Coming up with great product ideas is just the first step to building a successful company and brand. If every great idea actually materialized into a business, then the world would be significantly better today. Taking an idea and transforming it into a tangible product/service requires a great deal of time and effort, not to mention cash to float the initial inventory, business permits and licenses, marketing campaign, and other related expenses. Fortunately, anyone can start a viable business. It's not merely reserved for the wealthy or middle class. Here are five tips for taking your product/service idea to market:
Validate the Need For Your Idea
While you might find use for a product that brings you a cold beer straight from the fridge or a service that connects you to freelance designers, will other people find use for it? Are people willing to pay money for it? And if so, how much money would they be willing to part with for your product/service? Answers to these questions are crucial to understanding potential demand, how much you should charge for it, and how much you can afford to spend per item before you're in the red. There are a lot of ways to get this information - post quick surveys on social media, pitch the idea to your family members, friends, and research the market size of businesses with a similar product or service.
Figure Out Cost
How much you need to spend to realize your idea versus how much you actually have to spend are oftentimes disparate. While the actual costs might vary from the costs you initially determine, it makes sense to sit down and list everything that you will need in order to launch your product or service to market. For instance, if you are planning to launch a mobile application, consider the costs of hiring a web developer, a domain name and hosting service, and other subscriptions to tools and technologies you'll need to build the app from the ground up. In addition, you'll need to cough up money for marketing content that will stir up interest from consumers.
Develop a Prototype
Before you can approach investors for funding, you'll need to be able to present more than just a clever elevator pitch or a well-organized PowerPoint presentation. A prototype will give your investors a clearer perspective of what your product or service will look like and feel. If you are pitching a mobile application, consider creating a minimum viable product that showcases its core functionality. Design elements can be added later to improve user experience, but basic features will help investors and early stage users determine the potential value and use cases for your app. For physical products and devices, work with a manufacturer who can create the moldings for the parts you'll need.
Protect Your Idea
Once you have an actual product or service, the next thing on the agenda should be to protect your idea from potential copycats who might want to use it and pass it off as their own. Getting a design or utility patent, however, can cost money and take time to get approved. Make sure to do this step as early as possible.
Seek Out Investors
Cash infusion on a regular basis is vital for your new business to survive the first few months where market interest is just starting to pick up and earnings reports are still somewhat shaky. Seek out angel investors who will not just give you money, but will also give you access to their connections and expertise. Angel investors who are passionate about the industry and genuinely believe in your product or service will be invaluable partners to your relatively nascent and fragile enterprise. When discussing percentages on business ownership that you're selling to investors, be sure to run the numbers with a financial analyst or adviser first before finalizing anything.
Building a startup from the ground up is serious work. Before you begin laying the foundations, do a thorough self-check to make sure you have what it takes and is prepared to make the necessary sacrifices to build a successful business.