There’s a really hackneyed way that this article could start off — “every product or building or concept ever created first started as an idea. It was nurtured by its creator until one day it became a reality.” In truth, we all know that businesses don’t just spring up from the ground. No one planted a seed and the Apple HQ just sprouted forth from the topsoil. To say that “every product came from an idea” is to patronize the entrepreneurs who may one day create those products, and it infantilizes those who already have.

No, what is really is mystery is everything in between. You know reality comes from ideas, but how do you get from Point A to Point B? Some vague ideas may pop into your head, but what’s the real (yet general) roadmap you need to follow once you’ve got an idea you want to turn into a true, bonafide thing?

Research

First, you’ll have to do your research. Market resource is incredibly important to nurturing your new idea. The first question you always need to ask of your idea is this: will anyone care but me?

This may seem harsh, but it’s a pratfall that many entrepreneurs and creatives fall into time and time again. If you’ve got a squeaky refrigerator door hinge and you create a device that stops this incessant noise, that’s great for you! But who else is it great for?

Market research is about finding out what your idea is really worth, who will find it valuable and why. Once you have all of these questions answered, you’re ready to move onto the next step.

The Technicals

Here is where we get into manufacturing and creating. First, it’s important to investigate patents. It doesn’t matter if you’re creating a tangible product or looking to market a service, it’s important that you see what patents are held related to what you’re trying to create. Do you need to invest in your own patent? Or are your services not related to copyright or intellectual property.

Creating a product vastly differs depending on what that product is. Tangible products have to go through a prototype phase, which means making something over and over again until you get it just right.

Also remember that throughout this journey you’ll be looking for investors to back your idea. These people will believe in you and what you’re doing, and they’ll want to fund you so that your idea comes to fruition. Without backers, who’s going to be paying for those prototypes and patent lawyers?

Once you’ve gone through all these steps, you now have an important decision: do you want to manufacture your product, or do you want to license. With manufacturing, you yourself are creating and selling the product on your own. Licensing means selling the rights to your product to someone else so that they can do all the heavy lifting for you.

This may not be specific to any one market, but this is the bare bones roadmap from taking you tiny idea and turning it into a big product. Finding success means understanding your market, marketing to an audience, knowing how to sell and understanding other business concepts. Do you think you’re ready to show your own product to the world?