If you’ve finally decided to turn your idea into a full-blown business, congrats!
You are one step closer to becoming an entrepreneur. Remember, the road to manufacturing is not as easy as it looks.
To turn your idea into a viable business, you need to know how to make a product correctly.
The Key to How to Make a Product is to Follow 3 Goals:
- Make a product that solves a problem at an affordable price
- Offer a product that customers love and are passionate about
- Keep the overall manufacturing and product development costs in check
Want to turn your dream into a profitable product? Follow these simple steps.
1. Have a Great Idea and Plan
How to create a unique product that customers love is a common question in the minds of many entrepreneurs. Well, it seems like a small issue, but it is something that you will want to be sure of before you start investing your money and time.
Start by creating a simple business plan that will act as a roadmap for your product goals and what you will need to do to achieve them.
Remember, potential customers want to invest their money in something valuable. So, does your product fix an issue, or solve a problem in a novel way? Think about what you want your product to be, who would use it and what are its uses and applications, the target audience.
Remember, bringing your product to market can be much tougher than creating the right product design. So, always make products that people will enjoy and use.
- Never compromise on the material quality
- The Look and Feel of your product is important
- Set quality checkpoints as soon as you get materials and parts
- Always hunt for ways to improve your product assembling
- If possible, hire an advisor to help you through the manufacturing process
2. Do In-Depth Research
Whether you are starting from scratch or have been manufacturing on your own and now want to go to the next level, it is essential to know how to manufacture a product idea using competitive research and analysis.
a) Initial Patent Search
Just because you have not seen your invention somewhere else does not mean it does not exist. Thus, before you hire a patent lawyer, do an initial patent search for free at https://www.uspto.gov/ to confirm that no one else has already registered your product idea.
For more details, Check out my article on How to Patent an Idea.
b) Market Research
Before you invest your money and time, it is important to do preliminary research of your target market. This will help you get a feel for the size of your market, and you can see what other businesses with a similar product are doing to make their product stand out in the market.
See my article on Marketing Research and Strategies here
- It’s a good idea to talk with customers in your niche, and see what they think of this kind of product.
- Go to trade shows dedicated to the product niche you are interested in. It will help you make essential connections with manufacturers and distributors in your space. Talk with people. You’ll be surprised at what you can learn at trade shows. You may get the next big idea to take your product to the next level.
- Compare the cost of your product with similar products in the market.
3. Create a Product Design
After you have decided what you want to make and who will purchase it, now it’s time to prepare your first product design. Remember, a good innovator creates an excellent product that fulfills the needs of consumers.
Keep your product design simple when it comes to creating an aesthetically pleasing design. A complex design can make the development and usability of your product too difficult and costly, especially in the beginning.
Did you know 93% of the companies that used 3D printing were able to achieve a competitive edge? Therefore, it’s a good idea to find a savvy designer near you. He or she will use 3D CAD software to help you craft professional product designs in less time and at affordable rates.
4. Make a Product Prototype
Think of a prototype as your first draft. It will be beneficial as you begin your research and prepare a meeting with potential partners. Remember, your prototype will not be perfect. But don’t worry! It’s okay. It will improve with time. However, it’s a good idea to get feedback from others at each stage of the process.
Potential customers will always find quirks and issues with your design that you may never find.
It will help you make your product better before its launch. How many prototypes you will require depends on the resources available and your product goals. You can make tiny revisions and simulate them in a 3D CAD program, like Solidworks.
- Start with sketching out all your ideas into a journal.
- Prepare a mockup sketch for the 3D model.
- If your prototype is very expensive, it may be a smart idea to use a computer-animated prototype.
Below is an example of a prototype designed using Solidworks software. Once your designer makes the drawings to your specifications, you can 3D print most of the parts needed, or ask your designer to help source the products that can’t be 3D printed.
5. Prepare the Final Design using a 3D Printed Model
Once you are satisfied with the mockup, create a full-working 3D printed model of your idea.
This will allow you to make changes cheaply, test, and even sell the product before you build a mold.
In fact, 3D printing of your product is an excellent way to keep costs down and still prove out the prototype design.
No need to purchase a 3D printer, there are many online services that are more cost effective.
- Use modern 3D modeling software, like Solidworks
- Hire a skilled 3D CAD designer to refine your product, ask to see samples
- Create high-quality animation of a product for effective advertising, and mockup pictures
6. Sourcing Product Materials
The next step in manufacturing a product is to choose a material that buyers will love depending on the manufacturing products list. It is where you need to use your creativity and think about which materials are the best to turn your product into a market hit.
- Make sure that the products you are manufacturing align well with the expectations, interests, and personality of the buyers.
- Get familiar with the area regulations that may apply to your product. For example, California State is more restricted as far as material and environmental worries.
- So if you are planning to create your product here, try to identify how compliant your product will be. For this, you can do a quick internet search for every material that you are planning to use.
7. Find a Good Manufacturer
It is crucial to pick the right manufacturer as per your needs. The wrong manufacture can result in inferior quality products, delays, and, in a few cases, even loss of business. Your goal must be to pick a manufacturer that also helps you in preparing your prototype. Finding a manufacturer to make your product may not be easy.
Here are some tips you can follow to help vet a product manufacturing company:
- Check references
- Search the small business network of your niche
- Get referrals from your fellow entrepreneurs on forums or social media platforms
- Look into directories such as ThomasNet, Oberlo, Maker’s Row, MFG, Alibaba, and Kompass.
- Get help from your product’s local association and carpentry association.
8. Screen to find the Right Manufacturer
After preparing a list of the best manufacturers, narrow down your list by comparing timelines, rates, and production processes. Do not hesitate to ask any questions you may have on your mind.
A manufacturer that answers your questions in a timely fashion is a good sign.
Once you are ready to approach the manufacturer, take into account the following things:
- Do you want to manufacture your product overseas or domestically? Both of these options have their own advantages and disadvantages. Remember, if you are on a budget, working with international producers may be the best option.
- How will you manage all the manufacturing processes overseas?
- Do you want direct contact with the manufacturer or want to delegate this task to the agent?
- What % returns can you afford to take?
- What will you do with returns if they cannot be repurposed or do not biodegrade?
Also, make sure you take into account customs and time when planning out the production process. This can sometimes lead to delays, and this will make a significant impact on sales.
I find using a broker can be a great idea. They already have relationships with overseas factories and can make the process smoother.
Upwork is great for this. Look for someone with a high rating and invite them to your job. Interview them and discuss your project. Ask if they have manufacturing factories they work with.
Also, make sure your factory gives ownership of the mold to you. This way you can transfer the mold to another factory if needed, without having to go through the huge expense building another one.
How to approach a manufacturer with your product idea?
Approaching a manufacturer with genuine product idea can be challenging. However, here are some of the questions that you can ask before choosing the manufacturer for you:
- What experience do you have in this niche?
- What is the minimum order quantity?
- What is your pricing?
- What is your turnaround time to produce my product?
- What are the available payment methods? Is a deposit required?
- How many orders have you placed yet?
- Who are the clients to the whole you are currently working with?
- Do you outsource or make materials in-house?
- Can you handle the materials sourcing, or do I need to offer my own?
9. Draft an NDA (If Needed)
Having a great idea is worthless if you do not have any evidence of when you came up with an innovative idea. So before you bring in more people into your production process, make sure you draft a non-disclosure agreement (NDA). This legal contract will offer a high level of protection against other agencies from imitating your unique idea.
Especially if you are creative businessmen, intellectual property is the heart of your business. Thus, you need to make sure that it’s well protected. In fact, you are planning to seek trademarks, patents, and copyrights; think about how it will affect your intellectual property.
If you don’t want to create an NDA, then don’t disclose certain details of your design or concept.
In addition, you can ask yourself the following questions:
- Have you created a valuable logo or brand?
- Do you need to use designs that come under copyright protection?
- Write down everything you think is associated with your invention.
- Do not skip to mail it yourself in a sealed envelope so that you have ‘dated proof’ of your invention.
- Document your idea in the journal of the inventor and get it signed by a witness.
10. Know People you are Going to Work With
Since manufacturers are a vital part of your business, it is paramount that you know them before you start any work with them. Use phone, emails, and translators initially to know everything about them. You may also want to visit them personally to know more.
It’s also a good idea to make a quality control checklist of what is acceptable and what’s not. Share it with your selected manufacturer or designer, and make sure he or she agrees for penalty-free shipping in case of any delay.
Once you are done with this, now it’s time to move ahead and call your manufacturer to make your pro hit successfully in the market. Make sure you take small steps when working together.
Tip: Do not hesitate to pay the best manufacturer a little extra.
11. Ask for Project Quote
Once a non-disclosure agreement is signed, if needed, you can send your product sample and design files to the manufacturers and ask them to offer quotes for the project. You need to make sure that you are providing the maximum amount of valuable details to the manufacturer so that you get a decent quote at the end.
When comparing quotes, ask yourself the following questions:
- Does the quote include shipping, duties, and customs fees?
- What is the tariff code for the product?
- What is the sample price?
- How much do extra taxes and duties cost you?
- How much time will it take to fulfill my order?
- Make sure you maintain a good relationship with your manufacturer, he is the person to whom you will send your prototypes, specifications sheet, 3D models, and detailed drawings.
- Know your Free on Board (FOB) pricing if you are dealing with an international manufacturer.
- Always get at least 2 quotes from different manufacturers.
- More than one quote can help you negotiate with another factory that may seem expensive, and if something happens, you have a backup.
Have at least 2 manufacturers make a sample or CNC model of your design, this may cost a bit more, but you will be glad you did if something happens with one of the manufacturers.
12. Pick a Factory in the Right Location
If you fail to find the right factory, your product idea may struggle to get off the ground.. So find a factory in the best geographic site for generating your product. Also, make sure that you are comfortable with the level of support, responsiveness, communication, and help they offer.
For this, you can decide whether you want to manufacture domestically or internationally. It may make sense to not have all your manufacturing centralized in one place.
Remember, there is no right answer when it comes to making your product in the U.S. or overseas. The ultimate decision comes down to your budget, personal preference, patience, and kind of product.
How to find a factory to manufacture your product?
When picking a factory, look for the following features:
a) Excellent Knowledge and Experience
Always pick a factory that understands the market well and answer all your queries on time.
Identify does the factory does work for big retailers and brands? Does it have any regular fines? If it’s overseas, how high is the turnover rate, and what are the labor policies?
It’s best if you work with the factory that wholly understands all your unique needs and the one that you can trust completely.
- Ask for a copy of the manufacturer’s business license
- Hunt a registered province
- Search for their record using the agency’s registered name.
- See if the factory has its own website
- Check their reputation in open databases like Global Sources and Alibaba
- Ask them if they have attended trade shows
- Perform a search on Google with their name + fraud word.
Advantages of US Manufacturing
Did you know that United States manufacturing is the largest across the globe, producing 18.2% of goods in the world? Yes, it is more than the entire economic output of Mexico, Canada, or Korea.
Also, producing your product in the United States gives you more control than you will need for the production of your product. You can go to the site directly and keep an eye on everything. Here are other perks:
- Short turnaround time
- Result in environmental sustainability
- Better Safety and Quality Control standards
- Flexible payment options
Disadvantages of US Manufacturing
- Restricted production
- Cost-competitive, labor and production costs may be higher
Advantages of Manufacturing overseas
Manufacturing overseas is much more affordable than manufacturing products domestically. There are also other advantages of manufacturing overseas like:
- Low overall cost
- Mass production
- High variability
- Flexibility and scaling
- Simple to find
For example, China is typically the cheapest way to make a mold. You might build your in China, then have it shipped locally to build the parts.
13. Take Small Steps in Product Development
Creating your product on your own takes plenty of money and time. Remember starting a business is not a race. You need to take it step by step. Many entrepreneurs get stuck in the cycle of frequently evaluating ideas.
Finally, they end up with imperfect products. So the key to success is to prevent haste and keep on moving forward. Having patience with the details, and focus, will pay off in the end.
Follow the manufacturing mantra – ‘crawl, walk, and run.’
14. Test your Product Continually
Your products are not going to be perfect in the first iteration. Also, you can’t sit in a room and expect that people will like your product. You need to make alterations to it with time.
Remember getting critical feedback is vital to identify if the products cater to the needs of buyers, is priced right, and is aesthetically pleasing.
a) Test it yourself
Since you will be the one using your product the most, keep little flaws in your mind. Also, while testing your product, always keep a voice recorder or journal with you. It will help you keep track of your whole experience with the product.
b) Try Real Customers
The great way to figure out the changes is by testing it with real customers. Bring your product to a group of people, ask them to try and give feedback. You can also be a part of industry conversations.
Make a Youtube video of your prototype showing off its functionality. See what feedback or ideas you get.
c) Ask your Friends and Colleagues
- Explain its use and tell your tester, to be honest about whether they would like to buy it, how they would like to use it, etc.
- Use the feedback to refine your product.
- In case the feedback is incredible, it’s time to manufacture more copies of your product in order to sell it.
15. Launch your Product with a Good Product Name
Finally, it’s time to launch your product. Congrats! But to have a successful launch, you need to make sure that you have a good product name. Also, it is vital to fill the gaps.
Did you know 72% of the best brand names are made up of words or acronyms? Also, there is no surprise that naming things is tough, mainly when it comes to the product. So here are some golden rules to follow:
Detail every specification (such as components, size, color, etc.) on a specification sheet and pass it to your manufacturer. This sheet will give him or her every detail and prevent any confusion as well as flaws.
Did you know 85% of manufacturing marketers are using content marketing to boost sales? So make sure you include this trick in your marketing strategy.
- Choose the product name that is easy to grasp and pronounce
- Make sure your product name gives people the idea of what your product does
- Launch your product at the right time
New product launch on social media is the best way to promote your product to a broad audience. Also, remember timing is everything. You will need to set your timeline in advance of your launch date. It’s a perfect idea to begin planning the social media launch campaign near about one month before the actual launch.
Did you know 25% of users watch live videos to stay informed? In fact, Facebook Live videos get ten times more comments than regular videos. So make sure you use a Facebook live feature to captivate your audience.
17. Package it Right
Did you ever wonder why people select one product over another? In some cases, it’s due to impressive packaging. Yes, it’s true!
Always remember packaging is as vital as the product itself. This is your customers’ first impression of your product. It must not just display your brand, but also appeal to the buyers.
Do the packaging right and find an affordable option. As per Help Scout, a typical business hears from only 4% of its dissatisfied customers. So make sure you do it right to convince your target market.
Here are some other packaging facts to keep in mind:
“70% of consumers form their impression of a brand wholly on product packaging”.
“52% of people say that they are ready to pay for a little extra for a product if they like packaging”.
“30% of business reported ROI boost when they enhanced their product packaging”.
18. Pick the Sales Outlet
Deciding where to sell your product is one of the toughest decisions you will need to make. There are three ways to sell your products:
b) Local Shops
Online is the best way to market your products, there are tons of people online, and this becomes easy for anyone to reach a broad audience. No matter which platform you pick to sell online, make sure you use high-quality pictures of your products and detailed description to lure buyers.
You also need to take into account how your orders will ship and how the customers will receive the product. If you are wondering how to create a product to sell online, keep the following things in mind:
- Finalize your website design, logo design and packaging
- Build Inventory early if you’re selling in the last quarter of the year
19. Create an Interesting Flyer or Brochure
Did you know as per Direct Marketing Association statistics, as many as 79% of people retain, share, or look at the contents of a flyer? Another 48% of people state that they take action after flyer advertising.
So make sure you craft an eye-catchy business flyer for your product. It is one of the most cost-effective advertising methods and best way to get the word out on different events.
By investing time to create a good flyer design, you will be able to convince an agency that your product is a ’winner’ and even much more.
- Here are some flyer design tips to follow:
- Embrace bold colors and contrasts so that people can see it even at a distance
- Keep it simple
- Make your flyer headline clear, bold, and big
- Take into account two-sided printing
- Do not go below 10 points for body copy
- Use only high-resolution images. I recommend a minimum of 300 DPI on every image printed means background photograph on an A4 flyer would require 2550*3300 pixels
- Use high-quality paper or have them professionally printed
20. Continue Innovating your Product
Even if your product hits the market, it is also paramount to keep an eye on your product. Keep on thinking about what to do so that more and more customers get familiar with it and make a purchase.
Be responsive to Customer Feedback and Reviews.
Innovating your product continually will help you stay ahead of the game. Remember, the better you are able to make changes and improve your product, the more powerful your product will remain in the market.
21. Wash, Rinse and Repeat
Manufacturing a product for selling is an evolving process. In spite of the failure or success, you need to learn and begin it all over again. Each time moving closer to your goals.
Manufacturing a product is not something that you will build up overnight. It needs plenty of initial investigation, resilience, and patience. Remember, most of the products that we use every day started with someone’s idea.
So coming up with a good idea is not enough. You also need to dig into the market, look at your competitors, decide if this is something that you want to continue with or if you are going in the wrong direction.
If your product is an software application “app”, see how to make an app.
Remember, success in the world of innovation is all about getting your timing right. If you wait for too long, someone else will beat you on the same idea and capture your industry. In fact, if your invention is not unique, you might face difficulty in making your product stand out in the market. Use the tips mentioned above for successful manufacturing, production and sales.
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