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Business Owner's Corner

You've Got a New Product Idea, Now What? Part 2

By Elizabeth Pierotti, The Inventing Life

There is an expectation in the national conversation that small business entrepreneurs are the engine that will drive the economy and lead the country out of its current malaise. To that point, last issue's tips touched on several advantages that startups and entrepreneurs have over large corporations when it comes to bringing innovations into the marketplace. These include the proximity to customers and their needs, the ability to cut through red tape and creatively respond to those needs, all of which can help offset the drawback of having fewer assets, resources, and smaller war chests.

There is another advantage that deserves attention since it goes to the heart of the matter. One of the most inspiring traits I find in entrepreneurs with new product ideas is the belief they have that everything is possible. That positive "assume success" approach is what guides them through challenges and often allows them to accomplish feats that more seasoned professionals would not even attempt.

One of my missions over the years has been to support and nurture that energy so that it can be sustained when the going gets rough. To this end, I have had many occasions to share my experiences "in the trenches" in order to pre-emptively arm innovators for the challenges that can arise. Following are some frequently shared lessons learned that may be useful as you embark on your journey.

  • When venturing into a new product category or process for the first time, as you organize, create schedules, and even plan for contingencies, just know that in fact, reaching your goal will still take longer, be harder, and cost more than you think.

  • In your quest to innovate, there is a tendency to believe that if you can just get through this one challenge or stage, that the rest will be easy. While this is a comforting thought and a gift from the universe, it is not the case. If we truly knew in advance how challenging a given project would be, probably very few innovations would get commercialized.

  • There is little correlation between developing new concepts and "speed dating." New product ideas need time to simmer "in the vault" before turning up the heat on them. What could be worse than rushing to get to the finish line first only to discover that some critical step was missed and the product fails to meet expectations. Test the concept early and often in as many ways as will preserve your resources. Taking shortcuts and throwing money prematurely at a project before doing your homework is abdicating responsibility and will not end up getting the results you want.

Being ahead of the curve is a good thing but it is even better to navigate safely around it  and reach your objective. Start smart by organizing a product plan that takes into account your goals, your current status, and the concrete steps it will take to close the gap between the two. Most of all, stay positive and focus on taking one step at a time… what needs to be done today.

Read part 1

Read Part 3

Read Part 4

© 2012, Elizabeth Pierotti, The Inventing Life

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