Turning your Idea into a Business: Before the Product Launch
By Michelle Collins | December 31, 2002
In previous columns we have talked about how you can bring your idea from a concept to a reality. At this point you're getting ready to execute your product launch. Herein lies the greatest challenge in actually getting your idea to market. At this point you should have an initial network of advisors, and possibly consultants who are prepared to help you achieve success.
Or maybe you've quietly tinkered away in your basement with your idea developing the perfect prototype, polishing off your business plan wondering where to go next. There are a variety of government sponsored assistance programs throughout the country aimed at helping people start a new business. These programs are offered at all levels of government so you don't necessarily have to seek out someone in Ottawa. Look for a small business or economic development centre in your own community.
Here are some other organizations that can provide help in your area of need:
Canadian Innovation Centre
Based in Waterloo, ON the Canadian Innovation Centre was established to help would-be inventors take their idea and see if there really is a market for it. Your idea or prototype will be evaluated using specific criteria and from there you will be given a recommendation to either proceed or stop developing the idea further.
National Research Council offers two programs that may be of interest to you.
- Industrial Research Assistance Program (IRAP)Sponsored by the National Research Council (NRC) this program can pick up where the Innovation Centre leaves off. In fact you can use IRAP whether you've been in business for one year or ten. Initially you will be connected with an Industrial Technology Advisor who will help you locate the expertise that you need.You can receive assistance in a variety of areas including technical expertise, marketing, and resources and facilities. The program also offers financial aid in the form of grants for small and large projects, and youth internships.
- Canadian Venture Capital Association
Perhaps you dream of taking your invention and turning it into a multi-million dollar corporation with stocks that are traded on the TSX. Accomplishing this usually means having to take on some investors whether they're your friends and family or through venture capitalists. Venture capital funds are always looking for new promising opportunities to invest in. You'll have to come up with a convincing pitch to catch the attention of these companies.
CVCA hold events throughout the year that allow you to network not only with funding companies, but also with other entrepreneurs building their own businesses. These events can range from educational seminars to golf tournaments.
Team Canada Inc.
Have you considered exporting your product to buyers around the world? Many small Canadian businesses have found great success in tapping into the international market. While you may be excited over the prospect of gaining customers in the world market, the process of exporting can be just as challenging and time consuming as establishing your business in the first place.The good news is that the federal government is a big supporter of export. They have established a network of 21 federal departments, known as Team Canada Inc., to help you with each stage of the process.
Other parts in this series:
Part 1 - Getting an idea and getting started.
Part 2 - Market research, prototypes and product evaluations.
Part 3 - Creating an effective business plan for your new product.
Part 4 - Before the product launch...
Part 5 - Protect your product with a patent.