SMB Nation Blog

SMB Nation has been serving the Bainbridge Island area since 2001, providing IT Support such as technical helpdesk support, computer support, and consulting to small and medium-sized businesses.

5 Ways To Market your Prototype

After spending so much time and energy creating an amazing prototype that you are excited about, you may be eager to take it to market and to start generating a profit from it. As simple as this sounds, it actually is more complicated than you might think. After all, the prototype should be carefully analyzed and tested before it is mass produced. Furthermore, you have to understand market requirements, competing products and even how your customers may actually use the product. The prototype is only the first step in the full production process. However, you may be able to start marketing your prototype quickly through several different strategies.

Create a Prototype First
Before you start marketing the prototype, ensure that the prototype is the best version possible. It should be very detailed and prototypemade of high-quality elements. At one time, creating a quality prototype was cost-prohibitive for inventors and smaller companies. However, 3D printing is now easily accessible and affordable. Prototypes made from this type of technology may even the playing field and potentially increase the number of great inventions that are brought to market. With your prototype in hand, you can market it in these ways.

1. The Teaser
A teaser is a website that is specifically designed to promote your prototype. Your website should use Google Adwords and SEO strategies to bring visitors to it. Once on the teaser website, visitors can see the prototype in detail. They can also learn about its features and uses. However, avoid stating all features and benefits. This website should be akin to a movie trailer. You want to entice visitors to contact you for more information so that you can customize your sales pitch specifically to them.

2. The Funds
To effectively market your product on a wider scale, you generally need to have access to a substantial amount of capital. You can fund this endeavor through your own personal funds if you have access to that amount of capital, or you can raise money from friends and family members. Your teaser website may be useful in this situation. You can also raise funds through venture capitalists, angel investors, silent partners and others.

3. Offer Early Purchase
Your product may not currently be available for sale, but that does not mean that you cannot accept orders for it. A pre-order is a great way for you to raise the revenue needed to bring the product fully to market. It also can show your potential investors that there is a strong market for the product. However, if you do accept pre-orders, try to deliver a product that is as close to the prototype as possible. You do not want your first few customers to be unhappy with the product they received because it is different than what was promised to them.

4. The Tryout Period
Another idea is to offer a free trial of your product. Some customers who are interested in your product and who may be uncertain about buying something seemingly new or untested may be eager to try a product without strings attached. This is also a great way to get feedback that is necessary to further refine your product. A smart idea is to offer these initial customers a discount to encourage them to make a purchase after the trial period ends.

5. The Power of Social Networks
There are many free or cost-effective ways to promote your product online. For example, social networks like Facebook and Instagram are free for you to use, and you can spread the word about your product to your followers. They can share the information with others. This potentially lets you expand your reach to a significantly larger group of people than you otherwise would have access to on your own.

Important: Ideas and Patent Protection
If you have a truly great idea, there is always a chance that someone else will mimic or outright copy your idea. In order to protect your rights, you need to have a patent on your product. You may seek legal assistance with this process if you are not familiar with it, or you can contact the U.S. patent office yourself to begin the process.

You could try to bring your product to market immediately on your own, but there are ways to promote your prototype that may be more effective and affordable. These alternatives may give you time to work the kinks out and to further refine the product before it is mass produced. Explore these various concepts to identify the most effective strategies for your unique prototype.

Author’s Bio:
Heather Redding is a part-time assistant manager and freelance writer based in Aurora, Illinois. She is also an avid reader and a tech enthusiast. When Heather is not working or writing, she enjoys her Kindle library and a hot coffee. You can reach her on Twitter.

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Guide to Improving Your Business Capabilities

The way that you run your business will have evolved over time. From the early days when there may just be you working for your business, to the current day when you may have a number of employees, your business processes will have changed withBusiness Capabilities the increase and possible variation of workload; but are you working effectively? One way to boost your company’s bottom line is to review your working practices, procedures and environment, and take action on your findings.

Staff
With business growth comes the need to recruit staff who can help you accomplish your business goals, but you may not have considered that the working practices that they bring onboard could be harming the effectiveness and productivity of your business. You need to fully understand how your employees perform their duties to make changes that will benefit the business. It could be something as simple as moving the printer nearer the reception desk, or slightly more complex changes that require an examination of the company’s culture. One example of when the company’s culture needs to be addressed is if colleagues have too many meetings that fail to achieve the action points detailed in the agenda. The culture of your organisation needs to work with your objectives in mind, and not against them.

IT Infrastructure
Office workers are often frustrated by the technology that is in place in the office. While your IT infrastructure may have been adequate when you initially started your business, you are required to update your technology periodically. A slow computer that takes too long to load is a sign that you need to address your IT issues by upgrading the memory on the computers.

Seek out specific software solutions that can help your employees fulfil their roles. There is software available that can help HR, accounting and even warehouse management. You will lose time while you implement the new systems, but most will be compatible with your current infrastructure and will boost productivity with time-saving technologies.

The Office
As previously mentioned, simple changes to the layout of an office can significantly boost productivity. You need to ensure that the environment that you provide for your employees is conducive to optimal output. The impact of the aesthetics of the work environment on workers’ wellbeing is well documented, but have you taken advantage of this research? Workstations that are placed in natural light, office plants, artwork on the walls and a fresh coat of paint have been found to reduce fatigue, headaches and stress. As well as your staff’s mental wellbeing, you must also cater for their physical health: choose ergonomically designed office equipment. By taking care of the people that help you run your business, they will reciprocate and take care of you.

The need for change is often prompted when you recognise that your business is not performing as well as you know it can. There are many reasons for a reduction in performance, but by taking time to understand the workings of your business intimately, you will be able to identify solutions to the issues raised.

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Analysis: Geek Guide to Day Lights Savings Time!

Analysis: Geek Guide to Day Lights Savings Time!

My good friends over at GeekWire published a timely piece on setting your clocks forward on March 13, 2016. Always a goog evergreen story, this article highlights the good and bad. And cheers that it doesn’t mention the farming myth about day light savings.

Spring forward in stages
Spring = forward. It’s a simple algorithm, but this weekend’s switch to daylight saving time can get complicated. The bottom line is that timepieces have to be pushed forward an hour in most (but not all) of North America. Traditionally, clocks skip ahead an hour, from 2 a.m. to 3 a.m. local time Sunday. Smartphones, computers and other connected devices should pick up the beat automatically. Old-school analog devices as well as standalone electronics such as microwave ovens will have to be set by hand, typically at bedtime on Saturday night.

daylight
But maybe there should be another way to think about all this, particularly because of 21st-century social trends.
Read on here.  

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