Whether you have a great idea for a new product or service, one of the first things you must do is find out if your idea is original – and if not, come up with a compelling reason as to why your approach is better – and then decide if your idea has commercial viability.
The good news is, there’s a lot of fairly quick and easy ways to get the answers you want. From performing a swift Google search, through to looking up existing patents in Australia and carrying out market research. Much of this information is freely available online so you have nothing to lose.
By doing research early, this can help you reveal golden opportunities in the marketplace, gain real insight into the needs and wants of your potential customers, and craft a compelling USP (Unique Selling Proposition) that will make you stand out from the rest.
Before we begin, keep this in mind: All hope is not lost if you find out your idea is not original.
As you will soon discover, there are many ways to capitalise on the success of an existing idea and modify or improve it in ways to make it viable.
To start with, jump onto everyone’s favourite search engine…
Do a quick Google search
As you conduct research online, you should have a clear goal in mind. Obviously, you want to know if your idea is original, but there are other questions you should try to answer as well, such as:
- Has your idea been trademarked (if you have a product name) or patented either in Australia or overseas?
- Do you have any existing competitors in Australia or overseas? If so, are they successful?
- Are there people online who seem to show a genuine interest in your idea (i.e. community forums, social media groups)? If not, are they even aware such an idea exists?
- Can you identify a target market who is most likely to benefit from your idea?
- Are your potential customers willing to pay money for your idea?
Don’t worry if you cannot answer all of these questions right now. Not every protected idea will be publicly available online. Simply try to answer as many questions as possible. The most important is to find out whether your idea is original, and if it has been trademarked or patented.
Once you’ve completed your online research, you will reach one of two possible outcomes:
Yes. Your idea is original
This means no one has yet trademarked or patented your idea (both in Australia and overseas) and you have no competitors in your field.
At first, you may be thrilled to know you are first-to-market. You have an invaluable opportunity to shape a new market and become a major player in your field. So you could be in a very lucrative position.
On the other hand, it’s worth taking a step back and asking yourself: why has no one explored your idea before? Is the idea based on a new or emerging method, concept, or technology? In this case, you could be an early adopter. Or is there a chance the idea may be poorly received and is something people are not willing to pay for?
To answer these questions, you need feedback from your potential customers. You can start by sharing your idea with close family and friends and see what they think. Just keep in mind their opinion may be biased so as not to hurt your feelings, and they may not represent your target audience either.
For these reasons, consider enlisting the help of a market research company. By taking the time to understand your business idea, they can help you collect valuable feedback from your potential customers – in the form of a targeted online survey questionnaire – and help you make sense of the data. This way, you will know if your idea has commercial viability, and how you should proceed.
Better still, the entire market research process is strictly confidential. So the sensitive data that surrounds your idea will remain protected.
Sorry. Your idea already exists
If there are similar products or services on the market, you need to come up with a unique way to present your idea in a manner that will help customers choose you over an established competitor.
There are many ways to modify or improve an existing idea. Your approach may be better because you can:
- Provide better customer service
- Sell at a lower price
- Deliver faster results
- Use higher quality materials, parts, or components
- Solve a problem your competitors currently do not, or
- Target a different demographic, industry, or location
Again, market research will help you assess the viability of your idea. The key difference here is that you already know the market is receptive to the initial idea, as there are competitors on the market. So you may not need to worry about explaining a new concept or idea to an unsuspecting crowd.
Instead, you can use market research to ask specific questions about your audience, identify your competitors, and uncover new business opportunities. You can then use this information to craft a compelling USP that will help you stand out from the rest. Thus, giving you a strong competitive edge.
Moving your idea forward
Regardless of whether your idea is original or not, if you decide to proceed with your start-up idea, it’s highly recommended you surround yourself with people who understand your vision and can help you get there. After all, starting a new venture in unfamiliar territory can feel a bit lonely.
By getting valuable advice and support from experts you can trust, this will give you the confidence to realise the full potential of your idea.
Do you have more questions?
This blog expands on chapter 1 of the 10 Vital Questions Guide. You can download the Guide here for free