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The Family Invention Challenge

The Family Invention Challenge

The concept of wasting time is nothing new to parents of teenagers. We bristle at the hours devoted to social media, the time squandered on video games, and the concern devoted to temporary drama. But what to replace such time-wasters with is a different challenge. Sure, your kids could fill their summertime capacity another load of dishes or mow the lawn, but such alternatives are unlikely to be persuasive.

Rather than griping about how your kids are filling their time, what if we harnessed that free time for something productive? Something that brought the family closer together, extracted ideas out of our tight-lipped teens, and even had the potential to be profitable? Introducing the Family Invention Challenge.

Necessity Mom is the Mother of Invention

If the next million-dollar idea isn’t hiding under your nose, chances are it’s hiding under the nose of your son, daughter, or spouse. At tonight’s dinner, begin your week of family invention by telling your kids to come to tomorrow’s dinner table with three ideas. They could be three problems in search of solutions, three ideas for gadgets, apps, or gizmos, or a combination of both.

Tomorrow night, work around the table and present your ideas. Next, vote on which idea the family likes best from among each family member’s three. By celebrating at least one idea from each participant before selecting the ultimate winner, you’ll avoid hurt feelings and free the family up to ultimately give honest feedback about which is the most likely contender.

After everyone’s ingenuity has been recognized, hold a final vote. Each family member gets to vote for two ideas total. Tally up the total and celebrate the idea that’s about to take over the household for a week or two.

Divide, Delegate, and Conquer

Now that you’ve identified your family’s best idea, it’s time to get down to business. Consider your kids’ gifts and divide up the following assignments based on who is most proficient in each area:

Competitive Research

  • Does your idea already exist? If so, what are its weaknesses? Why doesn’t the world know about it? If not, what products or services are close enough to learn from?

Run the Numbers

  • How much would it cost to make a prototype of your idea?

  • How much do similar products sell for?

  • What price point are you shooting for?

Creativity Time

  • Draw a sketch of your product or a logo for your service.

  • If you’re creating an app, brainstorm what the user interface might be like.

Shark Neighbor Tank

After a week of due diligence, review your findings as a family. If you’re feeling gusty, hold an informal “Shark Tank” among some friends and neighbors. Show off your son’s sketches, your daughter’s number crunching, and ask for some constructive feedback. Is this a problem they’ve faced? Is the solution viable?

Next Steps

If your week of invention did nothing but bring your family closer together, encourage some constructive thinking, and inspire creativity, that’s a big win. But if you think you may have also picked up on a feasible and potentially profitable idea, consider some next steps. Such as “what is the minimum viable product we could create to test the market?” Or, “how could we test our concept for less than $100? The books “The $100 Startup” and “The Lean Startup” are great reads that help visionaries get practical about testing their ideas. Who knows: this summertime activity could end up funding summer vacations for years to come.

Looking for more inspiration? Check out our episode, “The Biz Kid$ Challenge.

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