The Next Step for Your Great Idea

next_stepOK your idea passed the test. You did some research and it seems pretty unique. You have also decided your idea is something you are willing to invest in both with your time and a little money. Now what?

As I referred to in the blog post ‘So You Have a Great Idea‘ moving that great idea through to commercialization is a process and it can take years. For example the Smart Board that is now in many school classrooms and company board rooms was an idea that was first born in 1986. It was 1991 before the first interactive whiteboard was created and as I understand it a few years after that before the company was actually successful. Check out their story here.

For innovators that want to commercialize their idea the Canadian Innovation Centre suggests that kind of venture success depends on 8 big hurdles or factors and critical gaps in one or more of these factors significantly reduce the likelihood of success. Three of these factors are in the marketing realm, the rest concern the innovation itself, the customer, finances and whether the entrepreneur has the right stuff. Go here for the complete list.

Before you spend any money or any more time the next step should be to analyze the technical strength of your idea. To have commercial value your idea (and the resulting product or service) should solve a real problem. Not only that, it needs to somehow solve the problem better, cheaper, faster than current solutions. Keep in mind that current solutions have market share already backed by advertising budgets and even customer loyalty. Your solution even if it is better, cheaper, and faster needs to provide customers with a compelling reason for them to change otherwise it will be easier for them not to. It is also good to remember benefits are more important than features. People would buy a picture hanging tool with a level to hang pictures straight not because the tool comes in a nice storage case.

The technical analysis also involves determining whether or not your idea is physically possible. If your idea involves a process by which lead turns into gold perhaps a different approach will be necessary.  Interesting to note that a few patents have been abandoned because the inventor was unable to get a prototype to work. In other words the invention/innovation wasn’t technically feasible in the first place.

Remember this is all stuff you do before you have spent any real money. Before you have invested so much of yourself you can’t let go no matter what the consequences. Not understanding how important preliminary research is could only cost you mega dollars in the end.

If you get to this point and you want some help or advice please send me an email at and I would be happy to help.

2 thoughts on “The Next Step for Your Great Idea

  1. Bob Hall

    Janet, I enjoyed your blog. Quite true, your point on “spending money”. Innovators find it ease to invest time and energy into developing their ideas and that is great: when you have an idea, you want to work it out and see it unfold before your eyes. There this feeling of building something. The difficulty is if the innovator ‘spends money’ as freely as they do time and energy into a new idea that can cause problems. The innovator that spends a whole bunch of money trying to prove their idea works, only to find the marketplace doesn’t want it or it’s technically not feasible, ends up wasting their hard earned cash.
    Innovators can narrow down the technical feasibility of an idea before building a proto-type by talking with an engineer on the functionality of the preliminary design.
    Innovators can be more observant about similar and competing products in the marketplace by searching the Internet. They can better ask the question of themselves, does my idea have sufficient value to the customer that he/she will stop buying and using what they have and introduce a new product into their lives?
    Lastly, innovators could get a better view of their innovation from the viewpoint of ‘return on their investment’. How much money will they be spending to moving the idea forward and asking the tough question, what is my return on spending that amount of money? Is it an investment with good returns?

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