One Simple Idea is a practical, real-world guide that will help you take your ideas and get them to market with minimum investment of time and money. It is a great read that motivates the creative genius inside to think outside of the box, dream big, and get paid for it. One Simple Idea is a 5 star book and a steal for anyone interested in turning ideas into cash.
Part 1 focuses on how nice it will be once your ideas pay off and you are earning extra income.
"Find Your Million-Dollar Idea" (Part 2) really kicks off the valuable information in the book. This section offers great advice on what makes an idea valuable and marketable. Key emphasizes simplicity and how small ideas can make big money. While this part is good, I think it's also the weakest section in the book. Key only offers three creative thinking methods to come up with ideas . . . each just a paragraph long. He focuses on other idea generation methods that are simpler, but creative thinking techniques can unlock tons of great ideas in my experience. Going in depth here would make this book too long, but it would have been nice to include some additional recommendations for idea generation. For a book that is really strong in this area, check out Thinkertoys: A Handbook of Creative-Thinking Techniques (2nd Edition). It makes a great companion to One Simple Idea: Turn Your Dreams into a Licensing Goldmine While Letting Others Do the Work
Also in Part 2, Key gives an "idea litmus test" (70-73) to measure the ideas that you dream up. This is a great tool and a step that could be easily missed.
"Prove Your Idea" (Part 3) offers real world techniques to prove the viability of your idea. The information in this section is easily worth the price of ten copies of the book. Key's thoughts on prototype development (105-110) remove financial and fear barriers from the inventor's equation. Using his methods anyone can test markets with a little research and create great prototypes of their invention with minimal investment.
"Protect Your Idea" (Part 4) is the most valuable section in the book. If Part 3 saves the price of ten copies, Part 4 could save the price of a thousand copies. The first chapter details Key's method of protection through patents. His thoughts on this (not to mention the additional information on StephenKey.com) could save an inventor thousands of dollars, if not tens of thousands. Getting advice like this from an entrepreneur is more valuable than advice from a patent attorney.
The second chapter in this section details the best method to protect yourself when presenting your idea to others. Again, the advice is not just theoretical. Key spells out exactly what to look for and what to add to your agreements (133-134).
"Prepare to Pitch Your Idea" (Part 5) details how Key has licensed his products. His two-step method is simple, easy-to-follow, and a great idea. Anyone who has evaluated products of any kind will appreciate his approach. It will give you success more frequently and limit your failures to substance, not style.
"Submit Your Idea to Potential Licensees" (Part 6) details methods to do just that. Key gives techniques to narrow down your list of companies and even includes access to a part of his site that will give you the names of more than 1,300 companies that license products through open innovation (see page 173). Chapter 17 then details what to do once you narrow your list of companies down. Key's advice on cold-calling is practical and very helpful. This section could easily be applied to a wide variety of businesses. Key has obviously made many thousands of calls over the years and presents methods that will help you secure a licensing agreement.
"Bring Your Ideas to Market" (Part 7) gives a brief overview of how to negotiate and cut your first licensing deal. While there is not enough information in this section to answer all your questions, it is a great start. It is helpful to know what the going rate for royalties on inventions is, and Key does not hold back any information.
Be sure and check out the last two pages of the book for Key's 10 Steps from Idea to Market (222-223). He references the steps a couple of times throughout his book, and finally gives them all in one place at the very end.
"Appendix: Valuable Resources" is the last part of the book. The only thing better than a great book is a great book that points you in the right direction to learn more. Most of the resources on this page direct you to a section of Key's website. The advice is valuable, though the page on his site could be better organized and indexed with hyperlinks. Also, the recommended business book section is weak with only two books recommended. However, this could all be updated quickly and the resources themselves are very valuable.
*Pros - Excellent advice. Real-world help, not conceptual theory. - Will help you take your ideas to the marketplace - Additional resources and the value added from this book outweigh the cost of the book a thousand times over *Cons - Weak on the creative thinking & idea generation sections - References other chapters throughout the book. Helpful if you read a chapter here and there, annoying if read cover to cover - Uses same examples too often. I know much more than I want to about Michael Jordan's Wall Ball now.
If you are interested in a book that can actually deliver on its promise to make you money with minimal investment, this is a great one. It is refreshing to read a book that gives real advice, has very little theoretical filler, and clocks in at less than 240 pages. It is a book you will read through once and refer too often when you come across a great idea that has market potential. Buy it and, as two of Key's students say on page 151, "Invent yourself out of a day job one idea at a time."