Whether your idea is a product you want to make money from or it's a social enterprise – it will require the same amount of effort to make it happen.

That effort really boils down to the golden triangle of time, money and skills.

Answer the following questions to identify the gaps in your current resources:


  • What skills do you have to bring to the party?
  • What skills will you need in your team around you?
  • Have you got the design expertise to design your own product?
  • Do you have experience in commercialisation or marketing?
  • Would you prefer to employ a team of people fresh out of Uni or an agency like The Imagination Factory (depends on how complex your idea is).
  • If your idea involves mechanisms or electronics, do you know designers who can help you develop this element of the product?
  • Do you know somebody to advise on IP (intellectual property)?
  • Do you have experience using IP databases to check your Freedom to Operate?
  • Do you understand what is beyond your capability? Make a note of these areas.
  • TIME

    If you had all the time in the world you could learn most or all of the skills required yourself. But as this is unlikely to be your position, estimate on an average month:

    • what time you have available outside work
    • what personal or family commitments are non-negotiable

    Think of yourself as a project manager and look at the time you have to manage this and who you can bring on board to do certain elements.

    If you are not clear about the skills or people you might need in a team, here are a few suggestions to help you:

    • KTN – Knowledge Transfer Network – part of Innovate UK - connects you with an innovation network and provides early stage business planning advice
    • British Library – Business and IP Centre - good place to get advice on IP
    • Design Council – lots of resources about the design process
    • The Virgin Start Up Loans website has lots of "how to" resources including how to build your team


    If a product involves an element of design and technology it typically costs between £250,000 and £2 million to fully research and develop the idea to the point of sale So, we never expect people to have anything close to this in the bank when we first meet them. But conversely, you do need a lot more money than a few thousand pounds to get an idea off the ground. Keep in mind:

    • the development of an idea stretches over a long period, so there are options for raising funds to pay along the way
    • remember that the figure quoted above equates to time and skills – some of which you will personally give for free

    There are many ways to fund the development of your idea. The next step explores potential sources for this funding.


    Our rule of thumb is you won't get far for less than £250K, but what that money really represents is the time spent plus some materials. 

    You might spend less money, but work on it for years and years, chipping away. You might also have a lot of people around you contributing their time and skills for free, because they are excited to be a part of your dream team.

    People sometimes say to us that they saw a new idea on a Crowdfunding site that raised £30k and became a successful product. So, understandably it seems like it should be possible to do something for not too much money.

    But there are a number of reasons why this could be mis-leading:

    • the inventor might have had access to other sources of funding beyond the Crowdfunding
    • the entrepreneur might have had access to any number of the required skills at little or no cost
    • delivering 1000 products at a cost of £30 each does not mean they have a successful or sustainable business beyond the campaign


    The important thing is to go back to what you decided in Step 2 about your goals for developing this idea. And then be realistic about the time and money that needs to be invested to achieve that.

    We know you're itching to get onto the exciting bit where your idea starts to come to life but don't rush this part. Unless it's your day job it typically takes an entrepreneur at least 6 weeks to get the value proposition right and identify the resources that will be needed.

    If you are still convinced your idea has commercial value or will meet the social impact goals you have, then move onto Step 4 to explore some funding routes.


    Now you've built a realistic picture of the resources you're likely to need read on to discover some sources of funding to help you get started. Click on the button below - Step 4 Funding Sources


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