I visited a Saturday morning market in Parys, Free State, while spending a weekend just outside the town in the country. This was a Saturday morning market that compares with the best. On display were various food products, arts and crafts, clothing and interior home accessories. The profile of the stall owners ranged from people in their early 20s right up to people in their mature years.
Let’s not kid ourselves, it takes a lot of energy to get to the level where you can put out your product for sale even to a Saturday morning market. These days Saturday morning markets are no longer jumble sales. They have become a place where finely hand-crafted products are for sale and where buyers are more discerning because they want quality as well as value for money. No one wants to buy something and end up with it at home broken or useless.
You may have an idea for a product or service but it is still not fully developed. An idea like an egg that’s not fully cooked is just an oozing mass of liquid. It’s got to get form. It’s got to be taken from a mere idea into a product that provides a benefit for others.
What are the key steps in product development? It begins with evaluation and testing. You would need to develop a prototype or sample product that you can show others and get feedback. This is an immediate form of evaluation that survey feedback or panel discussions will not give you about a concept or an idea. You’ve got to make the real thing and put it out there. A morning market or any other form of selling will give you an indication of whether you’ve hit on to something or whether you have to go back to the drawing board.
Say the sales start coming in, then what you do? This is where distribution channels are important. You could either sell your product through a retail store (not necessarily in a high-cost shopping centre), on the Internet or business-to-business, depending on the nature of your product. For example, a coffee roaster I met at the Saturday morning market sells his coffee to other businesses. He has worked to acquire a number of regular customers that use his product heavily and so he benefits from a steady stream of repeat orders. Yes, he may lose some of these larger customers but then he also gains new ones.
If you have an idea not yet fully developed, you may want to speak to someone on how you can develop it further, study some resources on product development or find it all in one place with a book called “Breakthrough Ideas”. This book offers the information to take your idea from conception through to product testing and eventual enterprise formation. For someone deciding to take the leap into starting something of their own it can save you time and money and help you avoid common business mistakes.
Every creativity guru out there has a different process or description for generating and developing new ideas. But which ones of them work? Do you have to play on all sorts of levels of creativity to come up with a viable business idea?
The latest process I saw was one that breaks down creativity into five levels:
– idea preparation
– idea generation
– idea development
– idea enhancement
– idea activation
If any of this makes you want to fall asleep, I don’t blame you. I am extremely wary of these so-called success systems that claim to be helpful but are not nearly as new as they make out to be or are just simply unclear and filled with impressive abstract terms. Continue reading “Which is your path to new business ideas?”
The owner of a small and innovative business came to me with a new business idea. He wanted to know whether it would stand up in his market. Instead of spending hours discussing his brilliant new idea I gave him a tool that he could use to assess the commercial potential of his idea. Since then he has done well with the new media service he developed and introduced.
A second entrepreneur who had success with an online business called me to discuss an idea for a new business on the Internet. Rather than debate the various strengths and weaknesses of his idea, I emailed him a tool to evaluate his idea. A few days later he called to say that he didn’t believe his new business idea in the health field was viable. He decided to move on and come up with a new business idea.
The new product development process is something that even the very largest of companies often don’t get right. They can afford to lose money especially in the early stages because they are taking bets on various products and services.
For a start-up or small business which wants to develop a new product or service a similar complex process will be faced. If it’s something simple that you are developing such as scented candles or low-sugar jam, you’ll have a relatively easy product development process ahead of you. But if it’s something that is more complex such as a special furniture items, software or food products for grocery stores, you will need to follow a more formal process for product development. Continue reading “Turning an idea into a product can be risky if you don’t know what you are doing”
How fortunate was King Arthur to process the legendary Excalibur sword attributed with magical powers to perform his gallant and noble work.
Arthur obtained the throne by pulling the sword from a stone, one legend goes. In another version, Arthur was given the Excalibur by the Lady of the Lake.
The Excalibur was no ordinary sword. In one tale the sword is said to have a design of two chimeras on the golden hilt. When the sword was unsheathed what was seen from the mouths of the two chimeras was “like two flames of fire, so dreadful that it was not easy for anyone to look at”.