No matter what it is that your business does, chances are there is some kind of product which you want to produce in order to sell it on to the customers. Most small businesses start off by having a single product to focus on, but after time you might well decide to expand outwards until you are producing several different products of different kinds, all of which are focused on giving the customer something that they need or could do with in their lives. In this article, we are going to look at the actual process of product development as it stands today in the modern marketplace. You might be surprised at some of the things which are necessary to do in order to bring a product to sale. In any case, it helps to have the clearest possible idea of what is expected before you dive straight in.
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First things first, you need to actually come up with the idea for the product. This might sound simple enough, but it can be one of the harder parts of the entire process, and it is often one that catches people out early on. If you have started a small business, it is likely that you already have some kind of an idea as to what you might want to create for your first product. However, you will still need to run this idea through the initial ideation process, as you want to make sure that it is really going to stick, and you don’t want to find yourself with something that is not going to go anywhere.
That being said, just as many people start new small businesses without any clear idea of what their initial product will be, so this process in those cases will be absolutely essential, and much more necessary in order to get the ball rolling in a larger sense. Then of course you have the situation of an existing business bringing out a new product. No matter how old the business is, the process of bringing out a new product will always be more or less the same – so this ideation will always be the initial thing o focus on and work on if you are producing something new.
That being said, how do you actually go about producing an idea for a new product? Any creatives out there will know too well how hard it can really be to come up with a genuinely original idea – but the good news is that in a business, you often have many heads working together on the same goal. If you don’t yet have this, you should work on getting such a team together – it really is the best way to ensure that you come up with a good idea, and that any poor ideas are vetted out of the process as early on as possible.
One of the best ways to come up with new ideas for a product is to carry out what is known as problem research. This means that you find out what it is that people are having trouble with in their daily lives, and then work to find a solution to that problem. Working this way round means that you will almost certainly end up with customers who would need to or like to use your product, so you are basically giving your product a better chance of survival here. It also means you will genuinely be helping your customers out – something that everyone agrees is always a good thing, and something to be proud of.
Once you have a basic idea, or a set of ideas, it is time to start bouncing it around in the boardroom, and this is where things can get really interesting.
The moment you begin talking about new ideas in your business, you will find problems with it. This can be disheartening at first, but it is actually a necessary and vital part of the procedure – the more problems you find at this stage, the fewer that your customers will find when they actually have the product in their hands. You actually want to wrinkle out all the problems you can at this early stage, so you should encourage your colleagues to be as critical as they possibly can of the product at this point. You will find that this enables you to refine your idea for the product as much as you can – and once you are really happy with it, that will mean that it is time to begin actually creating it, leading us nicely onto the most exciting stage of the early process of all.
This is usually the point that you will start to pinch yourself to see if it is all real. When you begin to make your prototype, it means that your product is actually on the verge of becoming a real thing, and there is no doubt that this can be one of the most exciting times in a small business’ life. However, you need to take control of the situation to ensure that the prototype will actually go to plan, and that means that you need to discuss exactly what you hope to see from the product before it goes into the creation stage.
You will probably find that you need to coach your creation teams quite a lot on the product before they get it right – but again, the prototype is all about finding problems so you can get rid of them early on. However, it is important to make the prototype as close to the real finished product as possible, as you want it to give you the best sense of what the finished product will actually be that you possibly can. Therefore, do not skimp and save on this part of the process. Instead, use all of the best machinery and equipment, get your best minds on it, and make sure that it is treated as a real product which could end up in the customers’ hands. This is the only way to ensure that it is treated in the best possible way. You might even want to outsource certain parts of the creation, such as with CNC machining services, to ensure that you end up with the most professionally polished item that you can. You will find that this really does make a world of difference to how the prototype works out.
Once you have the prototype in your hand, you will probably be incredibly excited to try it out – fortunately, that is exactly what the next stage of the process is all about, and it is one of the most important parts of the process as a whole.
You need to be sure that your product is going to be suitable for your customers, and for the marketplace, and this means that it must undergo some fairly rigorous testing before you do anything of the sort with it. This testing comes in a number of forms; most importantly, you need to put it under the kind of tests which will prove its resilience as a product and its safety for the public in general. However, there is also the testing involved in finally giving it to people and seeing what they think of it. Arguably the best way to do this is with a focus group.
A focus group is a representative group of people who you gather together to discuss your product. You need to allow them plenty of time to play around with the product and use it in the kind of setting it would actually be used in. Given this, you should then receive plenty of feedback concerning what you might need to change and what can remain the same – and in so doing, you should gain a clearer picture of what you need to improve before you put your product on the market in the end. Testing in this way will be a final opportunity to wrinkle out any issues which might have been getting in the way of the product being as perfect as possible. It is essential that you do this if you are to end up with the product that you initially dreamt up in the first part of the process. If you do, you will be much happier with the final result.
Once it is ready to put your product on sale, you need to first create the necessary excitement through a proper marketing campaign. In all likelihood, you will outsource this to the most part, but it is still a good idea to get to know the basics of marketing yourself, so that you can have a clearer sense of what you actually need to do in order for the product to sell as well as possible. Marketing is all about creating hype, and that is why you want to do this before the product actually goes on sale. As long as you do that, you will find that your product is much more likely to have the success that you obviously want for it – and you will be able to ensure a brighter future for your small business as well.