Every product you use on a daily basis started as an idea. If someone didn’t have the confidence to share their concept and design, then we would not be enjoying the numerous products we have today. A simple idea or a complex innovation could be the start of a successful business. While it’s not easy, one of the most important things is knowing how to take your idea from scratch to an actual product that sells in the market.
From documenting your innovation, doing research to prototyping, here’s how to turn your ideas into a profitable product.
Document Your Idea
Simply having an idea in mind is worthless. What you need to do is to document it by writing it down when it comes to mind. It’s normal to forget even small important details. So, when you have an innovative idea, take a piece of paper or open a word document and jot everything down, including the idea itself, how it works, the possible uses, the potential design, how you could market it, your target audience and any other small details that are relevant to the idea.
You’ll need this information not only to create your product, but also to prove that it’s your idea. This is critical when it comes to patenting your idea, according to an Entrepreneur article. Remember to keep a log of every step you take, originals or sketches of all copies of drawings and sketches, receipts of all purchases and photos of important models.
Take Your Time to Research
Once you’ve documented your idea, it’s time to research it from a business and legal standpoint. Before you even think of filing a patent, you should:
- Conduct an initial patent search – This will help you find out if it already exists before you hire a patent attorney. You should also do a patent “prior art” search to find out if there is any sort of design or artwork that’s related to your idea.
- Research your target market – Just because your idea may be working in the current market doesn’t mean that it’s going to sell. Customers are always looking out for something unique. In fact, more than 95% of all patents turn out to be failures for the inventors. Before you invest time and money into patenting your idea, do some serious preliminary research to understand your target market.
- Make sure the product can be manufactured and supplied – Is it something people are willing to buy? If there’s a potential market, make sure your idea can be turned into a product that can be manufactured and distributed at a low price so your retail price can be reasonable. You can know these costs by comparing existing products in the market. Also, size up your competition no matter how unique you think your idea is.
Develop Your Prototype
At this point, you should be ready to develop a prototype of your innovation to put into practice all the things you’ve written down. A prototype demonstrates the design of your invention when you get to present it to potential lenders and licensing authorities, according to leading experts in prototyping — Weiss-Aug. Don’t file a patent before you’ve developed a prototype.
Why? It’s highly likely you’ll always think of a new feature to add or find a flaw in your original design. Patenting your idea before you sort out these issues is not advisable as you may risk losing not having them included in your patent or even lose the rights of the new features or design to someone else. When it comes to prototyping your invention, consider doing this:
- Begin with a drawing or sketch of all your ideas
- Create a concept mock-up of all materials that will allow you to create a 3D model design
- Once you’re fully satisfied with the mock-up, you can now create a full-working model of your innovation
Make sure to follow the numerous online resources and books that can help you create perfect prototypes. If you can’t afford to create an actual prototype, you can use a computer-aided virtual prototype.
File Your Patent
Now that you have everything ready including a prototype, you can now file a patent. Experts recommend that you hire a patent attorney to guide you through the legal process, so you can avoid any potential legal problems in the future. Remember to do your homework before choosing a patent attorney and make sure they’re registered with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. Make sure they also specialize in your type of patent and discuss their fees.
Market Your Invention
It’s time to find out how you’re going to market your product. This involves creating a business plan with detailed information. How will you get financing? Where will the product be manufactured? How will you sell it? Who will you be selling to? Will you manufacture it and sell it yourself or outsource that work to another company? A solid business plan is what you need to convince investors that your idea is worth it.
Considering that most new innovators don’t have a large marketing budget, experts recommend starting off with a strong social media marketing plan. This is not only wide-reaching but also cost-effective. You’ll need to work on your elevator pitch – a short, clear sales pitch that includes a value statement, a hook, statistics, product uniqueness and a call to action. Start talking to close friends and other professional contacts before you even have a finished product to sell.
Continuously Test Your Product
Products are not always going to be perfect in the initial phase. You will have to continually test your product and make necessary changes along the way. Testing your product with real consumers in the market who can give you honest feedback is the way to go. This will help validate your idea and should happen on a regular basis. Talk to people, seek out expert opinion and be part of the industry conversations. With a great product, profiting becomes easier.