Entrepreneurs and product designers alike have great ideas for the products they want to use as their ticket to a new business venture. However, once an idea for a great product is formulated, the process often stops there. We live in an age where ordinary people invent, create, produce and sell amazing products on a regular basis, however many get stopped along the way because they aren’t prepared when a challenge comes along. Turning your dream invention into a marketable product is a possibility, but you must be ready for what is ahead. If you have invention ideas floating around in your head, read on to learn how you can turn your dream into a real product.
Consider All Possibilities
Sit down and write up all possible outcomes for your product, as well as a detailed product description for any potential investors. As far as outcomes go, consider all of the other products similar to your idea, and actually do an analysis of whether you will be able to penetrate the market. Also consider if your product is something that can be copyrighted and protected by the law. This is the first step in knowing if the product is feasible. If there are a few flaws to work out, then go back to the drawing board. It’s better to consider road blocks during the brainstorming stages instead of allowing them to crush your product after you’ve put so much time and money into the project.
Develop a Prototype
Prototypes are a single manufactured product based on your designs that are used for testing and feasibility studies before the product is mass produced. Developing this prototype can give you a lot of information, such as how much each product is likely to cost to manufacture, what issues were found in the manufacturing process, if the product works as you thought it would, and many other telling signs of feasibility in the marketplace. The cash for developing a prototype can either be taken from the designers own bank account, or it can be collected from venture capitalists. Creating a prototype might sound like a fancy and complicated process, but the first prototypes for many successful products are often constructed out of household items to get a good idea of size, measurement, and material for the product.
Feasibility Studies and Focus Groups
This step is often one that many developers miss if they are not part of a large corporation. Focus groups should be conducted, getting several people in a room that you do not know to test your product. These groups will then discuss any changes or improvements that can be made. Often times, developers will just have family and friends play with their product and use it, which could yield biased results. As an independent inventor, you have to be careful when enlisting help of outsiders to test your product because you don’t want anyone to steal your idea. Find honest people who will protect your idea and give you straightforward feedback that will help you expose any flaws and detect any hiccups.
Once you are ready to produce, you’ll need money for your project and a way to get it into production. Venture capitalists are a way to get seed money and also have connections in the manufacturing and marketing industries. You can find venture capitalists in the form of investing companies or just by searching for some in online databases. There are also programs like Kickstarter that allow you to market your product online and people who want to support you or invest in the product will donate money. Then, when you get enough money to produce your product, these investors will receive their own product according to the amount that they donated. This provides a way for you to get the word out about your product on a much smaller level, but it will also allow you to reach a larger number of investors through the internet.
Manufacturing and Storage Space
If your product is something that you are creating yourself, you’ll probably follow in the footsteps of many successful creators and use your garage, backyard, or basement as your manufacturing warehouse for the first few months of producing the product. However, storage and manufacturing equipment is an issue that many new product developers lack when they begin the entrepreneurial process. Many businesses in their area may also rent storage space in warehouses out by the square foot, creating a drastically less expensive option than renting an entire warehouse. According to the professionals who specialize in warehouse equipment, new inventors can rent equipment from warehouses for a limited time until they have enough money for their own production warehouse or machinery. Lease agreements can also be made with both existing businesses and landlords who are looking for people to rent spaces that they own, so try to network and do internet research for spaces like this.
Produce and Ship
The next and final step is production. Once the logistics of production are determined, the logistics of shipping can be arranged. There are several freelance carriers that are available for hire, but a cheaper option is to sign an agreement with an established shipping company, such as Dominion Freight, Schneider National, or YRC. These shipping companies often offer a per pound or per mile rate, all of which are often reduced when there are more than a certain number of shipments done in a month. Just like insurance or cable TV, it’s usually cheaper to bundle your shipping and delivery services instead of using different providers for each level of the supply chain.
Taking a product from dreams to reality isn’t for the faint of heart—even with careful planning, you’ll hit road blocks and problems. Don’t let little bumps keep you from creating a great product. Yes, it’s tough to keep going when you have limited funds, but that is why careful and detailed planning is necessary before you start spending money. You might have to go back to the drawing board over and over, but you’ll be grateful for your meticulous attention to detail when you avoid problems in production later down the road.