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Business Owner's Corner

Will You Make Money with Your New Idea? Part 4

By Elizabeth Pierotti, The Inventing Life

There's certainly no shortage of creative ideas floating around out there for new goods and services. We all get them. It's just not always easy distinguishing the good ones from the commercially viable ones from the ones that will make money. Given the choice and the audience for this publication, it's probably safe to assume we'd choose all of the above – the good and commercially viable products that will make money.

When is a Good Idea a Worthy One?
This is not a trick question but there are multiple parts to it. Worthy to whom? Let's start with you, the idea generator and the one responsible for what happens to it. Does your idea have a shelf life? Will it be as exciting an idea tomorrow or next week as it is today? I've learned to let new ideas simmer in a creative bubble for a time and not share them prematurely before they start to take shape and can be articulated clearly. There's something about keeping a new idea safe from the "Let me play devil's advocate" types who can stifle enthusiasm at a critical stage when the creative process should be left alone to evolve. Once you have a degree of confidence in an idea's staying power, the next question is, are you prepared to commit your time and energy to validate it? If you can answer yes, then this is the first step in testing an idea's worthiness.

When is an Idea Viable?
If it's worthy to you, the next consideration is its commercial viability. Think about the questions companies ask when they evaluate whether or not to take on a new product. Will it work? Can it be made affordably? Will it be profitable? Who owns the rights to it? These are also questions for you to answer. The good news is that, for the most part this information can be acquired without spending your valuable resources. It just takes time, organization, and grunt work. This may include exploring completely unfamiliar territory in which you have little or no interest, but consider this experience as dues to be paid and your education as to what's involved in transforming this particular idea into a finished product. By doing this work now, you will be making informed decisions when the times comes to invest.

Who Matters Most?
An idea is not worthy commercially unless your target consumers will buy it. If asked, even at a concept stage, these individuals will set the value marker, will tell you what you need to know including how much they're willing to pay for it. The successful products of today and in the future will have more characteristics than just being good and functional. When consumers evaluate your concept, this is more than an intellectual exercise. They will be using their senses and connecting with it (or not) on an instinctive and emotional level. The product concept, its story, has to be able to sell itself. If a significant number of consumers respond, on their own without being led, with an "I want that" or some variation thereof, then that is one healthy sign that you're onto something and it's worth pursuing.

My favorite Steve Jobs quote is: "Sometimes consumers don't know they want something until they see it." So show it. There is a lot of competition out there. Test early and test often and you'll be on solid footing.

Read Part 1

Read Part 2

Read Part 3

© 2012, Elizabeth Pierotti, The Inventing Life

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