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From Pondering… To Prototype… To Product!

For every entrepreneur starting a new business, it’s all about trying to find the right products to let your business take off. The difficult thing every entrepreneur finds when it comes to looking for something that catches the zeitgeist or appeals to a specific market is the equivalent of chasing the sun, it can be a long and arduous task. But for any entrepreneur reading this, have you ever thought about trying to make your own product rather than sourcing one? You may be thinking that this is not your expertise. But think about it, if you spent a lot of time dealing with people who have created products and you have guided them, offered feedback and implemented changes, you already know what it takes to create a product. You may just need a little guidance along the way.

Pondering to prototype to product

Getting Inspiration

Based on your own experience as an entrepreneur you have been in contact with many different markets and have seen what works and what doesn’t. So when it comes to getting inspiration for a product you may think it’s straightforward or you may just think about tailoring an existing product to cater for different target markets. However, the creative process is somewhat different to the business process, so you need to prime your brain ready for ideas. Inspiration is a funny thing. For a lot of people inspiration strikes when you least expect it, but conversely, a lot of writers will tell you that you need to work towards getting inspired. But you need to keep your mind fresh, especially when it comes to generating ideas that may prove to be lucrative down the line, however, it’s not a productive way to come up with ideas. Profit should be the last thing on your mind.

Generating Ideas

Generating ideas should be an organic process, but some simple methods include meeting new people. This is a very effective one, because by meeting people of different backgrounds and people who don’t think like you, you are opening yourself up to thought processes and working methods that didn’t even figure in your mind before. Another way to generate ideas is to solve a problem, also known as a “pain point,” so if you have persistent issues in your life on a day-to-day basis, this could be a perfect business idea. Even if you think you have the kernel of an idea, it’s always best to do some market research beforehand. You may see a gap in the market for something that is barely comprehensible as an idea right now, but in looking at what is missing from the current market, you will be able to flesh out a product to fill the gap.




The “Eureka” Moment!

So you’ve finally hit pay dirt, and you have an idea that you think has legs, it’s at this point where your business mind needs to start working. First thing’s first, you need to have proof of your idea and when you came up with it, which means documenting everything. There is something called a “poor man’s patent” which is where you write your idea down on a piece of paper, date it, and mail it to yourself in a sealed envelope. While this may have been a procedure in the past, it is unlikely to hold up in court. Instead, you may want to have an inventor’s journal and have it signed by someone else acting as a witness which will help you throughout the process of patenting, and you can easily purchase inventors journals online. The difference between an inventor’s journal and a standard one is that the pages are numbered consecutively and cannot be reinserted or removed.

The Next Steps

This is where issues can get sticky. Even though you believe you haven’t seen your idea before, that’s not to say it doesn’t exist. So before you get the patent lawyers or agents on board, you need to do the relevant research. You can undertake a rudimentary search to check the market all you could also look for a non-patent “prior art” search, which is where you look for any artwork or designs similar to your idea. And if you do find something, it prevents you from patenting your idea. Once you are satisfied that there is no other product out there, it’s time to make the prototype.

Prototype And Patenting

Firstly you need to sketch your ideas into your inventor’s journal before creating a mockup, preferably in 3D, which then naturally leads to creating a model that is fully-functioning. Although if your invention is expensive to mockup, you may want to go down the computer animated route and create a virtual prototype. Upon tweaking the prototype as much as you can, you will need to file a patent. And while there are patent lawyers that can help you with this, the basics you need to know are that there are two main types of patents, a design patent, and a utility patent. If you prefer, you can fill out the patent application yourself, but it’s always best to have a professional to look over the details first.

Marketing Your Product

Now we’re back to your original skill set. From creating the business plan to the marketing methods you will have an intrinsic understanding of how your product works. And no doubt throughout the process you have had light bulb moments on how best to market the item, how it can be sold or if you plan on licensing it to another company to sell. Always remember that if you license your product, it’s likely you will only receive from 2% to 5% in royalty fees, but you are more than capable of implementing this process yourself!

From pondering ideas all the way through to the products, the journey, in many respects, is similar to how you run a business both require a lot of creative thinking. But you have the distinct advantage over any creative person or any business person. You have seen it from both sides, and this makes you a better entrepreneur for it!

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Lynne Huysamen

Mommy to a pigeon pair, blogger and online marketer. Lover of chocolate, good books and buckets of coffee.

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