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What are the first steps to developing my new idea into a business?

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Hatching a new idea is truly a great moment for any new inventor startup founder or entrepreneur. The excitement of it turning into a successful business that can allow you to be your own boss and gain financial independence is exhilarating. But to turn any idea into a thriving company requires many well thought out steps. These steps need to be taken in the beginning, will lay the foundation of what your business does, and how successful it will be later on in the development process. Here are the first steps to consider to get the ball rolling on your development:

  1. Document your idea on paper and file a provisional patent application.
    The USPTO changed to a first to file system in 2013. This means that the first inventor to file their application on an invention will have priority over the other inventors that file after. To ensure that the idea you hatched is protected in the market place, filing your intellectual property sooner rather than later is key. Provisional patent applications are inexpensive and allow you to obtain a priority date at the USPTO for your invention. Provisional patent applications have a 12 month term or in other words, you have 12 months before you file another provisional patent application, file a non-provisional patent application, or let the provisional patent application die. We encourage all entrepreneurs to file a provisional patent application even if you don’t think you need one. It is better to be safe and well prepared than sorry.
  2. Research the market
    After you have filed a provisional patent application the clock starts ticking before you need to file a non-provisional or utility patent application. In that 12 month term there are several steps that can be taken to reduce the risk for your new company and give you confidence that the idea is worth pursuing and investing time and money into. Researching the market is one of the best things you can do for a company. We say it all the time, designing a new product cannot be done in a vacuum. It has to be done with a customer centric focus so that way you are not building something that your potential customers don’t want. As entrepreneurs it is important to realize that product development is an iterative process that includes feedback from customers during the entire process. Finding out if there are competitors to your product, how customers purchase competing products, how much a customer is willing to spend, if people have been speaking about the problem you are solving, if there are regulations that apply to your product can provide you an understanding and direction of how to develop your new product idea and also save you time and capital.
  3. Build a team
    One of the more important steps to take when building a new company is building a great team that will work in unison toward turning that great new idea into a thriving company. Sometimes that team can be colleagues that share a particular viewpoint on the problem to be solved with your new idea, or people that are within your network that have always wanted to start a company but didn’t’ have an idea to start with. Building a team with trust at the center will help you propel the development process and also add diversity. Almost every angel or venture capitalist investor will want to see that you have a solid team if you will raise capital for your company.
  4. Write a business plan
    Writing a business plan can give you guidance and help you plan the milestones that you need to achieve in order to build your business. Remember that small baby steps get the job done. A business plan can also be used to help you raise capital and will help you think of any risks or challenges that may arise as you build your business. It is important to realize that you don’t need a 50 to 100 page business plan when you are starting out. Sometimes a simple power point presentation will help you organize the several moving parts of a business, help your management team execute what needs to be done, and give you an understanding of the financials of your business. A 50-100 page business plan can come at a later date where you need to raise significant capital for your company. For now and in the beginning stages, your focus should be on planning effectively, understanding your market, and getting things ready to build your product. It can be very difficult to stay on track or efficiently develop a product without having gone through the motions of writing a business plan and thinking through the necessary steps to take. Necessary steps can mean anything from securing permits, understanding the regulations behind your product, understanding how the product can be made, how much it will cost to develop and launch the product, strategize on launching the product into the market, or how much it will cost to make the product.
  5. Build your product
    It goes without saying, you can’t sell something you don’t have. Building your product is just that. There are some startups such as medical devices or biotechnology that require a lot more time and capital to build and launch a product of course, but the ball needs to get rolling somehow. The first stages can be focused on making sure the product will work. In our line of work everything looks great on paper, until you actually and physically build it. Seeing a completed proto-type and engaging with your customers along this process can give you a good understanding of how it should be built and how much you can really sell your product for. More importantly a demonstration is worth a thousand words. In the scenario that you need to raise money to launch your product sometimes it is better for the investor to see your physical product so they can understand what it does.

Starting a new company has many steps and milestones that need to be completed before selling your product. Always remember our infamous line “Designing a product cannot be done in a vacuum”. As you go through the motions of building a company always remember that a customer centric focus on building the product is key to ensuring your product will sell and saving you time and money.

Contact us today and tell us about your new company idea!