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Tips for Inventors

I just invented a brand new Dubenflotcher what do I do now?

Here are some questions to ask yourself and some tips to guide you on your way to the safe unveiling of your new product. We hope you find this list helpful. Please keep in mind that this list is not all inclusive and should not be used as a substitute for competent professional advice.

  • Is my product safe? Do I have ample instructions for safe operation? Can my product be used safely by children of certain age groups?
  • Does my product need to have the approval of any of the consumer watchdog agencies? For instance: If the product is electrical, can it cause a fire? Does it need to be approved by the Underwriters Laboratory?
  • Have you met with a Professional Engineer to approve your design or draw blueprints?
  • Have you met with an attorney and discussed safety, product liability, disclaimers and instructions, patent infringements, copyrights, trademarks, patents and any other issues that a new product may have?
  • Have you met with your insurance agent to make sure any existing and unknown liabilities will be covered and what is the total cost?
  • Have you met with an accountant? An accountant can set-up your books, and help you to determine your start-up costs and capital requirements by using industry standards such as those published in Robert Morris and Associates Comparative Financial Statements.
  • After meeting with your accountant and determining what it will cost to bring your product to market you need to meet with bankers or investors to arrange to get the required start-up capital in place.
  • Now that you are armed with the necessary figures you can write a comprehensive business plan detailing exactly how the business will work. Where will the raw materials come from? Where will the assembly take place? How will testing be performed? What will constitute an acceptable quality level? How will the product be packaged? How will the product be delivered? What is the time line between the time the product is ordered and the time it is delivered?. Will all of the above result in a profit? How long will it take the company to become profitable? Is profit sustainable? For how long? Using a spreadsheet, make a projected income statement, balance sheet and cash flow projection for years one to five. Additionally show how investors will be paid and how the complete operation will be funded. State your background knowledge in this field and your references and education similar to a resume. This is the bare minimum for any business plan.
  • Equally as important as the business plan is the marketing plan. The marketing plan should answer the following questions in depth:
    1. What is the product or service we are selling?
    2. Why would prospective customers purchase from us instead of our competitors? What do we offer that they don’t?.
    3. Who are our customers? Describe your customers using demographics, state: Their sex, age group, race, nationality, ethnic groups, their locations, their habits, anything that brings you closer to the bull’s eye of the target. This helps to prevent the shotgun approach to marketing.
    4. What is the best media to use to reach our audience? What periodicals do they read, what trade journals, what radio stations do they listen to, what TV shows do they watch.
    5. What is the total market value for all sales?
    6. What is the reasonable share of the market we can hope to capture: within a year, two years, five years, ten years?
    7. What are our Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats? This is known as SWOT Analysis. In other words, how can we out-smart the competition and what surprises might they have in store for us?
    8. What can we do to test market our product and evaluate the results of the testing before committing large dollar amounts?
    9. How will we measure the results of our advertising dollars to insure we are getting the biggest bang for our buck?

This is the absolute minimum you should have in your marketing plan. Some marketing plans for large corporations span hundreds of pages detailing various stages in series of different marketing strategies.

Ultimately you want some way to measure your progress and apply this progress to a pre-determined time line. All of these figures go hand and hand. It is simply not enough to say I made X dollars. You must also state how long it took you to do it, what are the net profits, are they sustainable, and for how long.

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