I have been helping people with great ideas bring their ideas to market for years now. I have done it within established companies, I have done it within a design house and I have done it as a business. In each of these roles I have seen the following mistakes being made:
1. Focusing on the product and not the market
2. The “I invented it” syndrome
3. Not testing their products
4. Not documenting their ideas properly
5. Going it alone
Just one of these mistakes can cause problems, but if you have a few of them, then failure is a dead certainty. From what I have seen, if you avoid these mistakes, then not only will you have success, but you will also not lose money chasing a bad idea. I will now talk about each issue and what you can do to avoid them.
Focusing on the products and not the market
This is a common issue with engineers and probably most inventors. We get so caught up in the product that we think others should want it. We then try really hard to sell the product to a market that doesn’t want it.
The “I invented it” syndrome
Inventors love their ideas. They love them so much that they think it is the best as it is. I came across this when I was working as an engineer in the automotive industry. At least people there had the ability to see that they were persuaded by it. They would always yield to objective data, but still hope their idea would be found to be best. Now that I also lecture engineering design, invent idea I tell my students that it is not their job to come up with the best idea. It is their job to ensure that the best idea is implemented. Focus on making the product best for the person using it. As long as it’s your product, you will get the benefit.
Not testing ideas
Ideas need to be tested in two ways. You need to make sure that they work and you need to make sure that people want them. The second is related to the first point. However, both can be dealt with using a prototype. Build a basic prototype of your product to see that it works. Then show it to some people (get and NDA if you need to protect an idea). Ask these people what they think of it (remembering the “I invented it” syndrome) and use that to gauge the value of your product. You can also ask them how much they would pay for it – even offer to sell it to them. Take it to distributors and ask them if they would want to distribute it. Ask them how many they would buy and what they would pay for it. Many inventors forget to talk to distributors. If you’re an inventor, then you might not be a good salesman so working with such people can help.
Not documenting their ideas
This is a bit like not testing your ideas. If you go through the process of getting a proper 3D model of your idea made, then you can test the idea before you spend money making it. It might cost you to pay someone to do this, but it’s worth it. It is so much easier to fix issues on the computer than making a new prototype. You can also use videos and images from 3D files to test ideas with end users and distributors. This can be much cheaper than prototypes and faster. The other issue is that many manufacturers simply will not quote without 3D files. They think that you are not serious invent idea if you do not have them. I am sure you can imagine how many people come to them wasting their time with ideas only partly formed and not fully documented. They need to be convinced that you are serious. Professional documentation will show this. If you’re tight on money, then try some freelance website or see if you can find an engineering student who can do it for cheap.
Going it alone
This is related to the second point, but it relates to the others. Because many inventors want to go it alone, they are not forced to deal with the other issues. If you can get over wanting to control your perfect invention and work with another person, then you will get another perspective. Also, to convince this person you will need to document your idea sufficiently well and probably change it to make it into something that this person thinks will sell.
If you do try to avoid most of the above then you will see more success. However, you might also find that you produce fewer ideas. When you test your ideas properly, you will often find that it is not as good as you though. But that’s better than wasting money on it.
The GYSMC team is a multi national group of experienced product development engineers that are dedicated to helping people get their products and inventions made in China.
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