There’s nothing quite like being a small business owner. You’re the master of your own little world. It means you can finally achieve the ideal work/life balance everyone strives for. But that doesn’t mean it’s easy.
Owning a small business means the buck stops with you. And that’s amplified when you’re creating a new product to sell. It needs to be a success. But we’re here to help. Following our outline will help you go from idea to launch and create a successful product for your small business.
Let’s get started.
Step One: Ideation
When creating a product from scratch, the initial idea might be the most crucial part of the entire process. So you need to take your time and develop a product with legs.
- Brainstorming Ideas: While you might go into the ideas phase knowing precisely what you want to create, throwing a couple of options around is still essential. If you have a trusted group around you, use them to get more ideas. Two heads are always better than one.
- Market Research: Once you have a few possible products, research. This is where you’ll find out whether that blossoming idea will bloom into a market hit. Market research means you can get a general gist of whether your product will make money.
- Identify A Unique Selling Proposition: Market research will allow you to identify how the competition sells their versions of your ideal product. What sets your product out from the crowd? Is it the brand customers are buying into? Does your product fulfill a need other variations of it don’t?
Step Two: Define The Product
The ideation stage allows you to form a solid base idea to jumpstart creation. Now’s the time to nail down all your product’s moving parts. The things that are going to become the bones of your final product.
- Identify The Target Market: Taking an idea from a form to something more defined starts with your customers. Nail down your exact target market. The more you know, the better you can tailor your final product.
- Creating A Product Roadmap: A product roadmap outlines everything at your idea’s core. It should include the vision, direction, priorities, and how the product might progress over time. Essentially, it’s a plan of action.
- Determining Features And Benefits: Now you have an outline for your product. It’s time to nail down features and benefits. Use the information gathered about your target market to create something people want.
Step Three: Prototyping
It’s time to take your product from idea to reality. The prototype stage is all about creating something physical and smoothing out any creases that come up.
- Create A Prototype: The prototype you create can be physical or digital. But it’s worth doing a few versions of it. This’ll allow you to see correctly what’s working and what isn’t.
- Get Feedback: Gathering a pool of potential customers to get feedback is invaluable. They’ll give you an unbiased view of the pros and cons of your product. And it’s better to get these opinions now when you can do something about them.
- Prototype Iterations: Use the information gathered to create iterations on your original product. Doing this allows you to improve on your original idea each time and troubleshoot any issues.
Step Four: Design And Development
Your prototype allows you to create a physical version of your product. And sort out any problems before it reaches the market. Now comes the fun part. Design and development.
- Creating The Product Design: Good product design brings everything together you’ve learned so far on your journey. What makes the market tick, what worked at the prototype stage, and what aligns with your company values?
- Developing Software Or Hardware: If your product needs specific software or hardware to function, now’s the time to figure it out. Even if this isn’t your forte, you can get outside support to ensure it’s done right.
- Testing And Quality Assurance: Test the limits of your product. Find its breaking point. Knowing these things lets you either fix or advise customers about them later. This is where you find out if your product is fit for purpose.
Step Five: Manufacturing
As a small business, you’ll need to bring in the big guns in the manufacturing stage. Depending on your creation, you might be able to do it at home. But generally, manufacturing en masse needs something purpose-built.
- Choosing A Manufacturing Method: Your chosen method depends on your product and budget. Knowing these will help you quickly sort the wheat from the chaff.
- Finding A Manufacturer: Choosing your manufacturer can depend on a few things. Most notably, your available cash and your brand ethos. Just ensure you choose someone who can do the project right.
- Production Timeline: Once you know who’s making your product and how you can build a timeline. This allows you to forward plan when you might be able to launch and what you need to do between now and then.
Step Six: Branding And Packaging
Branding is everything. It can convince your customers to take the plunge on a product they would otherwise have passed over.
- Create A Brand Identity: You might have done this already when you started your business. But if you didn’t, you need to do it now. It should speak to who you are as a company and communicate that visually. It’s also an excellent time to get a copyright lawyer to protect your product.
- Designing Packaging: Use your brand identity to inform your packaging. It needs to feel like it came from your company. And if your product is fragile, it needs to be kept safe.
- Marketing Materials: Now you know your product, what makes it tick, and how it’ll look to the customer. It’s time to develop marketing materials. Think slogans, product images, and calls to action.
Step Seven: Pricing And Sales Strategy
This part can be difficult. Price points and sales strategies can be muddy waters to traverse. So use your market research to inform. And don’t hesitate to get outside help.
- Setting The Price Point: Take info on what other companies are selling similar things for and use that to create a competitive price. But always ensure you’re actually making money. So take into account any costs the item incurs.
- Distribution Channels: Are you selling the product directly? Are you doing wholesale? Maybe you’re doing a bit of both?
- Sales And Marketing Plan: This information will help you create a sales and marketing plan tailored to your product. Define where your time and energy are best used.
Step Eight: Launch Planning
The time to plan for your worldwide launch will come quickly. And you need a solid plan to make sure it’s done the right way.
- Preparing For Launch: Ensure your website is ready, the team is prepped for customer queries, and your marketing strategy is in place. Figure it out now, so you don’t have to figure it out on the day.
- Launch Timeline: Make a timeline for when everything will happen. That includes when your marketing materials are going to be sent out. For effective marketing, some must be before launch, some during, and some after.
- Metrics: Establish metrics to measure the success of your launch and product. Without these, you won’t be able to capitalize on what went well and what needs improvement.
Step Nine: Launch Day
It’s time to let your product spread its wings and fly!
- Launching The Product: Follow your established timeline to launch your product. And make sure to have people who can help you troubleshoot if anything goes wrong.
- Monitor And Adjust: Is something not working quite like expected? Be flexible and ready to change it up if need be. There’s no need to continue on a path if it’s not as effective as you expected.
Step Ten: Post-Launch Evaluation
The big day has come and gone. So now you have to put on your analyzing hat and evaluate how everything went.
- Analyze Success: How did the launch go? Was the product a success? What could you have done differently? Does the product need a rework?
- Data And Feedback: Use analytics, data, and customer feedback to determine your successes. And make sure to identify areas that need improvement. Whether that is about your product, your brand, or your marketing.
- Plan For The Future: Possibly the most critical step. You should use the information gathered to determine where the product can go. Use it to improve and plan for future product iterations.
There you have it. You did it. You made a product and took it from idea to launch.
No one said having a small business was easy. But it sure is worth it. Remember to evaluate every step of the way to ensure your product is always on brand, meeting expectations, and filling a niche in the market.