It’s no secret that discovering that one great product idea is an arduous journey in itself. Many people spend months and years hunting for that great idea and for many, it seems like the most difficult part of the invention process. Unfortunately, conceiving that great idea is only the beginning of a very grueling, yet also very exciting and rewarding, journey. If you’re in the situation where you are ready to turn your idea into a product and embark on what could be the best journey of your life, here are five important tips you need to know.
- It doesn’t matter what you think, it matters what your consumers think.
When you believe wholeheartedly in the product idea you’ve conceived, it’s difficult to comprehend that not everyone will believe in it as much as you do. So in addition to researching your market, you must make it a priority to obtain feedback from your target consumers to ensure your product is worth moving forward with. Often, the feedback you get will also help you develop the product even further by providing you with insight you haven’t thought of.
- The price tag of designing your product doesn’t have to break your budget.
When you’re new to invention, you really have no idea where to find a product designer. Like most, I started my journey by googling design firms, only to learn that my budget couldn’t afford their extravagant prices (think upwards of ten thousand dollars). Thankfully, I was able to find alternative and less expensive sources to design my product. I found my product designer through Freelance.com, a site that matches companies with credible freelancers. Another good, cost-effective option is to contact local industrial design students and freelancers through LinkedIn.
- Treat the business plan like your Bible.
Confession: I never wanted to spend weeks writing a business plan. However, I’ve learned that writing a solid business plan helps you iron out every little detail that you otherwise wouldn’t have thought of. It’s also a tool you’re going to need if you think you may need to apply for a business loan or grant or seek outside investments. You can build your business plan on the Small Business Administration’s website here. You can also google business plan templates. Make sure you think through every detail and include financial projections based on your market research, including a sales forecast, profit and loss statement and cash flow statement.
- Don’t limit your business to the United States.
Many inventors like myself start a business with a commitment to staying local and that’s great; however, often it isn’t feasible for a startup to manufacture in America. Production costs in the United States can be tens of thousands of dollars more expensive than abroad and this money can make or break a new business. During my experience with Potty Wiz, I’ve received quote differences of one hundred thousand dollars for the same injection mold.
There’s always the option to start abroad and bring production home eventually, once your finances allow you to do so. You can find representatives for manufacturing facilities overseas through freelance sites. Be sure to also connect with other small businesses in your industry for referrals on quality overseas manufacturers. Be sure to account for shipping costs and import taxes when manufacturing abroad.
- Protect yourself with a patent.
You now have your great idea, business plan, market feedback and production information. Now what? It’s time for a patent! Patents are your legal protection against anyone else taking your idea. There are two most common types – design and utility patents. If you decide to pursue a utility patent, you should start with a provisional patent which is essentially a low-cost method of protecting your idea for a period of one year while you test your product and market. After a year, you can choose to pursue the full utility patent or trash the idea.
Hand Touching Ideas Button courtesy of Stuart Miles / www.freedigitalphotos.net
About the Author: Kaylee Wickline is the founder of Potty Wiz, the only multifunctional and transitional potty training chair that accommodates the special needs of both girls and boys.