Often, inventor mums find themselves frustrated with the baby products on the market and invent their own product to fill a gap – just take a look at the mumpreneur profiles here at Business Plus Baby for some great case studies. The trouble is that the next stage – getting your product manufactured- is daunting, especially as most mums have never done this before and it usually involves working with manufacturers overseas.
Here are five tips to help you along the road to getting your product manufactured:
1. Start with the internet
As with most things these days, the internet is a great place to start learning about getting your creation manufactured. For many product inventors, Asia is going to be the best place to find a manufacturer, especially if you want large numbers and your product’s design isn’t likely to change much over the next few years. But for items with a design that changes regularly where you need smaller batch sizes (e.g. fashion), a local manufacturer might be the right choice. The internet can help you weigh up options like these when you’re in the early stages of your project.
2. …but don’t rely on the internet alone
The internet may be a good place to start learning about how to get your product manufactured, but it isn’t enough. A manufacturer may have a good website but that doesn’t necessarily mean it makes products to a high standard.
There are many risks in manufacturing overseas, for example you’ll need to make sure your product functions in the way you expected and is delivered on time. You can’t control these things over the internet, so you’ll need to visit your prospective manufacturer yourself or get a specialist company (or agent) in your own country to help you. For example, if you’re in the UK you can look at manufacturing in China by Red House Global.
Ask around for recommendations for both manufacturers and agents. You’d be surprised how much knowledge and experience there is among the people you know, both friends (or friends of friends) and on Twitter, internet forums and Facebook groups.
Don’t forget to ask for references from the manufacturer’s happy customers. If they don’t have any then find another manufacturer!
2. Get a prototype
You need a prototype to check your product functions as you expect, to allow you make any final design changes and to test its durability. For example you’ll want to test if it stands up to washing, stretching and any other kinds of wear and tear it’s likely to get when it’s in use. Don’t worry if you can’t make a prototype yourself, you can search online for a business to make this for you.
3. Provide proper documentation and check the documentation your receive carefully, too.
Make sure you give the manufacturer the exact measurements, sizes, shapes, weights and any other information they need to manufacture your products accurately. Don’t allow any room for assumptions to be made. Getting the product right is essential as any items your customers return will eat into your profits.
Make sure you’re very clear on what is included in the price quoted by your manufacturer – does it include shipping, for example? Check how long your quotation is valid for, with exchange rate fluctuations, your quote may only be valid for 30 days.
5. Stay in touch
Don’t just hand over the documentation and leave them to get on with it, stay in regular contact and aim to keep a good relationship with your manufacturer. If all goes well, you’ll want to return with your next product!
Photo credit: Paulien Osse