How would you solve this business challenge?

Photo credit: Wikimedia commons
Photo credit: Wikimedia commons

It’s everything you want. You’ve got a new idea and it holds great potential but you don’t know how to turn it into a viable business. What you do?

A skateboard maker Ted Hunter, a 62-year-old furniture design Professor at a Canadian university and founder of Roarockit Skateboard Co. with his wife, Nora Jackson, has come up with a new way to shape wood veneer. He found a way to “punch” layers of wood veneer to make them ripple like the surface of the ocean but at the same time strengthening the product and still preserving the flat, rideable side of the board. The conventional process involves inserting pieces of veneer to create contours. Although he has patented the pinch process in Canada and the United States, Ted has to work out how to use this new process. He wants to start manufacturing but doesn’t have a lot of cash. He could also use the process in furniture and housewares.

This is a challenge that many would-be entrepreneurs face. That is that they’ve come up with a brilliant new idea but don’t know how to turn it into a viable product or service. What also makes things difficult is when you have come up with something that is out of your domain of expertise. You might, for example, know everything about a restaurant business but what happens when you come up with a new business idea in an area where you have no expertise?

Domain expertise is critical for any business. Sometimes gaining experience and learning what it takes to run a business in industries where you haven’t worked before makes things challenging. How do you gain experience? How can you bridge your minimal experience or nothing at all with the requirements of introducing a product or service in a new business area? Do you bring aboard experts in the market or industry – but probably at much cost – to help you bridge the gap?

You may have a new idea that holds great potential but how can you turn it into a value proposition that is attractive to a potential market segment? Sometimes what it takes is for the small business founder to select a segment of the market where the greatest potential lies and supply to this segment. It may be prudent to leave the other segments alone until you have built up domain expertise in one of the segments.

For any would-be entrepreneur who has a great idea for a product or service it’s important to work out whether you will manufacture the product yourself, outsource to a manufacturer or even license the product to a larger company. All these choices lead to different end results and you have to be careful about knowing exactly what you want from your new idea, how much time and effort you are prepared to put in and what time and resources you have to realise your vision.

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