For the past ten years, I have seen thousands of people transform an initial idea into creative, money-generating new products. And, with the resurgent economy and awesome new resources available for developing, manufacturing, funding, video marketing, selling and distributing products, the opportunity for inventive product entrepreneurs has never been better. If you have a great new idea now’s your chance to take action and get started.
Every entrepreneur’s journey is unique, but like any serious endeavor, the most important steps are the first ones.
Below are seven tips to get you started on the right path:
1) Treat Your Product Idea as a Business from the Start. There is no true short-cut. With an open mind, analyze and understand the market size, design and production costs, selling price, profit potential, and competition BEFORE you spend money bringing your product to market.
2) Make it Simple. Many new product ideas include flashy features from electronics to excessive bells and whistles that drive up production costs and the retail price. Creating high-quality products with fewer features–but priced right — can mean more sales and money in your pocket.
3) Raise Smart Money. Use crowd-funding, microloans, credit lines, and new online options that fit your business. Check out: Lendio, SoMoLend, Opportunity Fund, Kiva Step Ahead Loan Program, Accion USA and Kabbage to get started. There has never been a better time to fund your business.
4) To Patent or NOT to Patent? A patent can be a useful tool but it is not a requirement and sometimes a waste of precious resources. Consider taking advantage of a Provisional Patent Application (PPA) first. It is a placeholder that will buy you 12 months of time before you have to officially file a utility patent.
5) Bring Your Product to Life with a Prototype. Start with something basic that will be refined over time. It does not need to be expensive or fancy. The purpose of a prototype is to figure out how to make your idea work.
6) Business Planning Will Improve Your Chances of Success. Most people don’t plan BUT it will help you get to market faster. You will gain clarity, focus and confidence. A business plan will help you refine your thinking and answer important questions like:
– What am I building?
– Who am I in service of?
– What is my promise to my customers/clients and to myself?
– What are my objectives, strategies and action steps to achieve this?
7) Celebrate Your Successes…Large and Small. Recognize setbacks for what they are an unavoidable — and sometimes the most valuable — part of the journey. This is an opportunity to build a business and life that you LOVE.
There are many steps along this journey but with the abundance of new resources available you can take your idea and run. As Julie Martin-Allen, Senior Director of Showcase Events for Sam’s Club said in the foreword of my new book, “My final advice to those readers who aspire to see their products on the shelves of the nation’s top retailers; be courageous and go for it!”
For more resources on funding, manufacturing, sales & distribution, publicity and managing your business check out The Mom Inventors Handbook: How to Turn Your Great Idea into the Next Big Thing (second edition), released on April 1, 2014.