Whether you are relaunching your professional life as an entrepreneur or you are an experienced business owner, just about every competent entrepreneur understands that new and innovative products and services are the lifeblood of any small business. It doesn’t matter if you’re launching your business based on a completely new product or service or offering an existing product or service in a new or innovative way, you simply can’t offer the exact same product or service as your competitors and hope to succeed.

Should You Invest In Your Idea?

Between the truly groundbreaking new products and services coming out of the technology sector, including Virtual Reality systems and self-driving vehicles, and the explosion of innovation in the small-business sector regularly highlighted by shows such as Shark Tank, Restaurant Startup, and Ellen’s Design Challenge, it often feels like we’re living in a golden age of innovation! While every successful entrepreneur doesn’t have to create a new product or service that’s completely original and a runaway success, you may have a “Eureka!” moment where you believe you’ve discovered an innovative new product or service or (just as importantly) an innovative new way to make an existing product or service your own. Should you invest the time and money necessary to bring your new idea to fruition, even if it requires a substantial investment or risk on your part and/or the part of your business? Luckily, there are a few questions you can ask to help ensure your new idea is worth pursuing.

Does Your New Idea Solve A Problem?

The first step to determining whether or not your innovative new product or service is viable is identifying the problem that your new product or service solves. “Wait,” you say, “Not every product or service solves a problem!” While not every product or service may be absolutely necessary in order for humans to survive and society to function, identifying the niche that your product will fill within their daily lives is a vital step in determining whether or not a market exists for your product or service. No matter how great your new product or service may be, claiming, “Everyone needs this product!” is likely incorrect. It’s important to determine exactly who will need your product or service, because if that group of people is too small, your new product or service may not be viable.

Who Is Your Target Market?

The next step in this process is identifying your target market. If you already own a small business that’s servicing a particular ideal customer and target market, you may believe that your new product or service will target that same market, but that might not be an accurate assumption to make. If your new product or service doesn’t solve a problem common among your existing customer base and target market, then they won’t be motivated to purchase it. Identifying your target market is even more important if you own an existing business, as it’s imperative that you determine early in the process whether or not you should offer the product or service through your existing business or found a new one. One of the few things worse than launching a new product or service that ultimately fails is allowing that failure to drag down or damage the reputation of your existing business and successful products or services.

In our next post, we will continue to discuss ways you can determine whether or not a new product or service is viable.