Coffee Break

Can You Get That Idea Off The Drawing Board?

If you’re a creative type of person, your mind might be full of wonderful ideas and inventions. But without a strong and clear plan of action, those incredible concepts might never make it out of your sketchbook or off the drawing board. So how can you make sure that all that work you’ve put in so far results in your success somewhere down the line? You’ve got to turn that idea into a real product that somebody wants to buy. Here’s how:


You need to give your ideas time to ferment, stew, develop, and form. That’s fine. But if you don’t help that process along by allocating a reasonable block of time to the task, it might never happen. Book some leave and commit that time to rounding out your concepts into something you can develop into a working product. If you need more time, schedule a couple of hours every evening and weekend until you have it complete.

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As you dedicate your schedule to developing your ideas, even more ideas will come. Working on one project can often spark your creativity into action. That’s fine. Jot down the ones that feel worth investing in, but put them aside for now. Of course, if the ideas refine your current product, then they are worth putting in the pot right now. Don’t be afraid to ask others for their ideas about your concept. You might find new uses, new ways of making it work, or even a whole new customer type you hadn’t conceived of before.


Developing your product is like filling in the outline of a story. Now is the time to figure out what it takes to make your idea into a fully functional product. Think about the interface and any inputs and outputs it’s likely to need. Don’t forget to check local regulations or guidelines if your product is electrical or engineered.

Make It Work

You will need quite a few components to make your sketches become a real life working product. Websites like can be quite handy when you’re trying to source the items you need. Putting it together may require skills you haven’t yet acquired. Consult those in the know, hire some help, or take on some extra training so you can do what needs to be done to prove your drawings really do work.


Now you have some sort of prototype, you can apply for funding to help cover the cost of mass producing the item. This is unlikely to be achieved in your home garage, so you also need to source a partner firm that can build your product for you. Crowdfunding or government grants are the most common ways to find financial support. It’s rare for banks to lend you money for this kind of project. Do you have savings or can you sell anything that will help raise the cash you need?

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Pre-orders are a big part of the funding process. Of course, nobody will pre-order your product if they haven’t seen a fully working product. They need to know that your item can help them solve a problem they have. This is the time to work hard on those promotional materials and advertising campaigns that will explain the what and the why of your project. Explain how it works and why it is so effective at providing the solution it offers. Set a price for pre-order that the customer would expect to pay. Shoot too low, and they may not trust it’s genuine or effective. Ask for too much money, and customers simply won’t be able to afford it.


By now, you’ve started to build all the pre-ordered products. You can start to consider the types of promotions you will need to run for customers that haven’t yet heard of your or your product. Price is usually a good place to start. Use a focus group to discuss the perceived monetary value of your product and the benefits it offers. It’s important to consider this data as well as your desired profit margins. Now you can choose to promote your product at a price that is lower. Always give the RRP of your product. You are sometimes required, by law, to sell your product at that price for a minimum period of time too.

Sales Success

As the orders start to flood in, you can pat yourself on the back for a job well done. You finally got those ideas off the paper and onto the shelves. Now all you need to do is consider what your follow-up project will be!