How to turn an idea into an innovation

So you have a creative idea. Great! You might be sitting on a gold mine. So… now what? What’s next? How do you get your original insight to work for you? In this article I share 6 steps that help to transform a creative idea into a business idea, and make it profitable.

1 ) Ask customers
First explore if there is a real demand for your idea. Too often people are putting time and effort into an idea that nobody really cares about. If you are wondering if you stumbled upon something valuable, ask (potential) customers. In the end they are the ones that will determine your success.

If you already have customers check if they are willing to pay for your new product or service. If they do see value in your idea, try to figure out why they like it. Never assume. Always double check. Sometimes customers like your new idea for a different reason than you might expect. They might even help you to develop a better proposition.

Never talk about money, instead talk about value. What do your customers gain from your idea? What problems does your idea solve? What value does it create for them? Let your customers do the talking. Don’t try to sell them anything, just investigate if there is a need for your idea.

If you don’t have customers, try a different approach. You could for example set up a Google ad campaign or use crowd funding to check if there is a demand for your product or service.

2 ) Build a prototype
An idea is nothing. Before you do anything else, make your idea tangible. Ideas should be made concrete right away. The reason why ideas almost never see the light of day is because they are kept in the mind of it’s creator. Don’t be shy. Give your idea a name and a face. Make a drawing, create a storyboard, use role-play, write a script, create a video etc. Use clay, tape, paint, paper, Lego bricks, whatever you can get your hands on.

Even the most abstract concepts can be made concrete. Don’t fall in love with vagueness. If you want to be an innovator, learn to make things visual. Great ideas are like legendary stories, their synopsis can be explained in only one or two sentences and often even in one key visual.

3 ) Share your idea
Since you now have developed a prototype, it’s time to put your idea to the test. Share it with the world. Yes, people will laugh at it, and they probably will make fun of it. However, this will only make your ugly baby stronger. No idea is born perfect. Don’t hide it simply because it’s too fragile. Put it out there and collect feedback. How can you make it stronger? What is good about this idea? What can you add to it? What can you remove? How are people responding to it? What do they like or hate about it? How are they interacting with it? Collect feedback and go back to the drawing board.

4 ) Develop an MVP
Prototyping is a great method to explain an idea. It also allows you to collect feedback and might lead to great ambassadors. However, usually you’ll need to take your idea one step further to earn money with it. Working towards a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) is a great way to develop something valuable with minimal resources. What’s the minimum your customers are willing to pay for? What’s the simplest version of your idea that you can charge people for?

Reid Hoffman, the founder of LinkedIn, once said: “If you’re not embarrassed by the first version of your product, you’ve launched too late”.

5 ) Use a Business Model canvas
The business model canvas has become quite trendy and not without reason. It’s a great tool to make your entire business clear in one single ‘slide’. The canvas helps to bring clarity to the abstract part that is the business side of an idea. The method exists out of 9 building blocks that you can use to get a better understanding of the potential of your idea.

Start by defining your customer segments. Map out who you want to serve and what their needs are. Who are they and what’s missing in their lives?

Go back to your idea. What is the value proposition? What added value does it deliver? What is it’s unique selling point? What makes your idea so different?

All 9 steps are explained on the business model canvas. The first two steps that I just described are crucial for your ideation and proposition and have their own canvas. Try to generate  as many business model canvasses as possible. Try to find several ways in which your idea can earn you money. (Sell data, collaborate with other companies, use it as a lead-generator etc.)

6 ) Develop a product roadmap
Always think ahead and consider what the next versions of your idea might look like. What’s your ambition and vision? What is the potential of your idea? If you want to sell your idea to your customers, your CEO or your team, make sure that you can paint a vivid picture of where you are going.

Think in versions and in results. Always measure your actions. Name every new version, give it a deadline, describe it’s new features, define what you want to achieve and define how you are going to measure it’s success.

Work agile and keep your eye at the horizon. Know where you’re going. Or to use the words of adman Paul Arden; “Without having a goal, it’s difficult to score.”

 

Do you want to know more about how to innovate? Don’t hesitate to contact me. You can reach me via jeroen@hatrabbits.com or you can call me on 010 30 70 534.

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Showing 2 comments
  • Georg Papp
    Reply

    Dear Sirs
    All your advice’s are logical and each of them makes sense .
    But , no offense , why are you convinced that someone who can see ( some) problem ,
    imagine the IDEA which resolves , mentioned , make a detail drawing … can not “feel”
    steps that you encountered ?
    Prototype ! Which can cost an serious amount ? Or , second serious problem , patent protection .
    Also , nice money pile .
    Well , that was my expectation when I opened your site .
    Can you help me ? Like , info about any Intellectual Property Law Firm which could do
    The Idea (Patent ) protection on percentage level ( of Idea market value ) instead charge ? If such way
    doing business exist , in law world ?
    Thank you , in advance
    P. s. I must repeat : No offense , I just tried to be helpful and honest .
    Greetings G . Papp

  • Jeroen de Ruijter
    Reply

    No offence taken! Thank you for your comment and honest feedback. If I understand you correctly, you are worried about some of the steps being quite costly. You should realise however, that this doesn’t have to be the case. A prototype can be rather simple and cheap. All it is designed to do is investigate whether the assumptions you made are right (how does the target audience react to it, does it work etc.) I wrote some articles on prototyping that include some cheap tools you might want to check out:
    https://hatrabbits.com/3-simple-steps-to-build-a-remarkable-prototype/
    https://hatrabbits.com/tools-for-rapid-prototyping/

    When it comes to patenting, it’s worth considering whether this is the way to go. If you’ve come up with something so clever that others will not easily figure out how it works, you might actually be better off keeping it a secret. Be aware that patenting means making the workings of your invention public (so other people can secretly copy your idea).

    P.s. appologies for the late reply, I hadn’t noticed your comment before.

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When developing a new product, figure out how it will be used (vragen, observeren en ervaren