For some entrepreneurs, bringing a “product” to market is easy: they just sell their skills. The accountant, tutor, and SEO professional can all sit down at a computer and begin making money immediately, so long as they have customers.
Life, however, isn’t so straightforward for entrepreneurs who want to bring a new product to life. He or she has to go through multiple steps before they can satisfy the needs of the market. And the process can last months.
The Ideation Phase
The first step of the process probably doesn’t seem like much of a “step” at all – at least not in the traditional sense. Often it isn’t something that an entrepreneur deliberately sets out to do. Instead, it is something that happens. An idea hits you like a bolt of lightning, and all of a sudden, you know that your life is going to change considerably.
The ideation phase, however, is essential. It’s where you find out whether your idea has legs and if there’s a real market for it.
The Research Phase
At the research phase, you’re not so much thinking about the concept, but whether you can practically implement it. You might have a great idea, but if the technology isn’t sufficiently advanced to make it a reality at a reasonable cost, you’re stuck. You need a plan.
The research phase is also about collecting feedback from the people who might wind up buying whatever widget you eventually make. You want to know things like how much they’re willing to pay, the features that they want, and the types of materials you should use.
The Prototyping Phase
For many entrepreneurs, prototyping is the critical phase. It’s at this point that you discover whether your design makes sense or not and if you need to go back to the drawing board.
It’s also the stage where you need to start thinking not just about development but risks too. As McMath Woods P.A. points out, product liability lawsuits are a significant issue for startups. Just like everyone else, they have a duty to ensure that their products fall safely within the law. The prototyping phase is where you discover whether you need to make significant revisions to your ideas or not for safety reasons.
The Sourcing Phase
If you want to sell your products to a lot of people, you’re going to need a factory and supply chain to make it happen. You could try and set all this up yourself, but it’ll cost you. Most entrepreneurs, therefore, go to third-party manufacturers who have the skills and tools to create your design.
For many, this is the trickiest part. If you decide to manufacture abroad, you not only have to deal with technical difficulties but language barriers too.
The Costing Phase
The final step in the process is figuring out how much your operation is costing you so that you can set an MSRP. You’ll want to consider factor costs, shipping costs, and the number of units you expect to sell in a year.