As a general rule, businesses can be separated into two distinct types:
- Services businesses. These businesses provide services to people. Graphic designers, writers, internet installations, stores both online and off, TV coverage, and web design are all examples of services businesses.
- Product businesses. These businesses manufacture and sell their own products. They may sell their products to other companies who then sell on to the public, or they may run their own store and sell directly.
Services businesses are far more common than product businesses these days, meaning that a huge amount of business advice and guidance is targeted towards those in the services industry.
However, what if you want to do something different? What if you’ve got a great idea for a life-changing product, and you need a little advice about how to bring it to market?
If the above applies to you, then have no fear– here’s a six-step guide to help you turn your product idea into a reality.
STEP ONE: Innovation
The first stage of producing a product is to think about what it is you want to make. Here are a few areas to consider:
- Have you experienced any problems in life that you think a product could solve?
- Have you bought a product in the past and think that the design could be improved on?
- Have you ever used a product and thought it would be great, if only it did X thing?
- Have you ever looked for a product that you want to buy, only to find that no such thing exists?
All of the above questions can be the launching point for ideas. Ultimately, the best products provide a solution or an improvement to an everyday situation, so keep this in mind as you go through your ideas.
STEP TWO: Design
When you have had the idea for your product, you now need to move onto the tough part; the actual design.
You do not need to have a background as a graphic designer to put together plans for a product. Provided you have a basic idea of how everything should work, you don’t need to worry too much about the in-depth details such as what hinges you want to use or the benefits of different plastics.
You just have to have an overall vision for what the product should be; a vision that you can explain, with diagrams, as you move into the next step.
STEP THREE: Prototype
Your next step is to bring your plans to life, which means you are going to need to find a manufacturer. Your first step is to produce a prototype; an item that can prove the idea is sound and worth progressing with.
Ideally, you want to find a company that offers CNC prototyping, especially if you are designing a small product. The acronym “CNC” stands for Computer Numerically Controlled; these machines can offer far greater precision that any machine controlled by the human eye, so this should definitely be your first choice.
When you have your prototype, you should be ready to move on to…
STEP FOUR: Market Research
Your prototype now needs to be seen, discussed, and critiqued– ideally by the kind of people you hope will buy the finished product.
Many entrepreneurs turn to their family and friends for their opinions. It is important to recognize that this is not sufficient market research. Your family and friends are not going to want to disappoint you, so there’s every chance they will tell you that something is good, wonderful, and doesn’t need any changes. That might sound nice, but it’s not what you need; you need genuine opinions.
Opening yourself up to market research can be difficult; you may hear things that make you wince. However, you need to know what people think of the product — both the good and the bad — so take a deep breath and collect the data you are going to require.
You can use online consumer surveys for market research purposes, run questionnaires through your own website, or hold in-person meetings and invite members of the public to attend. You will usually need to pay the participants, especially if you are looking for in-person market research feedback, but this is an expense that is worth it. The opinions of others are vital, so don’t skip this step.
STEP FIVE: Refinement
When you have your market research data — and your own experience of the prototype — it’s time to go back to the drawing board and refine your product. The chances of you producing the perfect product first time are very slim, so don’t see this as a defeat; refinement is just a necessary step you’re going to have to take.
You may need to produce a second, third, or even fourth prototype before you settle on a finished product that you’re confident will succeed. Again, there is nothing wrong with this– it’s better to go through multiple prototypes than manufacture an expensive, finished product that no one wants to use.
STEP SIX: Ready To Market
The final step is the exciting one. You have your finished product in hand; the end result after months of planning, thinking, strategizing, and innovating. You’re now ready to take this product to market.
There are various different ways to sell a product. You can create your own online store; you can sell to a distributor for wholesale prices; or you can look to sell directly to retail stores. Or you can do all three; there are really no limitations. Whatever you choose, you can be confident you have put the requisite work into producing a genuinely good product. Hopefully, this work will be reflected in sales, and ultimately, profit for your business.
If you have always nurtured ideas about making your own products and weren’t sure where to begin, hopefully the above information has been helpful to you, and shows a way forward to the business future that you have always wanted.Published in