My New Idea


I am working on a new idea. It seemed terrific in my head. I have been thinking about it for several weeks and been working on the prototypes over the past few days. It involves using some of the new equipment I recently purchased. One piece of equipment allows me to print on most any type of solid material such as plastic, wood or metal. The other piece of equipment allows me to engrave and cut shapes out of the materials. The technologies are not new but my final product is unique. Or at least I think so. Today was a disappointment. I had prepared all the pieces and was going to produce the final product. After about an hour of testing the printing, I began to engrave and cut the shapes. As I completed the first prototype, I took a step back and realized I am not happy with the final result. Each element of the project looks terrific but combined into the final product, it lacks something. Not sure what I am missing. The good news is I have not made one of the biggest mistakes of all. One that I have made in the past. I only ordered enough raw materials to make a limited number of samples. I paid substantially more for the small quantities however if I can't make this work, I have saved a huge amount of money.

I can't tell you how many people come to me telling me they produced thousands of units of their great idea and they are sitting in their garage. Can I help sell them. By the time your idea is sitting in your garage, it is a little late to begin thinking about selling them! Spend more on the samples and use them to see if you really have something before you decide to manufacture your idea in quantity! Wait until you have an order if that is possible. It might cost more in the short term but it will almost always save you a huge amount of money and frustration in the long run!




Not giving up.


Tossed and turned all night trying to figure out how to make my new idea work. I think I went through every option in my head. Now I have about 20 thoughts of how to revise it. It might be a long and frustrating day or if I am lucky, a very satisfying one! Either way, I will not give up until I have exhausted every option. It will come to me.

The one thing to remember is once the idea has been developed, it is important to take a hard look at it to decide if it is commercially viable. That's the hard part. I may have the greatest thing except it is too expensive to manufacture or I am the only one who thinks it is great. I have a long road ahead once I do get the concept right to determine if I actually have another product.

Don't give up but be smart. If it is not going to work, be smart and cut your losses. If it might, it is absolutely worth all the hard work, lost sleep and others telling you how it won't work!


Everyone gets a piece of the pie


Got a call yesterday from someone I had met at a trade show a few years back. He was an inventor who had a very interesting product. At the time I discussed taking on his item because it would fit well with our mix. We could not come to an agreement on the price. That is usually the case. An inventor always believes that their product is worth more than it probably is. I have been following his progress and from all his accounts I assumed he was doing okay. I guess not. He said he had not given up but was starting to think his pricing might be a bit high. He has been using the "magic" number of $19.95. That is a number that is commonly used on DR television spots because $20.00 and above is a threshold that many viewers have trouble crossing.

We discussed price again. If I am going to successfully get this product in the retail channel, I need to have enough in it for all the hands I need to feed. As a tiny company, I need to do more than the big guys and I have to do it with less resources. Don't kid yourself thinking that a store wants your product. They just want something that makes them money. And that goes for everyone involved. There are always products. The skill is finding the one that is going to sell, making if profitable for everyone and getting it to fly off the shelves!

I put an offer on the table. With these numbers I think I can do a good job with the product. Never know for sure but at least I have enough to work with. I am anxiously awaiting their response.


When is good enough... good enough?


You are at a crossroads. You love your idea but you think if I just did this, it would be so much better. But that will take time and money and make it cost a little more. You think it would be worth it because it would be so much better.

A better point of view is to understand that an idea is never complete. It is always evolving. You may have different versions of the idea but it is always evolving. The secret is to complete version one so you can see if it really has potential in the marketplace. It may not be the product it will develop into but you should get a good indication of whether it is worth your time, money and effort to continue with it.


What is your goal? A million dollars?


I meet people all the time with lots of ideas but absolutely no focus. By the time they get to me they have already been bombarded by companies that promise to license their ideas to large multi-national corporations or show them how to "easily sell" to the big box stores or worse yet, friends telling them how great their idea is and how much money they are going to make. Before I go on, remember this, if it were that easy, everyone would be doing it!

My first question, after listening to them go on and on about their revolutionary idea, is what do you really want from this? Is it money, a hobby on the weekends to earn extra cash, fame, or maybe a new car? This is more important than you think. The reason I ask is so you can begin the process of seeing if your idea can really achieve the goal. Let's say your idea generates $1.00 per unit. You need to sell over 2,739 pieces a day, 365 days a year to make your million dollars. Is that possible? Can you even afford to fund production on that many? A million dollars may be a lofty amount to aim for but the reasoning is the same. Once you have the goal, work backwards to see if it is achievable from a manufacturing, selling & financing perspective. This way you can develop a realistic plan to reach your goal. While it is so easy to get caught up in the emotion of how great of an idea is, along with asking yourself where are you going to spend all that money, it is way more important to step back and ask if you can afford to make it, is there enough demand to sell sufficient quantities, is the price point realistic, is there enough margin to make it worth your time and effort, etc. After careful consideration, it is much easier to make an informed decision.


What are you are really selling?


I met a couple who found old junk, combined pieces and made new junk. At first glance, it seemed kind of ridiculous but it really doesn't matter what I think. I am not the target audience. Most of the three hour meeting was getting them to understand what their goals were and then define what it is they were really selling. Turns out the junk wasn't really junk at all but mis-matched antiques from all different sources. Each one of these pieces had it's own unique story. They would combine these antiques to make a new elegant piece of art.

Was it art they were selling, a gift, or maybe the functionality the newly formed piece might have? They needed to answer this question if they were ever going to begin to really make things move forward.

It turns out it was not so much about the art or the new piece they formed but about the story each piece had. The fantasy of where the piece had been, the history and the emotions they evoked. As they started to discuss these stories, they began to realize the value of their product. It wasn't "newly formed junk" anymore but rather a unique gift with a history. A conversation piece that would be displayed prominently in the home.


It's harder than you think


Coming up with the idea is the easy part. Figuring out how to make it is a little harder. Selling can be an even bigger challenge. The common misconception among inventors is that the general public is waiting for their idea. Thus, buyers should be knocking down your door to get your products. Are you in line to get the first copy of "The Time Diet?" Obviously not. You don't even know what it is. It is your job to have people not only understand your invention and how it works but more importantly, why they need it. Then there is the most important issue, is it worth it? Will a consumer open up their wallet and pay for it. A new car that travels 300 miles on a gallon of gas would be a terrific innovation however if it costs over $200,000.00, the audience will be limited.

As you develop your idea, always be thinking about why someone would feel they need it and would your target audience really be willing to pay what it will cost. As you progress, you can be sure to keep focused so it will still be a viable idea when it becomes available for sale.

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