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You have a game-changing invention that you want to launch – with a bit of careful planning, collaboration and determination, your stroke of genius could be up and running before you know it.
Here are 10 tips to successfully bring your product to the market.
1. Love what you’re doing
It’s easier if you believe in what you’re doing. I think that if we hadn’t honestly believed that the neighbour-to-neighbour car-sharing platform we were creating was going to be good for people and the planet, it would have been really tempting to give up in those early days. I was looking to start a new business that had a positive impact on the environment. The overproduction and overuse of cars is a big part of that problem, so letting people share existing cars is something I and the team are really passionate about.
2. Don’t be risk averse
Being a small business owner comes with a certain amount of risk, and the odds of making millions from a first invention aren’t high – but if you’re onto a winning idea there’s no point holding back and missing out on a golden opportunity. When you’re starting to get a new concept off the ground, you’re always going to have people in your ear saying ‘this is never going to work’. They’re often the people who care about you and don’t want to see you fail.
3. Start small, fail small
My advice is to start small, test your idea thoroughly, and get a solid product before you try to grow.
People say you shouldn’t work with your friends. I think that if you find people you can trust then 100 per cent work with them – that saves a lot of your time and energy. Of course you want to have someone with complementary skills to yours. My partner and co-founder, Dave Trumbull, is brilliant on the IT and finance side of things, which lets me focus on the business aspects like capital raising and strategy.
5. Don’t underestimate the difficulty of raising capital
When we started out everyone told us that you can’t raise capital in Australia – we’ve proved that’s not true. But it doesn’t make it easy either. Raising capital took 70 per cent of my time for nearly a year – it takes a massive investment of your time and a really thick skin.
6. Empower your team
We’re on a mission to dramatically change the way people think about cars. The way it is now – with a car to every person, most of them sitting unused for 96 per cent of the time – is just crazy. We’re constantly working, testing and trying new ways of doing things and we like to have people on the team who feel the same, who feel really connected with our mission.
7. Get your systems right
While a lot of businesses are saving money by going offshore with their development, we made a conscious decision to have a wholly on-shore team. Easy to use, efficient technology is a key component of our business and we also wanted to harness the power of team dynamics, company culture, values and passion for the quality of the end-product.
8. Keep in touch with your investors
Whenever you meet someone, you should keep in touch with them. Keep in touch with them once every few months and then tell them what your goals are and show them that you’re achieving them. There are business owners who take investors’ money but they don’t keep in touch, but when I come to do a capital raise I’ve got this good group of people who I’ve kept in touch with over a period of time. I let them know we can hit our goals and we’re moving forward.
9. Always keep an eye on the horizon
If you’re working on a new idea, chances are someone else has had that idea and even newer ones. Technology is changing so rapidly that whatever your concept is – even if you’re disrupting a big established market – someone is likely to come along and disrupt you, too. Don’t be an ostrich, head down in your own business and unaware of what’s happening in your industry and the wider world.
10. Don’t give up
If you’re doing this for the money, then when times are tough other people’s doubts might set in, and you’ll be inclined to give up. If you’re doing it because you really believe in it and love your project, then you will have the commitment to keep going.