From design to prototyping, patenting, manufacturing, packaging, fulfillment, and sales and marketing, there are so many tasks for inventors to tackle. On top of that, there are so many ways to fail. When you are coming into new territory, statistically, the chances of things going wrong are higher than the chances of things going right.
Add to that the seemingly endless bad advice, poor processes, consultants ready and willing to take your money, sketchy manufacturers, sales programs promising six figures, and you may as well dedicate at least half of your time discerning. This discernment, between right and wrong, should and should not, is the part of the process nobody truthfully talks about, and it's also where product launchers lose big.
Creators & Inventors Deserve the Truth
After watching this unfold for the entirety of my career in product design, the shoulds and should nots became undeniably clear to me. I found this to be true for bestselling author and fellow product launch expert, Dennis Shaver, as well. So I wanted to put together a list of absolute shoulds and should nots when it comes to taking your potentially best selling idea from mind to market. If you read anything at all this year, let it be this.
Slow down. Get your mind right, get your design right, learn your market, and then take small steps into the market.
Surround yourself with the most effective resources. The idea should be that these resources will help you gain the traction you need to take the most effective action. You should always be setting yourself up for success in the future.
Spend the least amount of early money possible. You cannot buy success, and if someone tells you otherwise, you won't see the return on that money they are promising. Do not learn this the hard way. If you have to, do not learn this the hard way more than once. If you have done your research, your market is solid, you know what they want, your design is perfect, your manufacturer is capable, you won't need to buy success.
Fill your garage full of product and expect people to buy it. Do not base everything you build on what you think the market needs. Start there, and go into preparation. Research, identify what the market wants, and don't fill your garage with something you're going to bulk sell out at a fraction of the value in five years.
Drop heavy cash on the most important patent/process/etc. Or on anything for that matter. Cash is easy to spend and harder to make, especially as a start-up or inventor. Pinch your pennies, bootstrap, keep making noise, and let the growth happen. You cannot buy it. "I'm so excited. I just got my first patent!" This is just an expensive piece of paper if the product can't be made cost effectively or doesn't sell.
Expert Process Freebie
When working with clients, I have a process laid out to help inventors not get too far ahead of themselves, and not get left behind.
Prove It. Proof of concept and market are the foundation you NEED.
Price It. Your research will drive this and it has to be right, or it won't sell. That's why you can't afford to wait until the end to price your product.
Plan It. Design with manufacturing in mind.
Prototype It. Cost effective is key here along with allowing plenty of time for iterations.
Protect It. Don't let your paranoia get the best of you. Patent only when you're ready and make sure it's the right patent for future plans and goals.
Produce It. Manufacturing can make or break you. Make sure your partnerships are mutually beneficial, well researched, and heavily protected.
Promote It. Sales and marketing, your story, your brand; these are your connections (finally!) to your consumers. Make it consistent, bold, and genuine.
Don't Let Unknowns Stop You
Over the past few decades in helping aspiring entrepreneurs get their ideas from Mind to Market, Shaver has learned a lot about the why and the why not and it resonates with my experience as well. Whether you are afraid, you don't know where to begin, or how to protect your idea, there is no better time to start than now. That's not me trying to drop inspiration either. The barrier to market entry is low, the access to building a larger network is more open, and the cost is less than it's ever been.
Successfully bringing an invention idea to the marketplace is a voyage like no other. And you can start exactly where you are, with what you have, right now.