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Commercializing Your Ideas

By: AllBusiness.com

How much a Web site costs to build depends on how much you want it to do.

You can put up a basic "billboard" site for practically nothing if you use one of the homesteading sites offered by services such as Yahoo! Small Business. There are a number of services that will help you build a simple, templated business Web site for less than $100. A world-class e-commerce site for a big company, on the other hand, can cost $1 million or more, according to Gartner, and it can require ongoing maintenance costs to match.

But there are always options to cut corners. If you're willing and able to do much of the work yourself, you can save a fortune in labor costs. You can use freeware and shareware Web building tools instead of spending thousands of dollars on full-blown commercial image editors, HTML authoring programs, and other niceties. And you can host your site with your regular Internet service provider instead of a dedicated hosting service.

There's nothing wrong with the low-cost approach, but if you're really serious about growing your business on the Web, it is not recommend that you scrimp on your site. While you don't want to waste money, investing in a clean, fast, well-designed Web site that's always up and running for your customers is probably one of the best ways to spend your money.

AllBusiness.com operates one of the Web's premier business sites, providing practical information and services for business professionals and growing businesses. See more at www.allbusiness.com.

By: AllBusiness.com

In a small business one late payment from a major client can make it tough to have the cash on hand in time for the regular pay day. An extra day or two of breathing room might seem helpful to balance cash flow but it will also run afoul of wage and hour law.

The U.S. Wage and Hour Division of the Department of Labor (DOL) responds to this question by stating, "In general, an employer must pay covered non-exempt employees the full minimum wage and any statutory overtime due on the regularly scheduled pay day for the workweek in question." This information comes from the DOL's recently published Frequently Asked Questions Regarding Furloughs and Other Reductions in Pay and Hours Worked Issues.

Federal and state wage and hour laws require the establishment of workweeks and pay days and the recordkeeping that goes along with this process. The combination of these regulations also makes it hard to change pay day. The DOL State Payday Requirements chart can be a good place to start your information search. States differ in requirements of pay frequency and are specific advance notice needed if payday is going to be changed.

Checking all of the guidelines before reducing any hours saves time, money and headaches. Employees who don't receive their pay as usual are more likely to head to a state or federal department of labor. The wage and hour investigation can result in back pay and hours spent in response, both of which will grow when the inquiry extends to issues beyond one pay day.

AllBusiness.com operates one of the Web's premier business sites, providing practical information and services for business professionals and growing businesses. See more at www.allbusiness.com.

By: AllBusiness.com

There are plenty of innovation and ideation efforts that yield new ideas for growth but never generate a dime for their inventors or the companies that develop them. Why is this the case? In my experience over the last 30 years it's in part because many inventors or developers of ideas don't understand how to jump the gap from ideas to actually selling them. This is also called the Commercialization Conundrum: The idea for a new product or technology looks good in the lab or the shop but nobody can sell it.

Wouldn't it make more sense to think like an entrepreneur rather than an inventor from the beginning? This means shifting thinking to finding opportunities to solve a problem or fill a gap to meet a customer's needs in new or novel ways. Anticipating how to solve current and future problems in new and sometimes simple ways is at the heart of thinking entrepreneurially.

Ultimately the goal of any innovation strategy, ideation event, or market growth plan is to develop sustainable and profitable business growth. In other words, making more money. Growth by innovation typically comes from new products or services, finding new customers, providing new value to existing customers or communicating your marketing message more clearly to target markets.

Key Steps to Commercialization:

  1. Commit to think like an entrepreneur or a start-up business, by doing things cheaply, failing fast, getting smart and looking for new ways to solve customer problems.
  2. Continually analyze the markets and customers you serve to gain insight into new opportunities.
  3. Look for problems customers wrestle with and understand the root causes of these problems.
  4. Take a hard look internally at your business and understand how your Hidden Assets in terms of knowledge, access and capabilities can be leveraged to solve customer problems.
  5. Use an ideation event like Eureka Winning Ways to generate a large number of good ideas in a short period of time.
  6. Clarify and refine your top ideas as quickly as you can, because you will likely learn new ways to solve problems that may modify the original idea for the better.
  7. Make sure you answer the following questions about your ideas:
    1. Overt Benefit: What's in it for me (the customer)?
    2. Reason to Believe: Why should I believe you?
    3. Dramatic Difference: Why should I care?
  8. Borrow, don't build as a first step
  9. Conduct technical development or R&D to fill gaps in the product and how it solves problems.
  10. Build a quick and dirty prototype and get as much feedback from potential customers as possible to make it better.
  11. Develop a practical marketing and sales strategy before you go to market.
  12. Execute your plan using Dr. Deming's Plan, Do, Study, Act cycle of continuous improvement.

Following this step by step approach to commercialization will get you to the market faster than your competitors and teach you a considerable amount about what works in innovation and business growth strategies.


Charlie Alter owns Bentbrook Advisors LLC, based in Sylvania, Ohio. He specializes in Growth Strategy, Innovation and Coaching and can be reached at calter@me.com. Visit http://bentbrookadvisors.com/ for more information on his business advisory practice.

AllBusiness.com operates one of the Web's premier business sites, providing practical information and services for business professionals and growing businesses. See more at www.allbusiness.com.

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