From idea to market: Key issues start-ups should consider during the innovation process

Nick Green
To ensure the best chance for success, a start-up should consider a number of key issues. (Source: Getty)

Every start-up faces certain road blocks, from the start of its journey right up until market launch so it is important to be prepared for these issues.

Here is a non-exhaustive checklist of questions that every start-up should be asking itself at the start of the innovation process, throughout development, and onwards to market launch.

Idea Generation: So you've had the idea – now what?

How can you protect your idea?

  • What intellectual property rights (IPRs) are there in the product/solution? Can they be formally protected by way of registration (and what is the cost of that)?

  • Is there a product/solution already out there that your idea conflicts or competes with? Would you be infringing someone else's IPRs with your idea?

Who owns the business?

  • If there are multiple founders, what is the arrangement regarding ownership and control? What will happen if someone wants to leave (or the other founders want them to leave)
  • What kind of corporate structure should be put in place? Is this appropriate for the international growth of your business? What are the tax implications of your chosen corporate structure?

Development: Putting the idea into practice

Engaging with external resource

  • If you are using third parties to assist in the development of the product/solution (e.g. a software developer, marketing agent etc.), do you have, and use, binding non-disclosure and confidentiality agreements?
  • If those third parties are inputting on the product/solution, do you own all of the output (especially IPRs) from their work?
  • If you are hiring employees, how do you protect your IPRs and confidential information if and when those employees leave?

How do you finance the business?

  • If you need external funding, what are the external funding options available?

Are you still protecting your idea?

  • As your product/solution has been developed and refined, are your protections valid and appropriate? Do you need to re-evaluate your protection strategy now that your product/solution is closer to finalisation?

Implementation: Going to market

Selling your product/solution

  • What regulations apply to the sale of your product/solution in each market you are selling it?
  • What is your customer base? Are you selling to other businesses, directly to consumers, or both? Are you complying with the (different) laws that relate to both?
  • Do you have standard terms and conditions for sale/supply that protect your business?
  • Do you have a privacy policy and terms of use on your website?

Is the financing of the business appropriate?

  • Now that you have a revenue stream, should you re-evaluate your financing model?

By taking the time to think about these questions at the start of the process, a start-up will be giving itself the best possible chance to succeed.

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