Ideas are the bread and butter of every hungry entrepreneur. Countless titans of industry before you have carved out their niche in the market through innovative thinking, and it’s time for a new generation of movers and shakes to stake their claims. Nearly 70 percent of startups were begun in their founders’ homes, so don’t let the lockdown get in the way of your next big idea. Ideas, however, don’t simply become moneymakers all by themselves — you need to bring them into reality in order to make a business of them. For first-time entrepreneurs, this can seem like a daunting task. No entrepreneur was ever born ready to take their idea out on the open market, and many failed along the way. If you want your idea to make a mark, here are five tips to help make it happen: Identify your problem. Consumers today have more products than ever to choose from — why would they want yours? Today, customers are no longer taken with slick branding or flash ads; people have problems that they want to solve, and ideas that can solve them are guaranteed to be successful. In 2013, Boyan Slat identified two opposing issues: the Earth’s oceans were overflowing with plastic, and yet demand for plastic products was skyrocketing. His solution? To found The Ocean Cleanup, a worldwide project that extracts plastic from the ocean and reworks it into responsibly recycled products for consumers. By targeting an issue and tackling it head-on, The Ocean Cleanup has gained worldwide attention and a highly dedicated customer base in the process — if your idea doesn’t solve a problem, it’s not likely to attain either. Tell your network. The idea may be all your own, but what comes next will almost certainly not be. If you don’t share your concept with others, you may not ever receive the kind of constructive criticism that can turn a good product into a great one. Reaching out to people in your circle for advice is a valuable exercise, but you can go even further than that. Think about the various aspects of your idea you may not be an expert on: you may know that you want to structure your eventual site a certain way, but you can’t quite do the web design yourself. Get advice from specialists you know; their advice can help you understand which parts of your idea are feasible and which need more work. Know your customers. As good as your idea may be, it needs to be bought in order to be successful. If you don’t know who’s going to be buying your eventual product, then you’ll have no idea who to have in mind during the development process. By keeping the final consumer in mind when fleshing out your idea, you can be sure that there’s a pre-existing market for it once it’s deployed. Many of today’s most successful new products aren’t intended for general use but are instead developed with specific users in mind. Gabb Wireless, for example, has developed cell phones for kids that have many of the features children would want while implementing a host of safety controls to put parents’ minds at ease. As you develop your idea further, think of who will buy it and how you can tailor the eventual product to their wants as consumers. Prototype and test. No product ever sprung out from the laboratory, fully formed and ready for store shelves — just look at this early iPhone model as an example. Your idea may be an absolute knockout on paper, but you need to know how it would function in the real world before you take any big leaps. While there are a number of great prototype designer agencies, your budget may not allow you to fully invest in one. Your prototype doesn’t need to be flashy: it just needs to demonstrate to others what your final product will be capable of. Focus on the necessary features and add to them as you move along. Map out your path. Let’s say you’ve finally finished the development process — what comes next? Your idea and eventual product is worthless if it doesn’t get deployed effectively, so you need a comprehensive plan in place for making sure that it does. Outline what you expect your path forward to look like, and be sure to account for any potential contingencies that might arise along the way — not doing so could cost you big time. Turning an idea into a product is a hefty task for an entrepreneur to cut their teeth on, but there’s no better introduction into the world of business. By focusing on what makes your idea different, you can stand out from the crowd and establish a market for yourself along the way. Ready to take the leap? I sincerely hope you succeed!