Getting your idea from the drawing board to the marketplace
The idea person says, “Hey, it would be pretty cool if we could fix this problem” but stops at the point of talking about it.
The inventor says, “I can make something that will solve this problem” but stops short of figuring out how to bring it to market.
The innovator says “This is how we can solve this opportunity, which provides a value for a market that is in excess of the cost to solve the problem,” and does it.
(With the right messaging, positioning and sales, the investors say, “I get it. Let me throw some money at it to make it happen faster!”)
Keeping your business moving forward requires ongoing innovation. Believe it or not, when you add products and services to your offering, on some level, you are innovating. You are finding new ways to bring people to your business, perhaps get more money from them and get them to return to purchase again.
The problem for many entrepreneurs and business owners isn’t necessarily coming up with new ideas and bringing them to market isn’t always the problem. The problem for many business owners is doing it successfully and doing it again. You see, your market and your industry are going to change and you are going to need to change with it, or you will quickly find that your business is out of business.
Fortunately, as business owners, you have education and experience behind you.
Generally speaking, you have had a number of business experiences that you absolutely know won’t work. Perhaps you know it through personal experience, someone else’s experience or something you read or heard about somewhere (education). These are ideas or directions which you wouldn’t try without making drastic changes to improve the likelihood of success.
There are other experiences that could work, but haven’t been developed or brought to market at the right time or place. AT&T (Bell Labs) invented the video telephone 20 or 30 years ago. However, the timing wasn’t right. There weren’t enough people to go to market with it. These types of innovations, while potentially having opportunity in the marketplace, are going to require a complete mindset shift in the marketplace, which comes at a great investment of time and money.
Many business owners decide to pursue the path that many other businesses are pursuing, feeling as though if they aren’t doing it, that they will be missing the boat. In some circumstances, that may be the case, but the challenge is that if everyone else is doing it, it is not an innovation and no one is special. If you create a Facebook page for the sake of creating one, you aren’t doing anything special. If you make that Facebook page wildly popular through some innovative strategy, and converting browsers into purchasers, you are innovating.
The way to be a successful innovator is to look at all of the above educational and experiential information with respect to the idea that you have and brainstorm about it:
- Who would buy it?
- Why would they buy it?
- How often would they buy it?
- How many people/businesses would buy it?
- What will it take to bring to market?
- Will it require getting people to think differently?
- What resources (money, time, people, space, equipment, etc.) will be required to fully develop it?
- How can I gain access to those resources?
- How long will it take to gain access?
- Is this something that could be easily duplicated by competitors in or out of the industry?
Essentially, you test your idea for feasibility, then create a plan to develop it and take it to market, whether a formal plan or informal. If you need to find additional resources, dig deep into your resource pool and figure out who is going to be in your corner to make this happen. Remain perpetually optimistic; at times getting resources together can take more energy than you realized you had.
Regardless of your resource timeline, map out a timeline to develop the product and bring it to market. Understand that the market, the industry, the economy, society, etc., will not adhere to your timeline. Therefore, understand that a change in one portion of the timeline or the plan does not necessarily mean that all is lost. You started out innovating, continue to innovate and see this thing through. Unless you are trying to bring back tubed black and white televisions. Go for extraordinary.
Aepiphanni Business Consulting: The Business Strategy People is an Atlanta, Georgia based Operations Management and Business Strategy Consulting Firm dedicated to serving the needs of small to medium-sized business leaders. We help business leaders DESIGN| CREATE | BUILD extraordinary businesses. We support our clients with financial management, product and service production and delivery, outsourced services management, sales & marketing and business growth. We provide them with a number of flexible solutions to help them reach their goals.
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