Taking an idea and realizing it is exciting. It’s through ideas from entrepreneurs like you that we see manufactured products that help the world evolve. With that being said, it takes a lot of hard work, expertise, and testing before products like these can even start to become a commercial success. As you dive into manufacturing for the first time, keep these things in mind to create an outcome like a champ.
Do your research.
Research can consist of a number of different things. It may start from market research to find out if your product idea already exists and if people will be willing to pay for it. But if you are beyond that phase and know you are ready for manufacturing, it can also mean learning as much as you can about how the manufacturing process works. When you find a manufacturer that you trust and fits your needs, budget, and quality expectations (read 6 Things to Look for in a Contract Manufacturing Partner), it’s very helpful to have at least a basic understanding of the process they will lead you through. You’ll save time, effort, and money if you and your manufacturing partner are on the same page and you can confidently trust their expertise.
Be open minded.
Doing research will allow you to be more open minded and think more critically about your project. It tends to be somewhat common for less experienced entrepreneurs to be quite attached to the original product vision they had. The thing about manufacturing though is that this is when it’s determined if it’s feasible to actually produce your product. Once you’ve found that manufacturer you trust, take into consideration their opinion on your product design. What looks good on paper, may not function how you want it to in real life. You may also find a change in materials or shape can help with functionality or cost. Be open minded to allow for changes that are going to make your product better in the long run.
It’s great to be looking ahead and learning as much as you can, but don’t try to jump into the manufacturing process before you’re at the right stage for it. Realize that it takes a lot of resources, time, money, dedication, to make it happen. It’s much easier when your design is finalized, you have the funds, and your needed volume makes economic sense for the overhead costs related to mass production.
For all of the effort you’ve put into your idea and the hard work spent actually getting it to the manufacturing stage, don’t skip over any key components just for the sake of saving a bit of money or time. You don’t want to look back later on when you have a product that doesn’t meet your vision and have regrets. For example, some entrepreneurs consider jumping over the prototyping phase due to the upfront cost and time needed. However, prototyping can often be critical in figuring out the design for manufacturability. It helps to minimize potential design flaws and quality issues before production. Skipping this step could mean there are still problems that remain hidden until it’s too late or costly to address them. Similarly, deciding on a cheaper material for a component that ends up breaking quickly when it’s used isn’t going to get you many sales in the long run, if you make it to commercialization.
The more changes you make once the manufacturing process starts, the longer it’s going to take and the more money it’s going to cost you. Not to say changes are never necessary during the manufacturing process, they most definitely are and many tweaks will happen. It’s just important to understand that every change made, especially larger ones, will set your timeline back. Save the modifications for when it’s truly necessary.
It takes an army to manufacture, but when it comes down to it, it’s your product. Ask questions, share your thoughts, think logically, be a part of the process—and don’t forget to be excited, you’re making your own product after all.