Developing your ideas
If you decide to start a new business, you will need to spend some time developing your business idea. One of the greatest advantages of being an entrepreneur is being able to work on something that interests you and that you are passionate about. Unfortunately, passion does not always translate into profits.
Research, research, research! The more information you can gather about the potential demand for your product or service, about your competitors, about the needs and wants of your prospective customers, the more successful you are likely to be.
Before starting a business, you need to evaluate your idea and determine what your chances of making a profit from that idea are. This document lists some things that you should consider and provides links to additional information to help you assess your idea.
Is your idea truly original?
You will need to research your idea to see if it is truly original or whether someone else has a similar product or service. Capturing a niche market, i.e. something no one else is doing, would be more profitable than competing with a similar product or service. A business expert or mentor can help you to evaluate or enhance your original business idea.
- Conducting market research
Learn more about market research, how it can improve your business decisions, and how to conduct a market research campaign.
Will people be willing to pay for your product or service?
Great ideas can only translate into a successful business if people are willing to pay for the product or service.
- First, you need to identify who the target market is for your product. Are you planning to sell to young people or seniors? Is your product primarily for women, men or both? Are you going to sell to individuals, other businesses or to the government? What income level would people need to have to be able to afford your product or service?
- Once you know whom you are going to sell to, you should consider doing some market research to find out if your target market would be interested in buying your product or service and how much they would be willing to pay for it.
- If your product or service is something people would be interested in, but not willing to pay for, you can consider alternate business models. Some businesses, in particular in the service industries, offer their service for free or at a low price, but are able to make money through other avenues, such as advertising.
- Who is your customer? Before you begin selling something, you need to know whom you are selling to.
Will your product or service be able to compete with existing companies?
Once you find out who your customers are, you will need to look at who else is selling similar products and where they are selling them. Will you be competing with a product that has already been marketed? If your idea is a consumer product, check stores and catalogues or visit trade shows to find out what other products are available and what companies market them. You need to determine why customers will buy from you and not from your competitor. Is your product superior or is your price lower than other businesses? The best way to do this is to conduct market research using existing data or by doing your own survey.
How will you distribute your product or service?
To distribute your product or service, you can either start your own company or you can try to convince an existing company to buy your product or idea from you. It may be easier to start your own company than to try to convince another company to distribute your product or service. Many potential buyers are more willing to deal with a company as a supplier than they are to take on a product or invention from an independent person.
How will you promote your product or service?
An idea or invention is not much use without customers to buy it! Have you considered how the customers will hear about or find your product? Some ways to market your product are:
- On the Internet via a website
- At trade shows and through your trade associations
- Advertising in newspapers, on the radio or on television
- Distributing brochures
To learn more about effective marketing and promotion techniques, see:
Promoting and advertising your business
Learn how to use advertising and other promotional techniques effectively.
Do you need intellectual property protection for your idea or invention?
Your idea, invention or product may need to be protected from being copied by others. Find out if the tangible result of your intellectual activity is eligible for intellectual property protection and how to get it.
Copyright and Intellectual Property
Learn about intellectual property (IP), including patents, trade-marks, copyright, industrial design and integrated circuit topographies, and how they can protect your business.
Are there any government restrictions or obligations that could limit your idea?
Before you move ahead with your business idea, you may want to check to see if there are any regulations that may prohibit or limit the sale of your proposed product or service or the operation of your business.
Regulations, Licences and Permits
Learn about regulations, permits and licences that apply to your business.
What resources do you require to get your business off the ground?
Developing a solid business plan will be critical to the success of your business. A business plan will help you determine how much money you need to start your business. Also, a lender or investor will want to review it to determine your eligibility for financing. Your plan should clearly outline how you plan to make money and include an estimate of your projected sales for the first year. Base your estimates on the size of your market, your competition, your price, marketing plan and trends in the industry. Also include in your plan your expected expenses for things such as supplies, rental space, salaries, insurance, etc.
- Business Planning
Find out how to write a business plan and access templates and sample business plans.
Where can you go for help evaluating and clarifying your idea?
While you are still considering your idea, you may wish to get some help along the way.
For more information, you can call, visit or e-mail the Canada Business Service Centres and regional partner offices. Our business information officers are prepared to provide assistance with your business questions and can direct you to relevant information in our extensive collection of business-related publications, directories and electronic databases.
You may also wish to get help from professional advisors such as lawyers, accountants, and business consultants. Consult our directories of Canadian companies to find ones located near you.
Do you need professional help for your business? Access this online database of accredited professionals. It includes accountants, legal professionals, business valuators and auditors. The entries are listed by province or territory.
Access this online directory to find business development organizations and business consultants, including specialists in the areas of exporting, financial services, human resources management, marketing, and more.