The Steps From Product Idea to Product Success

Michelangelo once said that his statue of David was embedded in the block of marble and he merely chipped away the edges to reveal it. Is your product idea inside your mind just waiting to come alive? Or, is your product already formed and you need only to smooth out the edges?

Using my Market-Step process your idea will come to life as we progress in the following steps from idea to launch.

TO SELF-MARKET

1. Market Evaluation

2. Concept Evaluation

3. Prototype Creation and Evaluation

4. Patent Decision

5. Planning

6. Development

7. Product Launch

TO SELL OR LICENSE TO A COMPANY

1. Market Evaluation

2. Concept Evaluation

3. Prototype Creation and Evaluation

4. Patent Filing

5. Product Proposal

6. Company Search

7. Negotiate Deal

GETTING STARTED

* Protect Your Idea

When you have an idea, you need to protect it. The first line of defense is to set the date of conception. Start by documenting your idea in an inventor’s notebook, but don’t file a patent until you evaluate its marketability.

MARKET RESEARCH AND EVALUATION

* STEP 1: Market Evaluation

Start the Market-Step process by evaluating the marketability of your invention. With a quick evaluation of the market, you screen out bad ideas before wasting time and money. Your invention is marketable when it solves a problem, meets a need or want, overcomes competition (products and patents), and generates a profit.

* STEP 2: Concept Evaluation

The second step of the Market-Step process is to determine if people like your invention concept. A concept evaluation is an easy-to-use survey method you can create yourself. The results provide you with valuable feedback so you have a better feel whether to proceed with your invention. In addition, a concept evaluation allows people an opportunity to provide helpful suggestions and advice.

* STEP 3: Prototype Evaluation

The third step is to create a prototype and have an evaluation. A prototype can be a physical model, detailed drawing, or animation. With a prototype, you obtain opinions to make sure you’re on the right track. In addition, a prototype evaluation helps you uncover any necessary feature changes before moving onto the next stage.

Marketable? After each of the first three steps, you need to review the evaluation results to determine if your invention is marketable. If results are encouraging, advance to the next step. If results are mixed, you might need to go back and revise your idea and re-test. If results are discouraging, revise the invention or cancel the project entirely to save yourself time and money and move on to your next idea.

GOING FORWARD

Now that you have an overview of the steps, my book Product Idea to Product Success takes you through the details of the Market-Step process, one step at a time.

Why an Integrated Workplace Safety and Wellness Program Is Best

Employees are a business’s most valuable asset and keeping them safe and healthy should be a priority for any company. Many businesses have a workplace safety program and a wellness program, but the two programs operate independently of one another – but should they? There are some compelling reasons to integrate the two so that employees can benefit from a more global, holistic approach to staying safe and healthy on the job.

To adequately address health and safety issues, companies need to look not only at whether an employee is performing their job safely but whether they’re healthy and fit enough to do their job without a high risk of injury. Issues like obesity, poor physical fitness and inadequate nutrition make it harder for employees to carry out certain tasks in the workplace.

The link between health and safety

According to research published in the American Journal of Public Health, people who are obese are at higher risk for occupational health issues and injuries. When obese staff are exposed to chemicals on the job, they’re at higher risk for occupational asthma and heart and lung issues compared to a non-obese person. They’re also at greater risk for ergonomic issues and bio-mechanical problems including carpal tunnel syndrome. If companies focus on workplace safety without addressing the obesity issue, the bigger problem remains. A unified approach that integrates occupational safety measures with wellness initiatives that emphasize good nutrition and weight control provides a more effective solution to the problem.

There’s also the issue of back injuries. Back injuries are one of the most common workplace safety issues, and people who are overweight and physically unfit are at higher risk for injuring their back on the job. Most back injuries occur as a result of lifting objects at work and ergonomic issues. Although it’s not possible to prevent all work-related back problems, integrating wellness with safety by emphasizing regular exercise to strengthen muscles in the lower back can reduce back injuries. Integrating workplace safety and wellness offers a more well-rounded approach to preventing back injuries.

What part does wellness play in safety? Wellness programs that focus on stress reduction, smoking cessation and alcohol and drug-related issues are also important for workplace safety. According to a study published in a Canadian publication called The Daily, smokers are at greater risk for being injured at work compared to non-smokers. Among women, the risk was nearly double. Stress does more than just affect employees psychologically – it increases their risk of being injured on the job. Employees who are under stress at home or at work are distracted and less able to focus on doing their job safely. Integrating stress management into a workplace safety program can help reduce the number of injuries and motivate employees to be more productive. Nutrition is another factor that a workplace safety and wellness program should address. Employees who start their day with only a cup of coffee are more prone to blood sugar drops that can lead to workplace injuries. Good nutrition is an integral part of any safety program.

There’s another benefit of merging wellness and workplace safety. Employees are less likely to participate in programs that address workplace hazards than they are wellness programs that focus on personal benefits. Integrating the two makes it more likely that employees will take part.

The bottom line

Combining workplace safety with wellness has a number of benefits for both employees and employers. Most importantly, it helps to create a safer, healthier and more productive workplace – and that’s something every company should strive for.

Start Up Businesses – Keeping on Track For Launch

I’ve been lucky (or maybe unlucky) enough to be involved with several start up organisations over the years. All of them have successfully launched and all except one is still in place, the other changed their area of operations and moved countries.

Getting to launch however can be a nightmare, you have a new team at senior level undergoing the usual storming, forming, norming and performing with all the tension that brings, while you also need to develop a company culture and bring your product or service to market as quickly as possible so you can start earning as well as spending.

In my experience there are a few key factors that determine the fastest path and the most complete launch experience:

Make a plan – planning is almost always lacking in these environments, people’s enthusiasm for the project leads to an endless string of meetings in which nothing is ever decided or agreed upon. All of this could be avoided by having a plan, your first key hires must be capable of putting together a high level project plan of how they will deliver your launch.

This should include a breakdown of all essential items and “nice to have” items too. Don’t spend forever debating the plans and involving everyone in the building, if you’ve chosen someone to lead an area – let them lead. Make sure their plan specifies the resources required and timescales (or it isn’t a plan) and all objectives covered in the plan are measurable and specific.

Once you have all the plans – eliminate the “nice to haves”. That’s right, get rid of them – if you find someone completes their “essential” plan faster than expected then allow them to put “nice to haves” back in the process. But it is far more important to get to a launch and start earning revenue, than it is to polish everything to absolute perfection (the exception to this being very high-end brand launches).

Stick to the plan and hold people accountable for it, but ensure you give them the authority to deliver their plan. The next major failing is that no-one looks at their plans once they’re in place, they allow their enthusiasm to distract them and again they end up in meetings that last all day and achieve nothing.

By all means take a consultative approach but make sure that you have only a single decision maker who has the authority to push through work and keep it on track. Failing to do this will leave your business full of very tired committees who don’t deliver on any objective but appear to be working very hard indeed.

When things fall apart, don’t play the blame game. Unless someone is consistently unable to perform, don’t start witch hunts and punishment sessions. It is perfectly normal in start up situations for things to go wrong, and for vital data for specific areas not to be captured, and so on…

It really doesn’t matter how you got to the point of failure, what matters is how you will fix the problem and move on as fast as possible to recover the lost ground. Meetings that focus on finger pointing and evasion of responsibility simply don’t help with this process at all.

However if someone significantly underperforms on a regular basis, get rid of them as fast as possible. Start up situations do not allow for carrying dead weight, and many people who are perfectly competent in established organisations are a disaster when they realise they can’t rely on process and procedures already in place. So show them the door, gently and wish them luck but get someone in who can deliver.

Don’t overuse consultants. Want to upset your entire team? Hire a group of consultants on ridiculous rates to cover projects where the expertise is already available in house. There are times when consultants make perfect sense, but you should have a firm brief for them, and hold them to delivery.

Finally, communicate your successes. Start up businesses are hard work, people work long hours and push to deliver, so when they do you must acknowledge that and allow people to celebrate a little.

Building a company from scratch is a demanding process, one that can be made much easier by having a plan, sticking to it, learning from mistakes and focusing on keeping people happy in their environment. It will save you time, money and effort and bring you to a successful launch.