Tips to help stop you from going to market too quickly—or too slowly
Often, an issue that is key to an inventor isn’t that important to others.
BY DON DEBELAK
Some inventors move way too fast to market, overlooking key considerations that could help them succeed or prevent them from wasting a lot of money. Some inventors move too slowly, paralyzed from too much analysis, and fail to move on their idea when it has a chance to succeed.
How can inventors find the right balance between too fast and too slow?
Too fast? 5 cautionary steps to avoid major errors:
1 Determine what your projected price will be. Get price quotes on your idea and then multiply that price by four. That is your projected retail price. SCORE (score.org) is a society of retired executives who offer free consulting. Most offices have retired manufacturing people who can help you estimate a final manufacturing cost. Make sure you have a manufacturer to make your product.
2 Understand your competition. Which products address the same need as yours, and what are their retail prices? Most trade magazines, which cater to retailers such as Kitchenware News & Housewares Review, have product directories that list most, if all, products available to retailers. Use a search engine for trade magazines in your product category and then inquire about the magazine’s product directory.
3 Try to calculate what percentages of users feel the issue you are addressing is important. If the issue is only important to a small group of potential users, your product probably won’t succeed.
4 Understand your startup costs and your funding plan to meet them. SCORE consultants can help you understand startup costs such as molds, product literature and trade show expenses. You might also have shipping costs, upfront payments for raw material, or for finished product if you have outside manufacturing.
5 Decide on a distribution channel. Try to meet at least one or two people in that channel to ensure that the channel will be open to you.
Too slow? 5 ways to know when to move ahead:
1 Understand that you will never have all green lights for moving ahead. Most ideas succeed with only 15 percent to 25 percent of the “lights being green.”
2 Don’t worry if many potential customers don’t express a strong preference for your product. All you need is about 20 percent of potential customers to really like your product.
3 Learn to trust others. You can’t possibly know everything about making an invention, and some details like having your product made overseas call on expertise that few inventors have. Once you have a potential vendor, check out his or her references before moving ahead. Trying to do every detail will paralyze you into inaction.
4 Accept that for most contacts you will be a very small customer, one that may never produce any business. Don’t expect potential vendors to go all out for you until you are ready to spend money. Be happy if the potential vendor treats you professionally.
5 Don’t worry about having enough money for a big product launch. All you need is initial product success that shows the product can sell. Then you will be in a better position to raise money from your industry contacts, vendors, family and friends.