Have an innovative idea? Having some trouble getting it realized?

Over the years, I’ve worked with many people who have great ideas. They have ideas for new products, new ways consumers can do the things they love and better ways that business can be done. Heck, my family tells me about great product ideas on a regular basis!

Sometimes, the initial way we go about realizing our vision doesn’t work and we have to find a plan B. Here are two ways to approach getting your innovative ideas out of your dreamscape and into reality.

Crowdfund and find some self-sacrificing companions who believe in the cause.

Go out on a limb, take a risk, and put yourself at the mercy or blessing of crowdfunding. They always say that if the people want it, it will happen right? One of my favorite examples of this is Bibliotheca – a revamping of the Bible without numbering for easy reading. It was backed by over 14,000 pledges.

Screen Shot 2016-04-09 at 9.44.05 PM

Once you have the money, you have to create the systems to make production and shipping (if necessary) happen.

Take it to the people who have the power to make it happen.

It can take multiple rounds on crowdfunding platforms to get fully funded. Sometimes this is a promotional issue and other times it’s because there are serious changes that need to be made with your product. If you still aren’t funded after a few tries, take this with a grain of salt. If push comes to shove, produce your prototype and then sell it to someone who can take it to market.

shark-tank-show-abc-1940x900_35239-1

I know, I know, this is the one that nobody wants to here. You may ask, “Why should I work with some large media company or business mogul to bring my game-changer to life?” The simple answer is that they have the resources that you do not. Also, they probably won’t take so big of a cut that you won’t benefit.

3 Questions Every Small Business Owner Should Ask

What’s your company line? Get your team on the same page.

Carmine Gallo demonstrates how to quickly describe Lush's USP
Carmine Gallo quickly describes Lush’s USP

The larger your business grows the more interactions you’ll have with “the outside world.” It’s not efficient to reinvent your elevator pitch every time you chat about your company. You’ll need to come up with a general response that you can modify with details that are relevant to your audience.

In an ideal world, each of your employees will naturally promote your company when talking with friends, family, and posting on social media. But, how often do your current team members do so? Help your employees by preparing a subconscious script when it comes to what the organization is about, what its goals are, and how it provides value. Weave this script into your corporate culture and internal messaging and model this response for your employees.

Where are you going? Frame the change.

You know where you want your company to go, you have plans regarding how to get there, but, are you communicating your vision to employees? Sometimes fulfilling your vision may cause significant changes for employees. Be humble and transparent when explaining the need for these changes and how employees will benefit in the long run.

One example of this is first round process documentation. Frankly, when you ask an employee to document how they complete a task, especially if it’s one of their primary job functions, you are asking them to make themselves disposable. Not too many employees will enjoy feeling like they are easily replaced. You should highlight the opportunity as something for the growth of both the company and the employee.  For example, once the task is documented that employee could train someone under them as they move up in the ranks (as long as there are ranks to climb, wink, wink). If you have the right employees working for you and invest in your team, company growth will often result in professional advancement for most team members.

How does your business work? Put all your ducks in a row.

Documentation allows you to keep a record of how your business works. If you are looking to sell your company or need to attract additional capital you need to be able to verify the interworkings and processes of your business. You’ll need to show how each department operates and keep records of profitability. Despite resistance you may receive from employees, just get it all down on paper.

Where do you go from here? Take stock of your company’s internal messaging, your vision casting, and how you’re challenging your employees to see where you can improve. These are basic practices, but you’d be surprised how many organizations struggle in at least one of these areas.

Shout Out to Small Businesses : Working the Human Element

Everything tastes better when it’s homemade. There is something delicious about food that’s prepared by people that love making it and love simply sharing it with others.

The motivation changes when you bring profit into the mix. When decisions about what goes into the recipe depend on what’s selling at the time, and what’s popular, changes may be made to make a few extra dollars for the business, and the recipe runs the risk of losing quality.

Something else happens when you remove the product from human hands. I guarantee a food made by a machine tastes far less good than momma’s home cooking. With that said, I got a blueberry muffin from A Little Something Bakery this weekend. It was far better than its Dunkin’ Donuts counterpart.

In many ways, small businesses are like families and their production is more akin to momma’s home cooking than mass production. There’s surely something special about small business. Funny enough, I came across this bumper sticker this morning while on a jog.