Brilliant ideas pop into our heads all the time. Whether it’s inspiration from nature or life, or a quick way to solve a common problem, you are bound to have a “eureka” moment every once in a while. Chances are that during a couple of these epiphanies you even briefly considered your product as a business idea. But why so brief? Such problem-solving products or improvements on existing items on the market can be the start of a very profitable business!
Turning your idea into a product that you can sell is definitely a journey, but it’s one that many have travelled before with success. If you’re looking for what such an endeavour would entail, here’s a rough roadmap.
Develop the Idea
You might feel tempted to keep your idea all to yourself, however talking and explaining your idea is how you get valuable feedback and prove to yourself that it is a worthwhile product. Incorporate comments and missing pieces into your idea for design and go through as many iterations as needed to get something that a lot of people find valuable.
Create a Prototype
Before you can, or even want to, start producing your idea at a large scale, it’s time to make a proper prototype. Try using different materials, colours, sizes, and more until you get something that you can be proud to show someone like a potential investor. At this stage you will probably have to hire an engineer, if you aren’t one yourself, to interpret your ideas into a design that can be manufactured. Afterwards, depending on the product, you’ll need to find a company with the right equipment to make it for you. 5-axis CNC machines give you the flexibility to manufacture high precision parts but are too expensive for you to buy at this point, just like programmable sewing machine might not be viable at the moment.
Patent Your Idea
Once you are happy with your prototype, if there is anything proprietary, you should apply for a patent that will protect your idea from copycats. There are different types of patents, from design to utility, so you might want to ask for the advice of a legal professional who specializes in this kind of work
Find a Manufacturer
Before you can even really look for investors, you need a proof of concept, meaning that you can prove that your product sells. To sell, you have to have inventory. Using your prototype and the designs that you had your engineer make for you, approach a selection of manufacturers asking for quotes for their services. Remember to factor in the price of shipping, handling, and taxes when you compare their offers. Once you have settled, it’s time to start making stuff!
Now you have done a lot of the grunt work but the greatest challenge is ahead of you- it’s time to sell. Decisions have to be made about how you would like to sell: to small retailers, big box chains, or directly though tradeshows and e-commerce. Your product can dictate much of your decision making, as does your audience, however remember that it should be something that makes sense to you!
Inventing something, be it a completely new product or just a better mousetrap, can be the adventure of a lifetime. If it succeeds, it can also become your livelihood and that of those who work in making this idea reality.
All is left is to gather the willpower and commitment to take your little “hack” or “improvement” to a successful business that puts you on the map!