Developing a product is the first major step required to getting your new business off the ground. At first, it seems like an extremely cumbersome task, but when you break it down into 5 simple steps you’ll quickly realize it’s actually fairly simple. The 5 steps are:
- Idea Validation
- Product Development
- Market Testing
Step 1: Brainstorming
The first step in creating a new product is brainstorming. The first thing you must do to figure out what product you’re going to create is by first figuring out what need you are going to solve. A product that does not solve a need will be extremely hard to sell.
So, what kind of needs are there? There are all kinds. They can be obvious needs that are difficult to solve, like your laptop running out of battery or your car using too much gas.
There are also a lot of less obvious needs that take the shape of a desire. These needs are generally more creative than technical. For example, a comfortable shirt or pair of shoes with a specific design you like but haven’t been able to find.
There are some great tools to help you brainstorm ideas such as Google Trends and Google Keyword Planner. You can look at what people are searching for and how that search volume has changed over time to see profitable trends.
Once you have a need you are trying to solve, you will create a list of ways you can do so! The key to brainstorming ideas to solve a need is allowing any idea you can think of to be put on the list. This will allow you to be fully creative in your ideas.
Step 2: Idea Validation
Now that you have a need you are solving and a list of ideas on how to solve it, you need to figure out which of your ideas you should pursue. While this may be the most boring step, with the market research that is required, it is also the most important.
To validate your ideas and ensure your product will be a success you must figure out what your competitors are currently doing and if what you are providing will solve the problem better for at least some of those people. Quora is a great tool to see if people are looking for a solution that your idea will solve. If there are a lot of questions about the problem you are solving, all of them are potential customers.
Another great way to do this is to go to your competitors amazon page and scroll through their reviews. These reviews will give you massive insights into what their paying customers like and dislike about their product. If your product does some of the things their customers are complaining about, you’ve got a great starting point!
Step 3: Product Development
Now that you have found an idea you know solves a need actual people have and are willing to spend money on, it’s time to get your hands dirty and make that product. First you want to make a prototype to test your idea. There are some great consultants you can use prior to making your product to ensure it is possible.
Once you have a prototype, you need to test the functionality of the product to ensure what you designed will work as you had intended. Typically a prototype will take a couple iterations before you arrive at an MVP (Minimum Viable Product) to begin selling.
Step 4: Market Testing
You can now use your prototype to test the market. Here is where you try to get your first sale to validate whether or not people will spend money on what you made. It is crucial to conduct this step prior to getting your product manufactured in bulk to reduce costs. Once you have those first few sales, it’s just a matter of scaling what you did to get those and creating more product. There are so many ways you can test the market.
Measuring Test Performance
To assess performance in the test market, management needs to know not just the volume of sales, but also the nature of those sales: where they are coming from, and what levels of retail distribution are being achieved.
Step 5: Commercialization
The only step left now is figuring out the best way to scale up your operations. You’ve already made some money and confirmed people will spend money on your product, so it’s time to order a large amount of your product directly from a manufacturer. Manufactured.com offers a better way for brands to manage their contract manufacturing so they don’t have to spend a significant amount of money. Manufactured meets brands in whatever stage they’re at in order to help get their products to market.
You will also need to ramp up your customer acquisition process to keep bringing on new customers. If you used some advertising to get your first few customers with success, it makes sense to continue doing that. You can even find some great freelancers to help you with this process without the headache and commitment of making your first hire.
Now that you have all the information to create a great product and build a successful business, all you need to do is get started! Typical costs and timelines for developing your product will vary wildly depending on what type of product you are making, but the majority of your costs will usually come during product development and market testing. Always plan to have some unexpected delays during these phases as well. With that said, the best day to start is today to ensure someone else doesn’t make your product while first.