7 Steps to Jumpstart Your Consumer Product BusinessDec 30, 2020
written by Josanta Gray Emegano
There’s no time like the present to start your consumer product business. Customer preferences are always changing, leaving ample room for entrepreneurs to capitalize and flood the market with innovation. Developing a consumer product may seem like a daunting task, but the cost of starting can be significantly lower compared to other businesses since everything from manufacturing to marketing can be outsourced. If you have a specific product or idea that can serve a niche audience, follow these seven steps to jumpstart your business:
- Create a unique product idea. While important, an innovative idea isn’t enough to launch a successful business. Take a moment to examine other products that are similar to yours in the marketplace. When you walk down the bread aisle of a grocery store, you will see hundreds of the same product. Clearly, there’s room for everyone, but what’s going to make your product stand out? What are your key differences compared to your competitors? Answering questions like this early will help you justify the price point and target demo of your products later.
- Create and register your business name. Think of a business name that reflects your product category, but not a specific product type or niche. For example, if you were to name your business Wonder Rye Bread LLC, then you’d be naming your company after one specific type of product – rye bread. What happens when you want to expand your product assortment to include wheat, sourdough, or croissants? It’s best to choose a name that’s unique (ex: Wonder Bread) but allows you to be nimble with product expansion ideas. As an aside, you will want to learn the pros and cons of the various legal structures that are available to you (ex: sole proprietorship, LLC, corporation).
- Register the business domain & design a website. Ever have a great idea and then find out the domain is taken? As soon as your stroke of genius hits you, buy the domain! It’s usually no more than $20/year on websites like GoDaddy, Google, and Squarespace. When you’re ready to launch, you can use designers on websites like Fiverr to help you create the site. Or, you can also cut costs by using the templates provided by your hosting site!
- Research and choose manufacturers. Choosing a manufacturer is arguably the toughest and one of the most important steps in this process. Finding a reliable manufacturer can help establish stability and quality in your business. Customers want to buy from brands that mirror their morals and values. Therefore, be stubborn with your product goals and ensure all of your partners uphold these same values (ex: cruelty-free, clean-beauty, vegan materials). You don’t have to work on this step alone. Check out From Gray to Green’s FREE Fashion & Beauty vendor list which includes over 100 vendors for you to vet against your top business needs and prioritizes.
- Negotiate and finalize contracts with manufacturers. Don’t be afraid to negotiate your contract terms with each manufacturer. For example, ensure the manufacturer is held responsible for any issues that occur in the production line. They should be held responsible for any defects that could lead to a product recall. Additionally, you’ll want to establish a delivery timeline and understand who pays for damaged products when items are shipped. You should expect to pay some upfront costs related to the cost of the materials and the tools required to manufacture your product. However, before spending any money, make sure you enroll in the How to Build a Product Business course to learn all of the questions you should pose to your manufacturer before signing on the dotted line!
- Test your finalized product. Your work isn’t done yet! You will need to share your new product with a small group of consumers to gain feedback. This is your time to understand if your product truly addresses the problem you set out to solve. Take your products to a place where your consumer base hangs out and ask for opinions on the product.
- Develop a marketing plan and launch. Your marketing strategy should reflect the best ways you can reach your target market. Your marketing assets should clearly demonstrate how your product will satisfy your customer’s needs. You’ll want to think through how will people learn about my product? What channels should be used to promote the product? How much of a marketing budget should I set aside? You won’t have all of these answers immediately. Some will take trial and error. In the end, it’s important to launch and adjust as needed!