So you’ve got a great idea for a product and are finally taking the next steps towards turning your concept into a business. By now, you likely have a solid idea of what your product will look like, how it’s made, and what problems it can solve. However, turning it into a business can be a little more complex than actually developing the initial product. The manufacturing process can be tricky to navigate, especially for budding entrepreneurs. With that in mind, here’s what you need to know about manufacturing your first product:
Conduct Thorough Research
Creating a new product and building a business around it is exciting, but the majority of new businesses fail within five years because they failed to conduct proper market research. Your idea might seem solid to you, but your target market needs to be clearly defined. Sometimes, hiring a market research firm is best. You also want to get feedback from your target market before you begin putting anything into motion.
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Sometimes, entrepreneurs are blinded by potential and excitement, and they fail to consider that their creation may not be as useful as they think. Attending trade shows in your industry is a great way to gain deeper insight into your market, meet potential manufacturers, and connect with your audience.
It’s also important that you research each potential part for your product. For example, when it comes to tech products, there are hundreds of options in terms of printed circuit boards. You can design your own circuit board, or outsource its design. You should also use a components search engine to search for different parts and make comparisons in cost and quality.
Consider a Prototype Manufacturer
Prototypes will play a crucial role during the early stages of building your company. A working prototype gets you the product validation you need before you continue building out. After all, a concept can only take you so far. Prototypes also allow you to work out the kinks in the product before you go ahead and produce a large quantity. Prototype manufacturers work with companies to create an initial product that can help them score investment deals and file for patents. They tend to cost less than traditional manufacturers and offer a more niche set of services geared towards businesses launching new products.
Protect Your Intellectual Property
Your intellectual property is very important. If you’ve ever watched investment shows like Shark Tank, you understand that one of the first questions investors want to know before they strike a deal is what patents the business has on hand. Before you start bringing people into your production process, you need to protect your intellectual property and have a strong non-disclosure in place. This prevents other people from copying your idea or releasing information that could hurt the long-term success of the company. Copyrights, patents, and trademarks are the heart of your business, and this shouldn’t be taken lightly. You should work alongside a dedicated lawyer in the IP niche who can guide you through this process.
Find the Right Manufacturer
Once you’ve got your prototype, protected your intellectual property, and validated your market, it’s time to find the right manufacturer for production. Knowing what type of manufacturer to go with can be difficult, and one of the first choices you’ll have to make is whether you want to stay stateside or go overseas. Of course, there are pros and cons to both. One of the biggest reasons businesses go overseas is to keep costs down. However, staying local gives you a marketing boost and makes it easier to speak with manufacturers in person and build a trusting relationship.
As a new business, chances are you’ll want to keep costs low without compromising quality. In this case, be sure to consider custom costs and potential delays, as both could impact margins and slow sales. Furthermore, it’s critical that you don’t make early novice mistakes when it comes to overseas manufacturers. Always ask to see their certifications and verify them with the state in question.
You should also be on the lookout for brokers—these are companies that act as middlemen between clients and the real manufacturer. Some brokers call themselves manufacturers, but don’t deal with product at all. Ideally, you’ll have direct access to your production line, which will speed up communication and increase accountability.