How to develop your idea

You know you’ve got a great idea but you’re not sure how to exploit its full potential. You’re not alone. So, to support your creative endeavours, here are some tips to help you develop your ideas and get them off the drawing board and onto the boardroom table or in front of a potential funder to expand its reach.

1. Is it original?

Before you decide to develop your idea, you need to ensure your concept is truly original. If other similar products or services are already available, your idea will be significantly less appealing to investors. Be exhaustive with your research. Search every nook and cranny and study your market closely, if there’s a gap, are you able to fill it? Decide early on whether you want to innovate with a new concept or improve on an existing one, and plan your approach accordingly.

2. Expand your thinking

It doesn’t matter if your idea came to you in a sudden flash of inspiration or at the end of a long period of intense market research. No concept arrives fully-formed. Once you’ve seen the big picture you need to start thinking about the fine detail that will turn that vision into a reality. What steps do you need to take to bring your idea to life? Work backwards and try to establish a supply chain. What about manpower and resources? This is the time to really dig into the nitty gritty of your idea and think carefully about whether it’s a viable prospect.

3. Create your prototype

Once your idea starts to take shape, the next step is to bring all those sketches, doodles and bullet points to life and create a prototype of your product as a proof of concept. Not only is it a huge morale boost to finally have a physical product to show for all of your hard work, it’s also the best way to identify and iron out any hidden flaws. It’s rare indeed to get everything right first time. Be ready to develop a “beta version’ of your prototype.

4. Consult an expert

If you’re still unsure about the viability of your idea or find yourself struggling with what to do next, consider hiring a professional advisor or consultant for some impartial advice. If you’re working solo or in a very small team it can be easy to succumb to “group think” and tunnel vision. Being deeply embedded in a project doesn’t make you immune to error. Maybe you can’t see the wood for the trees and are overlooking flaws that would be obvious to an outsider. Gaining a fresh perspective can also provide a vital shot in the arm for you if you’re starting to feel a little burnt out.
 
If your idea is more commercially-focused, you may also want to consider conducting a consumer survey and measuring feedback. This can allow you to gauge customers’ first impressions and tweak your marketing strategy before you pitch it. Are you sure there’s a lasting appetite for your solution? There may be a gap in the market, but is there a market in the gap?

If you’ve got an innovative idea and want to put some of the advice above into practice, why not make your pitch to us at Water Plus, for the chance to win £5,000. The competition is looking for a great idea or product to help businesses and the public sector reduce costs or save money by using less natural resources. It’s open to start-up companies, universities, inventors and creative thinkers and established product-creators.

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