Before you think about manufacturing a product and creating a retail package, qualifying that there is consumer interest in your product should be tackled first.
Is it enough that relatives encourage you? No.
Many successful entrepreneurs receive little encouragement from family and friends. Initially there is a great deal of compliments and suggestions. But, people generally dislike change and starting a business is a big change for everyone who interacts with the person starting the business. So it isn’t likely that every person with a product idea will have the support of others throughout the building process. As in anything you do there will be ups and downs. Having a support system, a partner, multiple people you can gain encouragement from and help in solving the problems you will face is imperative. It isn’t always someone familiar. A vendor who provides essential information, a mentor with experience that you don’t have will all play a role in launching your product or service.
Get Real Proof Your Product Has a Market Before Investing a Lot of Money
I attended a Meet Up for Inventors at DAP Headquarters in Baltimore. It was a fantastic presentation about product development. The title of the meeting was "Concept to Product". That intrigued me to encourage 2 other associates to join me. For more than 20 years, I have worked with clients who develop and launch new products. I hoped for some unique insight from the client side that would be beneficial to my start-up, entrepreneurial clients. I was not disappointed.
Marketability of a Concept Is the First Step
At the Meet-Up, experienced product developers talked about what it takes to create a successful retail product that people want and stores will place on their shelf. They clearly said their first priority was to qualify product marketability of a product concept product. Being a dominant brand is not a guarantee that the product is going to sell. Even more shocking, even the best product doesn't mean it will sell. I have worked on products that didn't make it past concept stage. Those customers had deep pockets and contacts with buyers which provided them advantages start-ups never have access to.
One of the speakers was Brian Le Gette, founder of 180. The greatest advise he wanted to offer at the Meet-up presentation was to "Fail Fast, Fail Cheap". Talk to industry experts and prospective users of your product to determine whether the product has a chance on the shelf before investing a lot money. Too often excitement clouds reality and inventors sink a lot of money into product development without having basic qualification of product marketability. You don't have to know anyone in the field because you can find them at trade shows. You can research companies and and find people worth talking to on Linkedin. And go to where your end users to qualify true potential of product success to find out whether you should invest time and money.
The experts at the event all agreed, some of the best product concepts don't make it to the shelf.
Don’t be your worst enemy. Don’t lie to yourself that your the only person with the concept. The convergence of influences guarantee your idea is being developed by multiple companies. The first to market has never been more true than now because of technologies influence on the speed at which innovation is happening. If you have watched Shark Tank you have heard many pitches by inventors passionate about their idea who have invested a significant amount of their own money but don’t get an offer from one of the Sharks. Passion isn’t enough to convince someone to become your partner and it won’t convince a customer to buy your product.
Innovation begins with an idea that benefits people that instigates them to buy it. Prove that it has that ability in the beginning and throughout the whole development process. The benefit is immeasurable for product design, branding, marketing and profitability.