Sunday, 22 February 2009

How smart people can 'smell' a million dollar idea

Often, an idea which might not seem of interest to most people can have this special 'smell' for someone with creative skills. There seems to be some sort of instinct at work. However, it is more a sense of judgment developed through experience.

At the early stages of an idea, the point of interest is difference. Something that is different, or perhaps the opposite, of the norm will always arouse interest. However, it's quite another matter whether that interest develops into something practical.

Showing value and benefits is the purpose of any new idea. If an idea suggests large benefits at an early stage, it is always worth hearing and pursuing. However, the benefits have to be made very apparent.

If there are no obvious benefits then it is not a creative idea. You should not develop an idea and hope that the benefits will come along at a later stage.

If an idea seems practical, it is always attractive to people with creative skills. There are many aspects to practicality. The idea has to be practical and feasible from the points of view of mechanics and science. The idea must also be practical when it comes to acceptance; the people who will be implementing the idea have to be behind it.

An idea is often attractive if it is simple. The idea might be simple to introduce or simple to operate, or the simplicity could replace an existing complexity. It is always enticing to smell simplicity in an idea.

There are good ideas which will only work in a particular set of circumstances, or good ideas which will only work for a certain set of people – for instance, people with big plans but not much money.

Not every idea has to work on a universal basis. There are niche ideas which can be very effective. These ideas might be worth implementing. But when it comes to 'smelling an idea', however, niche ideas don't always seem attractive, although ideas can be seen to be valuable if the niche is spelled out very clearly. It shouldn't be left to the listener to work out the niche for which the idea has value.

Ideas that will work even when not fully implemented – robust ideas – are attractive to people with creative skills because they will work even beyond the best circumstances.

Sunday, 15 February 2009

Do you know Math? That's a lottery to win for you

As investment schemes, state lotteries are about as sound as a Bernard Madoff venture.

But at least one lottery might be worth it — if you do the math.

When the jackpot for the match-six-numbers Massachusetts Cash WinFall tops $2 million without a winner, the prize money rolls down to the lower-tier winners, dramatically increasing the value of a win for people who match 2, 3, 4, or 5 numbers.

Mark Muir did the math, and figures that if you buy enough tickets under the roll-down scenario, you’re statistically guaranteed a return on your “investment.” The numbers start to get substantial the more tickets you buy. For example, he figures that when you buy $10,000 worth of tickets under roll-down conditions:

[Y]ou could expect 732 tickets to match 2, 105 to match 3, 6 to match 4, and a 12.8 percent chance to match 5. The expected value in this scenario is $14,280.

If you are observant, you will note that for this payout structure, the ratio of investment to winnings is a constant 42.8 percent return. That is, for every dollar invested, you can expect $1.428 in return over the long term.

Alas, the scheme does come with some risks, which Muir details at his Million Dollar Idea Guy blog.

Tuesday, 10 February 2009

8 Things You Would Expect to Hear from Millionaires

Here is nice story from SmartMoney I've read today. Look at this:

1. "You may think I'm rich, but I don't."

A million dollars may sound like a fortune to most people, and folks with that much cash can't complain — they're richer than 90 percent of U.S. households and earn $366,000 a year, on average, putting them in the top 1 percent of taxpayers. But the club isn't so exclusive anymore. Some 10 million households have a net worth above $1 million, excluding home equity, almost double the number in 2002. Moreover, a recent survey by Fidelity found just 8 percent of millionaires think they're "very" or "extremely" wealthy, while 19 percent don't feel rich at all. "They're worried about health care, retirement and how they'll sustain their lifestyle," says Gail Graham, a wealth-management executive at Fidelity.

Indeed, many millionaires still don't have enough for exclusive luxuries, like membership at an elite golf club, which can top $300,000 a year. While $1 million was a tidy sum three decades ago, you'd need $3.6 million for the same purchasing power today. And half of all millionaires have a net worth of $2.5 million or less, according to research firm TNS. So what does it take to feel truly rich? The magic number is $23 million, according to Fidelity.

2. "I shop at Wal-Mart..."

They may not buy the 99-cent paper towels, but millionaires know what it is to be frugal. About 80 percent say they spend with a middle-class mind-set, according to a 2007 survey of high-net-worth individuals, published by American Express and the Harrison Group. That means buying luxury items on sale, hunting for bargains — even clipping coupons.

Don Crane, a small-business owner in Santa Rosa, Calif., certainly sees the value of everyday saving. "We can afford just about anything," he says, adding that his net worth is over $1 million. But he and his wife both grew up on farms in the Midwest — where nothing was wasted — and his wife clips coupons to this day. In fact, most millionaires come from middle-class households, and roughly 70 percent have been wealthy for less than 15 years, according to the AmEx/Harrison survey. That said, there are plenty of millionaires who never check a price tag. "I've always wanted to live above my means because it inspired me to work harder," says Robert Kiyosaki, author of the 1997 best seller Rich Dad, Poor Dad. An entrepreneur worth millions, Kiyosaki says he doesn't even know what his house would go for today.

3. "...but I didn't get rich by skimping on lattes."

So how do you join the millionaires' club? You could buy stocks or real estate, play the slots in Vegas — or take the most common path: running your own business. That's how half of all millionaires made their money, according to the AmEx/Harrison survey. About a third had a professional practice or worked in the corporate world; only 3 percent inherited their wealth.

Regardless of how they built their nest egg, virtually all millionaires "make judicious use of debt," says Russ Alan Prince, coauthor of "The Middle-Class Millionaire." They'll take out loans to build their business, avoid high-interest credit card debt and leverage their home equity to finance purchases if their cash flow doesn't cut it. Nor is their wealth tied up in their homes. Home equity represents just 11 percent of millionaires' total assets, according to TNS. "People who are serious about building wealth always want to have a mortgage," says Jim Bell, president of Bell Investment Advisors. His home is probably worth $1.5 million, he adds, but he owes $900,000 on it. "I'm in no hurry to pay it off," he says. "It's one of the few tax deductions I get."

4. "I have a concierge for everything."

That hot restaurant may be booked for months — at least when Joe Nobody calls to make reservations. But many top eateries set aside tables for celebrities and A-list clientele, and that's where the personal concierge comes in. Working for retainers that range anywhere from $25 an hour to six figures a year, these modern-day butlers have the inside track on chic restaurants, spa reservations, even an early tee time at the golf club. And good concierges will scour the planet for whatever their clients want — whether it's holy water blessed personally by the Pope, rare Mexican tequila or artisanal sausages found only in northern Spain. "For some people, the cost doesn't matter," says Yamileth Delgado, who runs Marquise Concierge and who once found those sausages for a client — 40 pounds of chorizo that went for $1,000.

Concierge services now extend to medical attention as well. At the high end: For roughly $2,000 to $4,000 a month, clients can get 24-hour access to a primary-care physician who makes house calls and can facilitate admission to a hospital "without long waits in the emergency room," as one New York City service puts it.

5. "You don't get rich by being nice."

John D. Rockefeller threatened rivals with bankruptcy if they didn't sell out to his company, Standard Oil. Bill Gates was ruthless in building Microsoft into the world's largest software firm (remember Netscape?). Indeed, many millionaires privately admit they're "bastards in business," says Prince. "They aren't nice guys." Of course, the wealthy don't exactly look in the mirror and see Gordon Gekko either. Most millionaires share the values of their moderate-income parents, says Lewis Schiff, a private wealth consultant and Prince's coauthor: "Spending time with family really matters to them." Just 12 percent say that what they want most to be remembered for is their legacy in business, according to the AmEx/Harrison study.
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6. "I was a B student."

Mom was right when she said good grades were the key to success — just not necessarily a big bank account. According to the book "The Millionaire Mind," the median college grade point average for millionaires is 2.9, and the average SAT score is 1190 — hardly Harvard material. In fact, 59 percent of millionaires attended a state college or university, according to AmEx/Harrison.

When asked to list the keys to their success, millionaires rank hard work first, followed by education, determination and "treating others with respect." They also say that what they absorbed in class was less important than learning how to study and stay disciplined, says Jim Taylor, vice chairman of the Harrison Group. Granted, 48 percent of millionaires hold an advanced degree, and elite colleges do open doors to careers on Wall Street and in Silicon Valley (not to mention social connections that grease the wheels). But for every Ph.D. millionaire, there are many more who squeaked through school. Kiyosaki, for one, says the only way he survived college calculus was by "sitting near" the smart kids in class — "we cheated like crazy," he says.

7. "Like my Ferrari? It's a rental."

Why spend $3,000 on a Versace bag that'll be out of style as soon as next season when you can rent it for $175 a month? For that matter, why blow $250,000 on a Ferrari when for $25,000 it can be yours for a few weekends a year? Clubs that offer "fractional ownership" of jets have been popular for some time, and now the concept has extended to other high-end luxuries like exotic cars and fine art. How hot is the trend? More than 50 percent of millionaires say they plan to rent luxury goods within the next 12 months, according to a survey by Prince & Associates. Handbags topped the list, followed by cars, jewelry, watches and art. Online companies like Bag Borrow or Steal, for example, cater to customers who always want new designer accessories and jewelry, for prices starting at $15 a week.

For Suzanne Garner, a millionaire software engineer in Santa Clara, Calif., owning a $100,000 car didn't make financial sense (she drives a Mazda Miata). Instead, Garner pays up to $30,000 in annual membership fees to Club Sportiva, a fractional-ownership car club in San Francisco that lets her take out Ferraris, Lamborghinis and other exotic vehicles on weekends. "I'm all about the car," she says. And so are other people, it seems. While stopped at a light in a Ferrari recently, Garner received a marriage proposal from a guy in a pickup truck. (She declined the offer.)

8. "Turns out money can buy happiness."

It may not be comforting to folks who aren't minting cash, but the rich really are different. "There's no group in America that's happier than the wealthy," says Taylor, of the Harrison Group. Roughly 70 percent of millionaires say that money"created" more happiness for them,he notes. Higher income also correlates with higher ratings in life satisfaction, according to a new study by economists at the Wharton School of Business. But it's not necessarily the Bentley or Manolo Blahniks that lead to bliss. "It's the freedom that money buys," says Betsey Stevenson, coauthor of the Wharton study.

Concomitantly, rates of depression are lower among the wealthy, according to the Wharton study, and the rich tend to have better health than the rest of the population, says James Smith, senior labor economist at the Rand Corporation. (In fact, health and happiness are as closely correlated as wealth and happiness, Smith says.) The wealthy even seem to smile and laugh more often, according to the Wharton study, to say nothing of getting treated with more respect and eating better food. "People experience their day very differently when they have a lot of money," Stevenson says.



Saturday, 7 February 2009

How to Protect Your Million Dollar Idea?

Once you've come up with tentatively satisfying answers to the originality, production and distribution, and saleability questions, it's time to consider protecting your idea. After all, it looks like you have something.

If you do have a patentable item, it's time to look into trying to protect it under the patent laws. Here briefly are the steps you'll need to follow:

* Obtain a patent information booklet that is available through the Canadian Intellectual Property Office (CIPO). They can be contacted by looking up their phone number in the government listings in your telephone directory. In addition or as an alternative, contact your local library for publications that they may have on the subject.
* Contact an organization such as a Research Council to have what is referred to as a "State of the Art" search done. This is a type of patent search that does not have the depth nor does it go back as far in time as a proper patent search, but it can help to give you a starting point from which to proceed. If you are going to proceed with this, you will have to be prepared to provide enough description of the item and its intended use so that an accurate description can be communicated to the Canadian Intellectual Property Office of Industry Canada.
* Contact a patent attorney or agent to discuss the intricacies of the patent process and the potential costs of this process. The patent office will accept an application for a patent only from the inventor or from a recognized patent attorney or agent. You will want to weigh the advantages and disadvantages of attempting to put an application together yourself or using professional services that have experience in this field.
* Having a patent won't mean you have absolute protection. In fact, one survey found that in over 70% of the infringement cases brought by patent holders to protect their patents, the patent itself was held invalid.
* Defending your patent can be very expensive. If you don't have a patent, however, the probability of successfully protecting your invention approaches zero.
* Mere ideas or suggestions can't be patented. Some of these you may be able to put in patentable form, but for those that you can't it's pretty much do-it-yourself. Consult with a patent attorney/agent or the patent office about the classes of patentable subject matter.
o Say, for example, you think you have a great gimmick for selling more of Company A's products. Leaving aside the likelihood that Company A won't be interested, how do you approach Company A with your idea with any assurance they won't simply use it without paying you a cent?
o About the best you can do is write them a letter telling them you have a promotional (or whatever) idea and, without giving them any details, offer to send it to them. Include in your letter a statement to be signed and returned by a Company A representative promising they won't divulge your idea or make use of it without compensation (to be negotiated between them and you), if they'd like to know the details of your plan. They'll probably say thanks but no thanks or that they can't promise any such things without seeing the idea, but it's the only course open to you.

Wednesday, 4 February 2009

Top 20 Tips To Come Up With Million Dollar Ideas

1. Carry a notebook. Seriously, carry it everywhere. I can’t tell you how many awesome ideas I’ve lost simply because I forgot to bring my notebook. And you know why I can’t tell you? Because I didn’t write them down. Carry your notebook everywhere, always have some kind of writing implement, and write things down immediately. Of course, you may need to pull your car over to avoid an accident … or just start riding mass transit instead, to avoid that problem.

2. Keep a list. I have a simple Google Doc that I can pull up at any time with a few keystrokes (I use AutoHotKey to open all my most commonly used documents and programs instantly). On this list, I write down all my ideas. When I need to write a post, I am never short of ideas. Actually, I have dozens more ideas than I can ever use, so if anyone needs any, let me know. Just $5 an idea. :)

3. Exercise. OK, you’re going to skip past this one. That’s OK. I’m not saying you have to start exercising to have amazing ideas, but from personal experience, exercise is one of the absolute best ways to come up with ideas. It seems it is literally impossible to go for a run or a walk without coming up with an idea that will knock you on your butt. Which is why I now wear padded running shorts.

4. Driving. There’s something about the mindlessness of driving that allows me to come up with some of my better ideas in the car. To make this work, you have to drive slower than some of the maniacs out there (try it, it’s calming), and ignore the rude antics of your fellow drivers. Concentrate on avoiding an accident, but don’t worry if someone cuts you off or is driving slower than your average toddler can walk. Just stay in your Zen zone, and watch the ideas come to you effortlessly.

5. Read a lot. I’m reading a book every day, several times a day. It might take me a week to finish the book, but that’s because I take my time and enjoy the book. In addition, I’m always reading stuff on the Internet. Reading is one of the very best ways to find new ideas. And yes, you have to read the articles, not just the pictures. :)

6. Find inspiration. I find inspiration from many sources, including other bloggers, from friends and family, from life itself. Sometimes, an idea can be totally unrelated to the source of your inspiration, but the key is that spark, that energy, that ignition that gets your mind going. Whatever does that for you is worth its weight in gold. Failing inspiration, just rip off ideas (and make them your own).

7. Listen. One of my favorite ways to get ideas is by listening to other people talk. When someone talks to me, I try to talk as little as possible, and just listen to them and understand. That’s difficult when talking to engineers, of course. Those guys can talk! I also like to eavesdrop on conversations held by loud people when I’m in public places. Yes, that makes me weird.

8. Find twists. Found a great idea by someone else? As mentioned before, if you aren’t inspired by someone else, just rip off their ideas. But don’t just spit out the ideas verbatim — take them to another level by finding new twists on those ideas. How can you take this great idea (or even a common idea) and give it a new twist? Sometimes you can find the best ideas by putting a new spin on an old idea.

9. Examine your life. Take a few minutes now and then to step back and take a look at your life. What are you doing? Where are you going? Who are you? What are you all about? What’s important? What are you trying to achieve? What are you doing right and wrong? Ask yourself these types of questions, think about what it is you do every day and why. This kind of examination can produce dozens of new ideas.

10. Question everything. When you find yourself thinking or following traditional ideas that everyone assumes are right, question them. Ask yourself if it’s really true, and if so, why? Why does everyone think this? Is it possible there are other ways of doing things? Question everything, and you might come up with some surprising answers.

11. Trawl through fresh sources. Sometimes, if you drive home the same route every single day, it’s good to drive a new route, even if it’s a little longer. Change things up. Similarly, you should visit new web sites, read new authors, break out of your niche, talk to new people, start clicking on links in blogrolls and see where they take you. Get outside your familiar territory, and find new ideas in new places.

12. Bounce stuff off others. Got an idea? Bounce it off a friend or colleague. Sometimes their responses can spur new ideas in you, and vice versa. It’s amazing what can form when two people put their heads together. Avoid more than three people talking about ideas, though … “ideas by committee” is not a smart approach.

13. Reader emails. I get lots of emails from readers, and while it can take a lot of my time to read and answer them, it’s well worth the effort. Some of my best post ideas have come from the suggestions of others. If you don’t get a lot of reader emails, don’t let that stop you … find a way to solicit suggestions from others, asking for emails or comments on your blog or whatever it is you do. Let others come up with the ideas!

14. Forums. Similar to some of the items above, online forums can be amazing places for ideas. You can get suggestions from others, you can bounce ideas off people, you can read and be inspired by great ideas from people on the forums. And there are so many forums online that it’s practically impossible to run out of ideas from them.

15. Ask. When I’m running dry, or need a fresh source of ideas, I’ll ask my readers. I’ll do a post and ask them for suggestions for different topics. And let me tell you, there is no shortage of great topics when I do this. A few months ago I asked if they had “health and fitness” topics they’d like me to write about. I haven’t even gotten halfway through the list of ideas yet!

16. Magazine rack. When I go into a bookstore or grocery store, I like to spend a few minutes at the magazine rack. I don’t even read all the articles … I just read the headlines on the cover, or flip through the magazines. And I don’t just read the ones I’m interested in … I glance at them all. I’ve found some amazing ideas in these racks.

17. Look deep inside yourself. This is a difficult one. It’s similar to the “examine your life” suggestion, but it’s a deeper look at yourself. Really reach deep inside, and search the person you are, search your soul for your deepest desires, your innermost secrets, your most secret dreams and ambitions. You can find some of the most wonderful ideas deep within yourself.

18. Learn from your mistakes. While mistakes can be embarrassing, I love making mistakes. Sure, they’re sloppy and painful, but they’re anything but unproductive. Mistakes are the way we learn, and if we can harvest the power of mistakes to come up with great ideas, we are using our mistakes to their fullest potential. Think about the mistakes you’ve made in your life, recently and over the years. What can you learn from them? What can others learn?

19. Be inspired by nature. I love going outside, to take a breath of fresh air, to stretch, to get natural light into my computer-strained eyes. And to take a look at the beauty of the nature around me. Our world has some of the most incredible natural beauty in the universe … take advantage of the nature around you, and find inspiration in it!

20. Music. I like to play a good CD or tune in to my favorite radio station, to get myself moving, to sooth my savage beast, to make my soul leap with joy. Music can be the most inspiring thing in our lives, if we open up our hearts and minds to it.

Monday, 2 February 2009

The Social Million Dollar Idea in the Web

I'll talk about new internet phenomenon today - probably, next Million Dollar Idea in the Web, called "The Social Millionaire".

The overall idea of The Social Millionaire is very simple; the site is focused around a list of links where users can bid on keywords they would like to be associated with, and the highest bidder gets their keyword link displayed.

At a first glance, the site seems almost like a very common "link dump", but once you take a look at the finer details, you start to realize that this is much more original. It has a lot of great things going for it; first of all, the auction system for bidding on keywords really helps create a sense of competition. That's because some keywords are definitely eye catching and recognizable.

What's more important about this site though, and something that is really driving it's success, is the "Social" part of The Social Millionaire.

Well, I think it's very unusual idea and, probably, we can hear about in the future soon.

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