Got an Idea to Sell? How to Approach Companies and Sell Your Ideas to Them

If you’ve got a wonderful idea, you think will seriously improve operations in a particular niche and you wish to sell your idea to a big company and make your bucks here’s some little advice for you.

Is the Idea Going to Improve Their Bottom Line or Business Processes?

Before you get all excited about your wonderful idea ask yourself some question. One of them is the one we just asked. You will need to clearly define how your idea is going to help the company.

- Will it save them substantial amount on operational cost?
- Will it help them sell more and make more money?
- Will it eliminate accidents at the manufacturing plant?
- Will it help the company in efficient use of raw materials?

And more. Find out what, in concrete terms, you think your idea will be doing for the company you intend to sell them to.

Do You Wish for Outright Sales or a Profit Sharing/Percentage Stake Agreement?

Let’s say you stumbled upon an idea that will help an oil company save more money by eliminating spillages. how do you intend to sell it to them, you can decide to sell all your rights to your idea for a one time fee or plan to sell in a profit sharing method where you take a certain percentages of all revenue made from the savings your idea generated.

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In many cases, it is always easier to sell outright for a fee; companies always prefer that so they can gain full control especially if it is a new technology that promises to give them an edge. Still, if you are the ambitious type, you may want to get a deal that will ensure you make money for the rest of your life or as long as the company operates profitably.

Getting Your Ideas Protected

Depending on what your idea is you can get a patent or trademark to protect your idea and ensure that no organization or person uses it without your permission. Getting a patent or trademark in Nigeria may not be so easy due to bureaucratic bottlenecks but if your idea is worth it (maybe is a new technology) go ahead and protect it before approaching the companies. Get a good commercial/intellectual property lawyer to help you file papers and quicken the process.

How do you get to the decision makers of your target companies?

While starting out life as an entrepreneur, one of the things I found frustrating was the near impossibility to get across to managing directors and CEO’s of medium and big sized firms in Nigeria.

The secretaries and assistants always made life difficult for you especially if they sense you are small fish. Several years ago it took me and my partner about 2 months to see a top manager in one of the banks concerning a proposal we submitted. The secretary was always asking us to go and check back later. One day we hanged around the bank until we saw the manager coming out to where his car was parked, quickly as lightening, we got to him before the security could stop we and quickly introduced ourselves and our mission.

That was the turning point for our proposal. He directed us to another senior official to discuss details. I tell this short story to let you know that to get across to the CEOs and get them to invite you for a chat on your idea you have to be creative and proactive. Meeting the person who can take a decision on your idea is the first big step. Then you will need to have and present a very strong case in less than five minutes to convince him. That is for another article.

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