Coming up with an idea is often the easy part. The hard part is execution.
Your idea can come at any time: you may find a solution to something at work, you might be reading something that strikes a chord or you might simply be letting your mind wander during your morning shower regime. With effective execution, you have the power to charge your idea, causing a surge that – depending on how much power you supply – could catapult you out of your 9 – 5 job and into the world of entrepreneurship.
Our advice? Go for it. Here’s how:
1. Establish a market
Firstly, consider risk mitigation. Before you spend your life savings on a prototype, you need to be certain that a) there is a market for your product, b) that a market can be created if necessary and c) there is a defined price customers are willing to pay. The simplest and cheapest way of doing this is by approaching people who are not connected to you, such as family or friends, and explain the principles of your idea to them. Take their feedback constructively. If they say it’s not something they would be interested in, there’s a good chance your product is going to be an uphill battle. If they say they would bite your hand off for it, then you have an idea of how well it will sell… so long as your end product reaches their expectations. Once this has been completed, you will know that there is a market for your product and what the average price point for your product is.
2. Protect your product
The ‘what next’ is actually dependent on what your product is. If it’s a physical product you need to explore the patent route. If it’s a web product, patent protection isn’t possible so you have to protect the product’s brand. Aim for rapid market penetration. Make yourself almost impossible to compete with because you are operating at the edge of a viable business envelope. Then, either:
(i) Obtain a patent for physical products
This is usually done by securing a patent attorney, working with them to produce a vague article of your product along with a list of claims. Claim 1 being the broadest and claim 10 being more targeted; patents can have thousands of claims. From the moment your patent is filed your product is protected and can be marked with the term ‘Patent Pending’. The whole process takes about 5 years until granted and lasts for 25 years in total. Expect it to cost up to £50,000, dependent on the complexity. You can do all of the above yourself but any mistakes may cost you dearly in the future.
(ii) OR: Protect your brand for web based products
Online products are all about branding and market penetration. Building the site is the first step, getting people to use it and keep coming back is the hard part! Here are 7 tips for protecting the product:
Assess the website cost – Does it match the strength of the brand and functionality?
Avoid empty room syndrome – Can you show to visitors the site is always busy? If you can, this will encourage new users to sign up and use it.
Invest heavily in backroom technology – Take Videoscape as an example. Anyone can build a video site, but Videoscape invested heavily in back room technology, meaning it delivers content efficiently, causing problems for competitors!
Focus on efficiency – The more efficient you can make your product the more likely it is to be profitable. If you buy your servers outright for 3 years; this could save you 90% of the on demand costs.
Couple efficiency with profit margins – Operate your product on the margin of profitability when starting out. This is tricky and can be like balancing on a knife edge, but as you grow your profit margins will grow proportionally – if you have your sums right.
Saturate the market – If you can get rapid uptake and become big enough in a short period of time, it will be extremely difficult for anyone to compete against you.