Clothesline of product ideas: image by Myra Per-Lee, ©InventorSpot.comNearly everyone has at least a dozen earth-shattering inventions up their sleeve. At least that's what they believe. But most who want to run with their ideas and make them profitable end up wasting a lot of time, especially as novices, on ideas that are already on the market or that few others want. It's important to work smart and fast as product developers so your focus is on the new, the needed, and the profitable. Here are five New Year's Resolutions that will boost your efforts and your results.
These resolutions look simple, but they are not, no more simple than, let's say, losing 20 pounds.They require research from a variety of perspectives and persistance in getting the answers you need.
For each idea, I will spend time...
1. Defining the problem.
Few of us have the luxury to invent products that have no purpose. If you have an idea for a specialized scissors, there must be a reason why any old scissors cannot cut (it), if you get my meaning. So what is the problem with existing scissors? Why aren't they cutting it for your particular application?
2. Defining my solution.
Oh, so the solution is your special scissors? How will your scissors operate in a way that separates it from other scissors on the market? You will need to learn about all tools that are available to the general public currently that claim to solve 'the problem.' If it is for a special industry, how is the task being accomplished now? You will need to know about the latest and best tools available in that industry. (Read this article.)
3. Defining who will benefit from my product solution.
You have a new crib design. Who will benefit from it? Babies? Mothers? Which babies and which mothers? Mothers who want to protect their backs? Babies who tend to sleep on their stomachs? Get as specific as you can about your audience.
You need to quantify this audience or audiences. Then you will need to describe why your audience will buy your product rather than the other products on the market designed, differently perhaps, to achieve the same goals. What percentage of your audience are likely purchase your product, or, what is your market share?
4. Estimating the costs of my product.
Here you will need to research the possible materials that can be used and the possible ways of manufacturing your product. What is the ideal way to manufacture your product? How much will that cost? What will the consumer be willing to pay for your product? Does the current economy have a potential impact on the sales of your product?
Once you determine the costs of manufacturing your products, you will need to determine your other fees - those for prototypes, molds, and other start-up costs. If you are seeking patent protection, you will need to include the costs of patent searching, applications, and related legal fees. If you are seeking investors or licensees, these searches will need to be funded too.
5. Determining cost vs benefits of my product.
Costs v Benefits: image via Medical University of Southern Carolina
This analysis must be done before any substantial money is spent. Don't spend more than the cost of one working prototype made of the least expensive materials possible. You can do a preliminary patent search yourself. (See this article.)
Take your sales estimates (What percent of the population of likely purchasers will actually buy your product if it is sold by the ideal markets?) and subtract the costs to develop and manufacture the product. You don't have to incur the expenses yourself, but do you have enough data to convince a large company that development is worth its time, effort, and expense?
If not, you need to move on to something else - another idea or another way to earn a living.
The information you've collected should be recorded in a separate 'invention notebook' for each product idea you have. It is substantiation for your decision to go ahead or to drop the idea, at least for now. You have spent your time wisely and found the basic information you need before plowing into your idea body and soul. If you decide to go ahead, this information will provide foundation for your sales pitch to others you decide to involve in your endeavor.
You can review the series I prepared for inventors and product developers here.