Prepare for production
This is an important step as this is the last step before bigger investments are made. Productions are mainly done in China, who offer very competitive prices but they need high order quantities. An MOQ (Minimum Order Quantity) of 1000 pieces is standard, although lower quantities are often possible in exchange for higher unit prices. But before these investments are done you need to ask yourself many questions to ensure your plan is bullet proof. In this step you want to view your product somebody else’s perspective and detach yourself from your product. Be rational and answer as if you were an external investor. You need to prove that you have the facts and figures as to why this investment is justified. If there are any answers starting with, “I assume..”, “I expect..” or “I’ve seen before that…” or “People have told me..” then question yourself again and see if you can replace them with answers like: “Fact is 20% of the customers would buy my product based on x research done on x people at x locations.” To help you further, here are some more questions to ask yourself before the investments are made; Sales plan Have you spoken to the vendors, the people that will sell your product? What amounts are they willing to buy? Are there any possibilities to sell your product before you start production, with an agreement on longer delivery times? If you are expected to sell fewer products, it might be wise to change production methods i.e. to buy a low cost mould instead of a mass production mould for your plastic parts. Perhaps local production is more convenient for lower quantities? What are their expectations regarding: the product, delivery times, and guarantee policies? Do your suppliers need a fair trade certificate, TuV or other quality certificates? Targeting the right place in the market. This involves the choice of vendors and pricing control. Let’s say you are aiming to sell your product in quality boutiques, how will you control that your product is not sold in the discount shops or in the local supermarket? Or how will you control that it’s not sold below the price that you sell your product on your own web shop? Marketing plan How will you get your product out there in the big world? How will people know that your product exists and what the benefits are? What is your advertising plan? Who will do this for you and what do they cost? Distribution planning How will your product be distributed and how long will this take? Will you choose to store it in a warehouse or can you shorten transport time by flying in products? Customer care and guarantee Who will people call if they have questions regarding your product? There are call centres that specialise in this work, but you do need to prepare them with what they need to answer to which questions. Also what will be covered by the guarantee agreement and what will not? If your product breaks down will your customers be sent a new one, if so who will send it from which location? Production plan Which suppliers are going to make the product? Is everything covered in the contract? What happens if your container ship sinks, how much down payment is due? If your supplier goes bankrupt, what happens to your products? Quality Control/ testing To comply with the safety standards, which testing equipment will we need? Does the factory have this or the Quality Control party? Which specifications do the products have to comply with in order to be ok to sell? Packaging/ manual Ok we’re almost there. How will your product be packed, what information is obligatory to include on the packaging? Which information needs to be in your manual? Finance/ investors plan When all of the details come together in one master plan; there is always a certain risk involved. But if you are pretty sure the market will buy your product and all earlier questions are answered then this will give the final GO for production. Sometimes changes after this point are inevitable, but at least you want to make sure that the changes are reduced to a minimum.