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Turning your Idea into a Business: Getting an Idea and Getting Started

By Michelle Collins |

Being a successful inventor - inventing an innovative new product, bringing it to market, and earning untold riches - is a dream that many Canadians share.

To the unseasoned entrepreneur, coming up with the innovative idea may seem like the hardest part of this dream. Not so. Once you have a great new idea, the hard part lies in realizing the potential of your vision. In this five-part series we explore how Canadian inventors can turn their idea into a money making venture.

First, understand yourself and what you want
The process of turning a concept into a commercialized product is quite complex. Think of it as a long journey or quest. Before getting started it's important to define your goals and visualize your final destination. It's time to ask yourself some important questions.

Where do you want to be in 5 years? Ten years? What are you willing to give up in order to bring your idea to market? Do you want to sell your idea or develop it yourself? Will you need partners and financiers, or is this something you can develop on your own? Questions like these will help you set goals and define your final destination.

You may be anxious to get the real work underway, but it's important that you don't rush through this critical stage. Not everyone is suited to be an entrepreneur. And not everyone has the resources that are required to bring even the greatest idea to market. Objective, honest self-analysis can help you make a wise decision about the best role for you to play in the commercialization of your idea.

Try some online personality tests
While no test is going to give you a complete picture of yourself, there are several online tests that can help you better understand yourself. Even the smallest insight may help, regardless of whether you ultimately decide to move your idea along or not.

Keirsey Temperament Sorter
This variation on the Meyers-Briggs test takes about 30 minutes to complete. To get useful information it's important to be honest and answer the questions as who you really are, not the ideals you respect.

Entrepreneurial Self-Assessment
Entrepreneurial Self-Assessment
One of the better assessment tests; takes a bit of time to do but it's worth it.

The Entrepreneur Test
A simplistic test that will help weed out some of the most obvious non-entrepreneurial types.

Do a SWOT analysis
You may have heard of the SWOT analysis, which examines the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats of a business. When starting a business this is a valuable tool to use – on yourself.

Using two blank sheets of paper, drawn a line down the centre of each page. On the first page label the first column strengths, the second weaknesses. One the second page label the first column opportunities, the second threats. Include tasks that you really enjoy doing, and those that you actively avoid.

Now it's time to brainstorm. Starting with the first page, brainstorm a list of your strengths and weaknesses, adding these in the appropriate columns. Don't feel the need to rush through this exercise; add new things as you think of them.

Once you are satisfied that you have a reasonably comprehensive list, take some time to think them over. While you are doing this, ask yourself what opportunities and threats exist as a result. After taking some time to think things over, you can start to create your list of opportunities and threats on the second page.

At this point you have a document that will pinpoint the areas that would be worth pursing, along with those that you are best to avoid. Now evaluate your business idea again, bearing these characteristics in mind.

Starting a business is a significant challenge. Evaluating yourself takes time, but it is better to decide your suitability now rather than finding out that you've chosen the wrong career path when it's too late to turn back.

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.

Canadian, Eh!

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