5 steps to a marketable innovation

For the last 20 years, David Porter has been working alongside innovative startups to help turbo-charge their growth. Now an advisor at the Sussex Innovation Centre, he reveals his top five tips on how to make innovation happen.

1. Use your network

Talk to as many people in your target market as possible, accessing potential customers by asking for introductions through your network. Never make a cold call if you can avoid it. And don’t ask your friends about your idea, they will tell you what they think you want to hear.

Use your network’s other resources too. Identify who you know who could help and who or which organisations they, in turn, can introduce you to that offer support to help get ideas to market – from funding to office space to discussions with other innovators.

2. Write it down now

Translate your idea into a financial plan as soon as possible. Make sure that as early as possible you know your value proposition and what makes your innovation appealing to your market.

3. Always be lean

You don’t want to spend £20,000 testing a prototype: you want to test the actual product idea. So carry out top level, robust market research.

You can convince yourself of absolutely anything by doing biased research so make sure you use peer reviewed and reputable research from industry bodies. Keep asking questions about competitors and customers to make sure your assumptions hold true.

Then get a focus group together and think carefully about the questions to ask so that you are ready to develop your actual product.

4. Develop resilience

You will come up against a lot of barriers so you need to work out how to be ready to overcome them. Always have alternative options in your back pocket and have the mindset to rework your plan. Build in flexibility to turn your innovation into something different.

If you are part of a team, communicate your vision clearly so everyone is pulling in the same direction and supporting each other.

5. Sense check your idea often

Ensure there is substance behind all your decisions. Don’t just crack on with all the technology development but regularly check with your audience that the product being created is what they need.

Keep up the momentum by building in milestones and making sure there is always something new to show for all your hard work.

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