Many people have great ideas and many have asked themselves how to turn their idea into a product, service or business. For many policy makers commercialising new ideas, especially within the third-and fourth-level academic institutions, is the holy grail of entrepreneurship. However, whether it is a new idea for a widget to fix a common problem conceived by someone who left school early or is a genius geneticist in a top university with a new idea to cure cancer, if they are going to be turned into a product or service that someone can buy, they must follow through the same processes. Over the next few posts I want to explain and explore the processes that someone with an idea should go through to convert their idea into reality.

At this point I should make a very important point. Just because you can develop a new product, service, widget, programme etc., does not mean that there is a market for this product, service etc. A market exists when someone has a need where someone else has a product or service that can meet that need and both parties agree to an exchange for an agreed sum of money. Thus, for your product or service to be commercialised there must be enough customers willing to pay your asking price and that your asking price multiplied by the number of transactions by customers covers your costs and makes a surplus or profit for you. This is the difference between being able to make something and being able to commercialise something. Many people have spent a lot of their own time, money and energy developing new products, service and businesses only to find out later that nobody wanted to buy their offering. Therefore, before you spend a lot of money and effort on converting your great idea into reality, make sure there is a potential market with adequate paying customers first.

There are effectively 7 basic steps to commercialising an idea which are as follows:
1. Develop the idea to a prototype or worked out process
2. Assess the idea thoroughly, both technically and commercially, before you progress with the commercialisation process
3. Protect the idea and its intellectual property
4. Set up a strong team of people around you
5. Commercialise the idea/bring it to market
6. Get funding to develop the commercialised idea
7. use the ‘System’ at all stages to help you

One thing to remember is that even though this may all seem a lot of effort (and it is) you will go through this process one step at a time and the whole process may take years to get through. You should focus on managing one step at a time but always keeping an eye on planning for the next stages. Remember, if it was easy everybody would do it but the rewards, both personal and financial, can be great if your idea can find a suitable and sizable market.

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