How to turn a good idea into a business
How to transform a cool idea into a business in 28 days
*Fernando de la Peña
From my perspective there is a very thin line between choosing to act and opting to wait. On the one side, we are so confident that our idea is great that we don’t want to hesitate to launch it on the market. On the other side, we are uncertain and fear that if we don’t wait and do more research before committing to it, that we may make mistakes.
The waiting side of the line is very risky, because if we do have a really good idea and we don’t put it out there quickly, somebody else will. We are in a global marketplace where every day new ideas are popping up everywhere–innovative businesses and new markets–this is why we need to move forward from a potential product to a real product.
Well, time is essential and we need to do something smarter, faster and better. “Time is a predator that stalks us all our lives,” especially when it comes to good ideas, but we need to have a plan before we launch.
(Day 1) First of all you need to know if somebody has already had the same idea. You should do exhaustive research on Google to be sure that nobody has beaten you to the punch, or if so, whether you can improve upon it. Your research should include a patent search on your idea. If it’s something that you can patent, I suggest you to visit the “United States Patent and Trademark Office.”
(Day 2) If your idea is unique or has potential, invest about $130.00 USD to protect it using the USPTO website; which doesn’t mean you are patenting it. If you just devote a few hours to filling out the templates on the USPTO site, describing your idea and what aspects of it you want to protect, and submit it through the Internet, your idea will be granted the status “patent pending.” You’ve probably already seen that designation on a lot of new products. It simply means that if somebody has the same idea, you will have priority because your ideas have been registered at the USPTO. If your idea is a success, then you should proceed and complete the patent process.
(Day 3) Make a business plan. By following your biz plan, you will determine whether there is a real market for your idea or product, and you can put all the necessary elements in place to move from a cool idea to a marketable product or service. You can make your biz plan by filling out the canvas model, which has a simple template on which you can enter all the pertinent information.
(Day 4) At this point, you should know in theory if your product or service is a viable business, what problems you can solve or needs you can satisfy with your idea, and what your market might be. But as I mentioned, this is only in theory. Now you need to move from theory to practice and get financing. To get the financing you need to know real variables, so you need to have a “Minimal Viable Product,” or MVP. If it’s a service, you will have to do a pilot test. If it’s a product, you will have to make a scale prototype which will allow you to show it to potential customers and obtain valuable feedback. Don’t have any trepidation about showing it; your idea is already protected and a constructive critic will be your best partner.
(Day 15) with the user reviews and collected feedback, you should know in real life if it’s viable or if you need to change something. One of the best talents of an entrepreneur is progressing through this stage with a positive attitude. Critics will sometimes discourage you, but criticism enables you to inch closer to success. Just like Edison, who invented the lightbulb after collecting valuable information from his nearly 1,000 failures, if you persevere, your idea may also be a success. Now, with the requisite upgrades, conduct another pilot test or prototype demonstration featuring your improvements.
(Day 18) Now that you have more information, adapt your canvas model with the new variables, and if it’s viable, then it’s time to get financing. The financing can be from your own pocket or from backers who are willing to support your idea. Please keep in mind the following: when you begin to make profit, pay yourself a salary, but reinvest all the remaining profit in the company for 5 years to grow your business.
Also, speaking of financing, you can be certain that, at this very moment, lots of people with deep pockets are on the internet researching where to invest their money in revolutionary ideas. However, in the real world, it is no myth that, to finance your idea in the beginning, the money often needs to come from your own pockets or from friends or family members, or by taking out a bank loan. You may also have some luck raising seed money through crowdfunding.
Keep in mind something very important: today your idea may not have any value, but one day it will. Never commit to give 50% of your company or idea to somebody else, as doing so means that you don’t believe in your own idea. Only commit to the opportunity to make a potentially rewarding investment. Publish your idea in crowdfunding for 10 days. Meanwhile, try to get the funds to start working on your product or service. It could be small scale, but do it anyway.
(Day 28) Launch your product or service to the market, advertise it, and wait for the customers to come; always making adjustments depending of the winds of change and innovation. Don’t fear jumping right in and getting started, and keep in mind that now we have a global market and there is a customer for everything.
Keep adjusting your canvas model, and when your product or service has had some time on the market, it will be more attractive to investors and banks; especially when you can show returns on investments. Then your business will be on the road to success.
*Fernando de la Peña es colaborador de @NewsInjo, Ingeniero Cibernético, Fundador de AEXA en Houston Texas y colaborador de Proyectos Aeroespaciales en la NASA. Síguelo en @fdodelap. Más información sobre innovación en: firstname.lastname@example.org