Anyone who wants to implement a successful innovation must have their affairs in order technically, commercially, and financially. For example, you must conduct timely research into technical developments, the activities of competitors, and the necessary investments.
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Feasibility studiesThese are studies into the feasibility of an innovation project. This might only concern the technical feasibility, for which you answer questions such as:
- What materials do I need and where can I get those from?
- Do I need outside expertise and, if so, where do I find it?
- Will I need a specific location, such as a laboratory or a factory?
- What costs will be involved?
But a feasibility study can also include market research, checking out the competition and your potential market, and financial feasibility. The outcome of these studies result in a business plan.
You want to further develop your idea, but you need money to do so. Finding financing for your innovations can be difficult. It is risky for financiers, because the prospect is unknown. The government stimulates entrepreneurs to innovate with various options to make it easier to attract financing. Find more information about financing your business, including various subsidies. Is your company a start-up? Then we have some tips for you. When conducting research and development, you may be eligible for compensation of wage costs and additional costs under the WBSO scheme.
Patent searchDeveloping a product takes time and money. Therefore, avoid reinventing the wheel. Research in patent publications can provide you with important information. This allows you to:
- find different solutions in your field, which already exist and are possibly also protected;
- check which companies are active with a particular technology;
- find out the trends and developments in your field;
- get a picture of your (future) competitors;
- discover (possible) cooperation partners;
- investigate which countries are interesting for your product(s).
Should you find that your innovation does not exist yet, you can apply for a patent yourself.
You are convinced of your innovative product or service, but how about others? Market research is the first step of your innovation project and you can do it yourself. This way, you can find out whether there are customers for your new product, who they are, and where to find them. Perhaps you will need to export your product. It is also smart to map out the competition. This will show you how you can distinguish yourself. Your market research forms the basis for your marketing. With the KVK location scan (in Dutch), you can find out where your potential customers and competitors are located. Much information, both about customers and competitors, can be found on the internet. Some sources are free and others involve a fee. You can also engage a market researcher if you do not have the capacity yourself or if you want to tackle market research on a large scale. For more information, read the KVK article on market research.
Customer analysis: what does your sales market look like?You can only sell your product or service when you know who your customers are. With a customer analysis you can visualize your potential customers in as much detail as possible. For example, where your customers come from, what age they are, and how and where they spend their money. Read more about customer analysis.
Competitor research: what do you know about your competitors?
Usually, you are not alone in offering a particular service or product. By researching the competition you find out who your competitors are and what they do exactly. Who are your main competitors? What kind of product or service do they offer and at what price? Where are your competitors? Read more about competitor research (in Dutch).
Distinctiveness: what makes you special?Finally, you determine and describe how you will distinguish yourself from your competitors. What makes your business different? What are you going to do better? Describe the distinctive character of your product, price, promotion, and location. For instance:
- Your product has been produced sustainably
- Your store stands out because of its decoration or special location
- You draw attention and raise brand awareness through a striking advertising stunt
- You have a certain way of working that shines a positive spotlight on your company
- Your company provides great service
Marketing plan: how do you approach your marketing?
All the market research you do forms the basis for your marketing. You collect data about customers and competitors. You use this information to create a plan of action: your marketing plan. In this plan you work out the various parts of your marketing, such as product, price, and promotion. What product or service do you offer at what price and with what promotion? Read more about your marketing plan (in Dutch). Also, do not forget about your online visibility.
Introducing your product on the marketWhen all your research is done and your product has been developed, you will want to introduce it to the market. Before you do, there are some aspects to consider, such as
business partners, taxes, sales and advertising, import and export rules, safety and packaging, and possible permits. Read more about introducing a product on the market.
Where to find supportSeveral Dutch government organisations support you in starting your own business:
- The Netherlands Chamber of Commerce (KVK) provides information on how to start a business in the Netherlands. They can advise you on creating a business plan, carrying out market research, and other matters.
- You will find information about, for example, the investment climate in the Netherlands, the sectors that offer the most opportunities, and possibilities for finding local business partners on the NL Platform website.
- The Dutch Tax and Customs Administration offers you information about which taxes you have to pay and how to keep your accounts up to date. It is possible that you are entitled to special schemes.
- The business coaches of Qredits Microfinanciering Nederland (in Dutch) can advise and assist you in starting up your business. They can also help you to write your business plan.
- Statistics Netherlands (Centraal Bureau voor de Statistiek, CBS) offers statistical information about districts where you can establish your business. CBS has collected sector-specific information that could be interesting for you as an entrepreneur.