Businesses which do not continually evolve stagnate and struggle, possibly eventually failing. Think of Kodak and the digital camera fail or Blockbuster’s decision not to buy Netflix. As a company you need to be continually open to the changing needs of your customers and evolution of your sector.
Developing new products and services will help you sell more to existing customers and attract new customers. It’s important to do the right research before you start developing a product, you don’t want to spend time, money and resources on developing something your customers aren’t interested in.
So talk to your existing and potential customers, find out what their problems or sticking points are and think about whether you have a solution.
Create a Prototype
If you’re developing a product a prototype will help you take the next step, Chimney Sweep used the prototype from BEC Fab Lab as part of their development. Test the prototype out with customers, ask them what they think of it and how much they’d be willing to pay for it. This will give you the information you need to decide if developing the product is financially viable.
Throughout the development phase think about whether what you’re offering brings something new and better to the market. Make sure you’re not solving a problem that doesn’t really exist for your customers.
If you develop a new product consider whether you need to protect it via trademark, copyright or intellectual property protection.
You may not need to develop something new yourself, perhaps there’s a product available in another country which could add to your portfolio? There’s help available if you wish to import.
If you’re in a service industry think about new services in the same way a manufaturer would think about new products, look for your customers problems and think about solutions.
Amazon are very successful at this and were the first to offer readily accessible cloud services for example.
Harnessing the innovative potential locked in your business and learning how to innovate through new creative skills, know how and use of design is one way to innovate.
The First Steps in Developing New Products and Services
Learning to think creatively opens up new opportunities and ideas for a business and is the first step in developing new products or services.
This combined with the right processes and tools, enables you to evaluate how your business can best approach innovation, including when to access external expertise.
You need to understand the potential market size and research demand for your product or service. If you don’t, it could mean spending time and money developing something that simply doesn’t have a market.
If the research suggests that there’s a market for your new idea then you need to think about financing the development.
There are innovation tax incentives which can help you, and our advisors may be able to help you access national or local funding.
Managing the Processs
Managing new opportunities for products or services needs careful planning and controls.
You may need to develop your processes further or adopt best practice to improve your chance of success and look at harnessing the potential of innovative design.
When you develop or invent something new, you need to consider Intellectual Property (IP) from the beginning as it can protect you and increase the value of your innovation.
There are various forms of protection, such as Patents and Trade Marks, which can help you to protect your product, process or service. The value of IP, once identified and commercialised, can be added to your balance sheet.
Technical or commercial problems can delay or block business innovation, but it’s often the culture of a business that limits its ability to create.
Develop a creative internal culture where all team members continually look for opportunities to improve and create new products and services.