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Business Owner's Corner

You've Got a New Product Idea, Now What?

By Elizabeth Pierotti, The Inventing Life

From time to time, haven't we all had good ideas for a new product or service, and yet how many of us have actually done anything about it? Probably very few, and while that might be the end of the story, every now and then, you may be surprised to see one of your ideas end up on a store shelf somewhere.

If this scenario has a familiar ring or if you just keep getting ideas that you think have merit, it could be that your creative instincts are right on target. In either case, it may be worth giving some time and attention to your next idea so that you have a chance at reaping some benefits rather than someone else. If you're thinking that this sounds good but you don't know what to do or where to begin, this is the first in a series of articles to help you get on the path.

Companies whose life-blood depends on their new product offerings invest heavily in research, development, and testing. They have in-house resources, connections, and assets that are not readily available to individuals. That being said, as an individual entrepreneur, you have advantages. The first is that you are close to the action and understand the problems or needs that exist from a consumer's perspective. Secondly, you have the capacity to respond quickly in a way that large and unwieldy corporations cannot. Thirdly, you're the boss and you make the decisions!

As a seasoned inventor who's been in the trenches for more than 30 years with some wins, a share of mistakes and lessons learned, the message to anyone considering taking the plunge is a simple one. There is no rocket science or secret sauce involved. With organization, a plan, common sense, and a willingness to do the grunt work, you could be on your way to a successful venture.  

First, let's set the stage with some basics:

  • Ideas in themselves are not inventions. They can become inventions and products, but until they are proven to have substance and commercial viability, do not expect that any company or investor will buy into them.

  • The failure rate for new products is high and getting to the commercialization stage will prove to be challenging. Nonetheless, if you do the work and keep filling in the missing pieces, you have a shot. You gotta believe…

  • There are more than a few ways to get a product idea to the marketplace. Doing it yourself or licensing are only two of them. The channel you choose will determine how you should proceed and how much work you need to do.

  • The process of getting from idea-to-marketplace will cost money. This is a given.  Product development, patents, and prototypes are expensive and while these may be in your future, your initial focus should be elsewhere. Save your money and get an education first. Do your research, engage trustworthy and smart people, and do not fall in love with your product idea.

The goal of this education is to prove the viability of your concept so that you will make informed decisions on how to proceed and invest your resources. The question is, are you ready to commit to the work? If so, then welcome to the inventing life. You could be in for the ride of your life.

Read Part 2

Read Part 3

Read Part 4

© 2012, Elizabeth Pierotti, The Inventing Life

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