Whats my next step?


My name is Stephen. This is my first time at your site so I'll explain where I'm at with my product and hopefully I can get a little feedback on what you might think is the best "next step".

1.) Had an idea for a product and sat down at the work bench and made a working rough prototype right away. Result- "IT WORKS!" and very well. 2.) Enlisted the help of a friend, refined a better prototype made from better materials.
Result - a usable prototype and twice the enthusiasm. I now have an engineer on board. 3.) Secured a patent pending covering the invention and it's offspring which are obvious.
Result - Over 2 grand in debt. 4.) Found a designer who will do the CAD design and get us a manufacturable prototype.
Result - possible 3 to 5 grand more debt, as soon as I say lets go. 5.) Realized this is going to get expensive and I don't have the kind of money it will take to get this to market. Single dad just making ends meet (sometimes). I believe this is such a good product and I can see it selling in huge volumes, eventually moving into so many other areas. Everyone I show it to thinks it's a good product as well. Result - 2-3 Friends want to invest. That is a nervous proposal. Business plan? Marketing? Register a Business? Incorporate? I am going to do this, it's just too good to let go. It's a life changer but my next move is?

Any help you may be able to provide would be greatly appreciated. Thanks, Stephen

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asked Mar 17 '12 at 23:07
16 points
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  • What is your question? – Tim J 11 years ago
  • His question is clear to me. He outlined the steps he has taken to make his idea a reality, and wants to know what he should do now he has the prototype, patent pending and friends wanting to invest. – Digital Sea 11 years ago
  • @Dwayne - That is such a broad question. And there is no "right answer". I was hoping to have him clarify exactly what he wants help with. As it stands it is impossible to give clear, objective answers - the best we can come up with are opinions and discussion about the next steps. – Tim J 11 years ago
  • Hello Tim j. Not sure what else to tell you. If you had an invention and had taken these steps what would you do next? What can I tell you to clarify the situation a little better? Looking for the input so more than happy to add to my first question. – Stephen 11 years ago
  • What did u invent?? Its patent pending so u can tell people what it is .. Right ?? – Chris J. 10 years ago

4 Answers


In short, build a business plan. Spend some time thinking about and researching what would be needed to bring your idea to market, who your competitors will be, what the market will be, what segments of that market you will address, and a financial plan for doing all of the above. Once you have those answers, it will be easier to understand the next steps. You don't want to raise $25K from your friends only to discover that you will need $1mm to take it to market. Only then to discover that competitors clone your idea and it will take another $1mm to defend the patent.

And you'll need a business plan for almost any of you next steps anyway. Any smart investor, banker, or early stage employee will want to understand your plan.

Also, in an earlier comment you say "I have no competitors that I can find, [in] hours of searching internet and magazines I have found nothing like it." Don't accept that: if you think there is no competition then you aren't thinking broadly enough. Think of the iPad. When it was first released, there was nothing like it. But in Steve Jobs' introduction speech he specifically talked about the competition: smartphones, netbooks and laptops. And why the iPad would have an advantage.

The following strategic planning worksheet was designed for IT companies, but it's really valuable for all kinds of start ups : http://www.strategicmessaging.com/strategy-for-it-vendors-a-worksheet/2011/09/18/. I'd encourage you to fill it out, then build a fiscal plan to allow you to execute on that strategy.

Another good place to start is the SBA's site on creating a business plan.

answered Mar 19 '12 at 22:08
David Ogren
131 points
  • Thanks Dave, I was being a little thin on the thinking when I said no competition. There is another way to do what my invention helps with but it is far inferior and doesn't use the same approach. It is OK but the new device is a serious improvement from anything previously used. I will look into those sights. Thanks again. – Stephen 11 years ago


Your next step should be researching what your competitors are doing (if your product has any competitors that is). It's foolish to release a product whether it be a physical product or online product without the adequate research. I also suggest before taking investment from your friends or anyone you enlist the services of a lawyer, sit down and work out what kind of promises you should be making to your investors, as well as obligations and expectations to your investors as well.

A good idea is good, a working prototype is great but as you said you're a single father only just scraping by, before you go getting into debt or causing yourself legal complications by taking investment money get legal advice and perhaps consider expanding your research circle to include non-friends and family. Friends and family I find are too kind and dishonest when giving feedback, family and friends are rarely ever honest especially if they don't want to hurt your feelings.

answered Mar 18 '12 at 12:59
Digital Sea
1,613 points
  • Hello, I have no competitors that I can find, hours of searching internet and magazines I have found nothing like it. I took it to an area it would be used and got feed back from a group it would directly affect to refine the prototype. Now I'm taking that info to a proper designer. The friends that want to invest LOVE money so it is purely driven by dollars. That I'm pretty sure of. I will talk to a lawyer and see what needs to be set up and the costs there. Thanks for your input. – Stephen 11 years ago
  • Not having any competition is BAD. It means there is no demand for your product. Think of it this way: you think people will use your product. Fine. So what do they do today, since they don't have your product? That's your competition. The key question: how will you convince people to switch from whatever method they use today to using your product instead. – Alain Raynaud 11 years ago
  • Perhaps I didn't explain that very well. There are other things being used to assist in the the same area as my product but not in this manner. It truely is a "why didn't anyone think of that"moment. – Stephen 11 years ago


By no means this is complete.

But I think this is point to make things clear before moving further.
Like -

  • Where is my market ?

    • is it local and/or nationwide and/or international ?
    • who will buy my product ? (age, industry, gender etc.)
    • How do news of about my product reach them ?
    • How does my product reach them ?
    • Do I do it in-house or outsource ?
  • What is my production plan ?

    • Do I want to setup production line of my own ? or other options ? (Evaluations go here).
    • What is suitable for 1 year / 5 years / 15+ years of business ?
    • Either way, do I have team for it ?
    • What if demand is unmanageable beyond estimations?
    • What if there is no demand at all for <-certain-> time-frame ?
    • What is the minimum time promised for delivery after accepting order ?
    • Can I make it win-win even if people copy my idea/design/strategy (despite patents) and compete ?
    • any customer-support provisions ?
  • What kind of people are required to get going ?

    • what are distinct roles I can't enact ?
    • legal, marketing, production, finance (funding, accounting), decision-makers, mentors.
  • what are minimum infrastructure requirements for success ?
  • Money

    • what minimum funds we need right away ?
    • what minimum funds we need every year ? (projection for next 2 years ?)
    • How do we raise money before regular sales start / success ?
    • How do we raise money after success ?
Good Luck !
answered Mar 29 '12 at 19:45
1 point


As your current question is quite large I would recommend seeing if there are local startup organizations in your area. See if you can grab a meeting with them and do a run through of you prototype and your idea. A one hour meeting with them will really help to push you in the right direction and help with your upcoming decisions.

answered Mar 19 '12 at 15:11
Zane Prickett
1 point
  • Thanks Zane, had the meeting and awaiting there proposal but they were quite impressed and commented that they see it selling in high volumes. I understand they want the buisness but they seemed sincere. I have started a buisness plan but feeli quite limited at this stage with such limited information. Thanks again. – Stephen 11 years ago

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