I’ve always been someone that tries to come up with new ideas. When I was in college, I thought I had a great idea for bars looking to attract college students. I took the steps to get it off of the ground, but I’m not a salesman so I couldn’t close a deal. A few years after I graduated though, I saw that someone else had a similar idea and actually brought it to market. I kicked myself for not being able to follow through. But once the internet came along, the business went down the drain. Still it was nice to see an idea of mine become a reality – even if I didn’t bring it to market.
If you are like me, you might have an idea, but aren’t sure how to bring it to market or what route you should take. While I can’t tell you exactly what you should do, I can give you some guidance that I learned over the years.
#1 – Who Is Your Target Audience?
The first thing you need to figure out is who your target audience is. If you can’t figure this out, then you have no shot at turning your idea into a reality. Once you determine who your target audience is, you can then take the next step in to figuring out if your idea has any merit.
#2 – Test Out To Your Target Audience
Many times, when we come up with a new idea, we fear that someone is lurking in the bushes waiting to steal our idea. Odds are unlikely that this is going to happen. But, because of this fear, many inventors stall on this step, as they come up with non-disclosure agreements, and even possibly seek out a patent.
In many cases at this point, these are a waste of time. You don’t even know if you have a product or service yet. You need to get out there and test the idea. Go find your target audience and show them your idea. Get feedback. Listen to their concerns, issues, likes and dislikes and then go from there. You don’t need to show your idea to millions of people, but get a decent sized sample. If everyone you show your idea to loves it, then you know you are on to something. It’s at this point when you can start to look into protecting yourself.
#3 – Avoid Inventor Help Services
You see the commercials on late-night television. They will help you get a patent for your idea. Don’t waste your time. They are going to have you pay money upfront to create a market evaluation plan and then from there, you will have to pay thousands for patent research. The fees don’t end there as they will promise to market your idea for you as well, all for a price.
The Federal Trade Commission deals with numerous complaints every year with these companies. Save your money and hire an attorney. They will tell you upfront how much it will cost you to do the patent research. It is going to cost you a lot of money, which is why most people go to the invention help services in hopes of saving some money.
I had a friend use one of these invention services for an idea he had. He paid them $2,500 and got a nice looking report on the market potential. It told him he could make millions from his idea. They then started the patent research and slowly became less available on the phones and eventually went out of business.
These firms will play into your hopes for millions. Don’t fall for the scam. Research patent attorneys and work with a reputable person.
#4 – Do You Even Need A Patent?
Many times, inventors get caught up in the idea that they need to have a patent. The cruel reality is that even with a patent, if you are manufacturing your item overseas, chances are there will be identical competitors out in the market quickly. The only way to stop them is to sue them, as they don’t listen to cease and desist orders. Do you have the thousands, possible millions to take the issue to court? Probably not. Unless you have something that is truly revolutionary, I would just bring it to market and take my chances.
#5 – When All Else Fails….
If you have a product on the market that is selling but you want to take it to the next level, apply for Shark Tank. Even if you don’t get a deal with a shark, you will get free publicity from the show which could translate into a lot of money. But there is one caveat – I love watching Shark Tank. If your idea isn’t a great one, don’t waste the shark’s time. I don’t want to see the show go off of the air because of spammy ideas that will never work.
When creating a new idea, you need to figure out who your target audience is and then see if they respond well to the idea. If they don’t then you need to go back to the drawing board. But if they respond favorably, then you need to take the next step in getting your idea to the market.
When doing so, it is important to not overlook key areas but at the same time not fall victim to wasting your time and energy on tasks that aren’t going to get you closer to your goal. This is where having a mentor can pay off handsomely. You can seek out a mentor from a local Small Business Association or even a trusted attorney. Just make sure you do your homework and know that the person is someone you can trust.