There is often a moment when at work, commuting, or just before bedtime when you come up with a great idea and you dream about the endless possibilities of your new invention. But you don’t know what to do next. Where to start? You just run to your notebook, wake up at night thinking there must be a way for this idea to be a reality. You might drink a few cups of coffee thinking about ways to make it happen and to benefit you and the world. Here are five basic steps that will help you get started in the right direction.
1.Write down your idea. Define what the problem and the solution is.
Define the main problem that needs solving. What is the issue? What other problems can you work out from it?
How will you solve it? Start focusing on the most important item first.
Write a long list with all the ideas that come up to solve the equation, let them all come out freely, there are many techniques to help you, like for example brainstorming.
Start doing some basic sketches, no matter how good they look at this point. This can help you visualize and put your ideas on paper.
2. Do basic market research.
- Is there something similar? How does it do it?
- Sometimes you can get inspiration from other products that have solved a similar problem, but before you focus on them try to find your unique way of solving it- this will help you not get fixated on the existing way things are done.
- Is there a need for my product idea? If it hasn’t been invented, is there a reason why? You want to start focusing on defining your market here.
You can use Google and if you find something similar don’t give up. Is there a way to make it different? How is that particular product selling? What are the reviews of the product like.
3. Do a patent search.
Keeping your idea confidential is essential, but there is no need to rush to patent your idea straight away. In any case until you define your product idea well and add innovation we recommend to not patent an idea that hasn’t taken shape and developed a bit.
To do a basic patent search on your own at home it is sensible to use “Google patent”. This will give you an idea of what product ideas have already been patented and if you are likely to infringe them.
4. Start a Mock-up prototype at home.
You can start creating a mock-up or model in a practical way to test the principle of the idea. This will give you insights on how it works, what things don't work.
You can start at home even if it doesn’t look as you would like it to yet. Obviously not all products can be prototyped easily but the earlier you start the better understanding of what you are trying to conceive.
5. Define your client.
It is important that you prove that there is a need for your product. You don’t need to give your idea away, but you can explore and chat to potential customers and see what their needs and wants are.
Can you start a survey to find out what they are looking for or could benefit from in relation to your idea?
Is there a way that you haven’t thought about to develop your idea? There are things here that you want them to tell you however you are looking for the unknown.
A good example would be to go to related events - eg. running or cycling events if you were designing a new sports backpack and survey your target customers.
6. Get professional design help.
With the above stages completed it is time to ask for professional design help. Professional product designers can add innovation, style, functionality, and will look in depth at all the variants, market research, worldwide patent search, routes to manufacture and put all this into consideration to make an end product at a reasonable price giving your customer a great experience.
Patenting doesn’t always come first as the new IP will be created after adding professional design. Be aware of companies who push you into doing a patent before you have a developed design. Ensure you sign an NDA (non-disclosure agreement) with the design company and anyone else you discuss the actual idea with.
7. Start asking yourself which way you want to sell it.
- Do you plan to license the new IP to a manufacturer or distributor?
- Do you plan to sell the idea yourself, make your own business or crowdfund your idea?
The answer to this questions is important for the business idea in your product development.
Written by Belle Rivas and James Lamb from Idea Reality.
Belle is the Marketing manager at Idea Reality. James Lamb is the Design director at Idea Reality. He has more than thirteen tears of expertise working in different design roles and developing products in the categories of consumer electronics, sports, pet, wellness, as well as industrial and construction products. He created Idea Reality in 2013 to help inventors and small businesses to develop their product ideas. His extensive product development experience has given him an strong understanding of production processes as well as excellent innovative design skills.