATE on our ideas. Iteration is key to ideation. Whatever device you’re reading this article on, you know it’s version x thousands of the original idea, don’t you

Essential to the game is a clear idea of the ‘problem you’re trying to solve” – the challenge. 

The challenge I use to teach people how to use the tool (the beauty of Crazy 8s is that it takes 5 minutes!) is “How do we incentivise people to leave the car at home and use low-carbon transport to get to and from work”. 

And here’s the slides in GDrive

I’d love to know how you get on!

21 Predictions for 2021


Salt. A lesson in Innovation through Differentiation


Salt is salt, right? It’s possibly the oldest commodity on earth and surely, it’s one of the most abundant minerals. Can we really differentiate such a simple product?

In a previous post I suggested that far from ‘needing’ a brand spanking new idea for a ‘thing’ or service, you actually only need an idea for something that already exists out there in the marketplace, but innovate to make it faster, better, cheaper.

There’s no better example of how we can differentiate a simple product by adding value than salt.

Yep, common old salt. If you thought salt is salt, nothing is further from the truth. Check out the cost per kg from this infographic. You can buy salt from 39p per kg or….nearly £50!

Incredible, isn’t it.

So, if you could start a business, how would you be the £50/kg offer? How do you add that much value to the user experience that people forget that it’s ‘only bloody salt’.

Of course, that’s the role of innovators: to find new, seemingly irresistible value from the mundane.

Choose a product or service — anything as replay the salt infographic;
– can you create value from the (hint of) providence (like the ‘spice cellar sea salt)
– can you make it better / less bad (like the reduced sodium salt)
– can we make it seem much better value / more convenient (like the large Cornish sea salt)
– can we borrow someone else’s value (like the Nandos salt)
– can we change the UX (like the grinder salt)

You don’t NEED a shiny new idea to start a business


I’ve heard this so many times, “I’d love to start a business, but I can never think of the idea of what I would do”.

You may have thought exactly that?

It IS a myth that you need something new. It’s born (quite understandable) of an anxiety that, “well, if there’s already someone doing this, how will I manage to break into it?”

Shock horror: Apple are (rightly) seen as one of the most innovative companies ever, but they certainly didn’t invent the touchscreen smartphone.

Google didn’t invent the search engine.

Amazon weren’t the first people to sell books online.

….I really could go on and on.

Of course, there’s loads of examples of ‘firsts’ that made it big…but they really are unicorns (very rare…that’s why they’re known as unicorns).

Recycling of ideas has happened since the beginning of time and always will: the Harry Potter books are the highest grossing book series. Harry was an orphan with special powers. Luke Skywalker…an orphan with special powers…you can go back centuries to find stories about orphans with special powers – to the Bible and beyond- Moses was (you guessed it) an orphan with special powers.

So, you ABSOLUTELY DON’T need a brand new idea. Indeed, the idea doesn’t need to be the ‘thing’ or service. The idea can be the way you’ll EXECUTE ‘it’ that adds more value than your competitors!

You could literally take a Yellow Pages or any business directory (if you still have one), fan through the pages, pick a business and figure out how to make it better, cheaper, faster.

I’ll go one step further, while a brand new product or service won’t have any competitors, it has no customers! A marketplace with no customers is a lonely place. Now, it might be because, genuinely, it’s a brand new idea and it solves a problem everyone has that no-one has ever spotted before…..but I wouldn’t bet on it. Not in 2020.

So, now we’ve got that out of the way, over the course of the next 2 weeks, if you sign-up for the free coaching experience, I’ll walk you through how to find the brilliant idea that will change your life.

It is totally free. It will be totally amazing.

And there will be lots of opportunity to talk with me and get all your questions answered!

Book some time with me now.

I’m waiting for you on the other side.

2 Lessons from a Cancer Survivor


I had the absolute privilege to spend about an hour chatting with someone who has spent the last five months fighting and winning a battle against (what was originally a terminal) cancer diagnosis.


1. Pain. Humans can endure more emotional and physical pain than you can imagine. If you’re holding back doing something because you think it will be too hard, have a word with yourself

2. Time. The difference for this chap a month before and just after his diagnosis wasn’t that he was going to die – we’re all going to die, it was that a Doctor gave him an approximate end date which was way, way, way before he was ready. If you want to change / stop / start something, don’t wait until after Christmas / covid / we’ve lost a stone / the kids have left home / the mortgage is paid / retirement. Don’t wait. Crack on.

The war isn’t quite over for him, there’s another battle to fight starting just after Christmas. Fight on Michael.

Quirky.com is back!

Quirky.com was launched in 2009 with a mission to make invention accessible to everyone. You could share your ideas with a community of over a million people and get involved in bringing the best ideas to market. They started hundreds of thousands of idea projects through the community, launched hundreds of products and paid over $10m in payments to the Community. BUT, they were working their way through $80m of Venture Capitol funding at a terrific rate

They also launched Partnerships with the likes of GE which also gave them a cash injection of $30m . To me, they were pioneers in Crowd-based innovation Management but when they closed their doors in 2015 it was a huge shame. 

BUT, they’re back. They’ve re-invented themselves

Essentially, Quirky has decided to partner with open-innovation friendly companies that have the capacity to get to market and thrive there – essentially licensing as a business model. 

Quirky will apparently take anywhere from a 5 percent to 10 percent cut when an invention is being sold directly to consumers and the inventor will earn a 3 percent royalty. When a third-party retailer sells the product, the inventor will earn 1.5 percent. This information is clearly stated on the company’s FAQ page.

While 1.5-3% doesn’t sound much, the inventors don’t need to spend a dollar, ever, to start making money off of their inventions.