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Making Money: DORO’s Thomas Edison Week-Day 1

Anything that won’t sell, I don’t want to invent. Its sale is proof of utility, and utility is success. Thomas Edison

Money for Ideas

I wonder what our design heroes such as Granville Woods and Thomas Edison would think about some of today’s inventions. Using the quote above as a measuring stick, I believe they’d be the first to enjoy something as utilitarian as the George Foreman Grill™. In addition to the fact that the machine makes a mean turkey burger, it also has had phenomenal financial success. Tupperware? Gotta consider it a major success – the van is proof.

But in creative industries,  it’s tough to declare our product, which is often in our case an idea, as having  that level of fiscal success. Discussing revenue models, cash flow and margins are often enough to make me cringe when I just want to write. But that’s not realistic. In a recent Fast Company article, Peter McGuinness, CEO of Gotham said that “We still don’t know how to monetize what we do. We don’t monetize ourselves properly, so we don’t hit our margins.” So here’s the question:

If we can’t monetize our product properly, how can we determine success?

Here’s where our creativity can help us – make the model ours. This is the time to determine if we’re using adequate tools to measure and monetize our product correctly. Closing out the accounting books can be sobering, upsetting and scary if the numbers aren’t where you believe they should be. But more importantly, the figures are exactly what you need to set the stage for 2011. Let’s try this:

  • Pick two major projects and look at the time tracking (you do track your time, right?), the billing and the development costs.
  • Review every single aspect of them to determine if your model makes sense – and dollars.
  • If it does, keep doing it and make it better. If it doesn’t take some time to evaluate your plan.
  • Contact a trusted industry colleague or a bookkeeper with experience in your field to help identify revenue opportunities and more efficient practices.

Let’s go!

This week’s posts will be devoted to Thomas Edison quotes and motivation. We’re trying to keep work as much fun as he did. If you have a favorite, please share.

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