How to Refine Your Idea to Build an Actual Product You Can Sell

For conceptually driven entrepreneurs, these strategies for proactive planning will help you come up with tangible, marketable products or services and bring your great ideas to fruition

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(Image: iStock.com/Susan Chiang)

Successful companies all start by building around a unique idea. That said, not everyone with a great idea should build a product. Not all ideas are feasible with current technology or market conditions.

Does your idea provide value? Are people interested in using your product? If you do not evaluate your idea, there is high chance that it won’t survive.

Start by researching whether it can be implemented and how much it would cost. This is equally important for entrepreneurs asking for outside investment as it is for those who are bootstrapping. Do not simply evaluate it and then jump to full-scale development.

Define Your Idea and Go From There

Before you jump into implementation, it is important to understand the essence of your idea. What function or service will it provide? Going in even one direction will require a lot of effort, so don’t try to take it in different directions at once. As the CTO of a software development company, I have seen that many of our clients who have funding themselves aren’t looking to be distracted by many small features.

So first off, define your idea. Find one basic function or service that will bring the value to your customer. From there, add all the necessary supporting functionality. Build your user experience around it. If your product doesn’t offer a great experience, people who aren’t simply attracted by looks won’t stay with you forever. Think about design only after you have your core feature, and evaluate user experience with real people to understand what direction to head in.

Create a prototype to evaluate your product in order to allow both yourself and others have a feel for the product. Sometimes, it even makes sense to develop a prototype in code, especially if it’s a complex product that can take months to build. Starting with graphic design, for example, will cost you a large overhead if you’re going to make changes and adjustments to your product at the same time. Software development costs a lot, so you should take time to think about your plan before you add even more costs to the list.

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Alexey Rechkunov is the CTO and co-founder of SFCD with 15+ years of experience of building products.

BusinessCollective, launched in partnership with Citi, is a virtual mentorship program powered by North America’s most ambitious young thought leaders, entrepreneurs, executives and small business owners.