This installment covering entrepreneurism, is a topic thread continuation of an article from last month where the discussion centered on the grass roots micro-business entrepreneurship in the country, and in our community.
I am constantly in amazement and awe of talented individuals (you know who you are, or perhaps you know one), whose ideas spring forth with little or no effort. The trick, if you could call it that, is in moving the idea in to the realm of business reality. Here are some observation points.
I was researching a project for a client interested in capturing some of the essence of how ideas take shape that they could internally explore. I produced several examples and models for them. What I found is that there is a relatively easy to find connection with the ability to ideate, the process of ideation to generate the ideas, and the need to build, and then enable selling whatever the output of the idea translates in to.
The inter-relationship of the overall process, greatly simplified, is there are (a) thinkers, (b) builders, and (c) sellers. For each of those components of the process, there are a lot of ways to approach what needs to be done, and by whom and when, in order to drive the whole process along. Few individual entrepreneurs are well equipped to handle all three of those diverse components.
For example, I found on CNNideas [http://www.cnn.com/video/?hpt=hp_t3#/video/tech/2012/07/25/natpkg-orig-ideas-maker-humble-factory.cnn ] an interesting video from a “thinker” tank project by Dominic Muren, called the Humble Factory [http://www.humblefactory.com/ ] and its sister site, the Humble Fracture, which is positioned to champion the concepts of Open Hardware in conjunction with Open Software to drive rapid market acceptance. In the video, Dominic describes the current situation in the US and in the world, as one of pockets of creativity seeking to build upon the idea and do something with the idea. It is interesting to note that he is emphasizing the builder component of the process to convert idea to reality. He references a new source of makers, the 3D printer market, as an example of how in the last couple of years the limitation of being able to imagine something, and then translate that in to a prototype or working model, or even perform limited production, is in reach of the hobbyist price range.
Examples abound with the 3D printers from a couple of hundred to thousands of dollars. One successful well-known example is the MakerBot company [http://www.makerbot.com ] and its popular user community inventiveness site, the Thingiverse [www.thingiverse.com ]. Another very successful producer of the devices is 3D Systems [ http://www.3dsystems.com/ ] covering hobbyist to fully scalable manufacturing class systems.
These sites highlight the growing community of entrepreneurs that can have the idea, and have it translated in to a tangible solid form for further discussions about its merits and possible markets. Those tools give the thinkers mentioned above, their ability to add the making component, the building, to their mix of capabilities. The remaining component of selling remains a topic for serious discussion in an upcoming installment of this column.
So, again, to all the entrepreneurs with ideas, consider how you approach making them. Lots of potential solutions are out there for you to choose which would work best for you, even if you need to still find someone else to handle the maker part.
Although creativity knows no bounds, generally speaking, the making and manufacturing does have bounds, but there are options and solutions available, so do not let that part of the process derail or discourage your attempts to create the next Hula-hoop, widget, or some other saleable item.
Next time, we will have some more information for potential entrepreneurs to share in an attempt to get your juices flowing and move your ideas along.
attempt to get your juices flowing and move your ideas along.