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The Small Business’ Guide to Pre-Product Development

As a leading supplier of printed labels on rolls and custom product label printing in general, we work with a great many small businesses, start-ups and eager young entrepreneurs. Of course, that means that new product development is dear to many of our customers’ hearts.

With that in mind, we’ve put together a short guide to developing new products for small businesses which addresses their particular concerns, especially their tight budgets and ambitious aims.

#1 First you need a winning idea.

The bad news is, we can’t help you there. We have plenty of great ideas for product labelling, but the products themselves are up to you.

#2 Assuming you have a good idea ...

Even if the idea itself is a winner, you have to ask yourself  ‘can we win with it?’

Consider whether you have the right skillset at your disposal. Do you have people in house already who have the specialist knowledge and practical skills you’ll need?

Do you have the resources you’ll need to make a proper go of it? Launching a new product takes manpower, time and more money than you might expect. Can you divert all of that to the new project without compromising the business you are already doing?

Can you really commit to seeing this through? Especially for a small business, the effort of launching a new product often falls squarely on the shoulders of the owner, founder, or other Grand Poobah. Can you commit to that, even if problems arise in other areas of the business or at home?

Yes? You sure? Excellent! In that case:

#3 Pre-development

There are a few things you should set up before you start the formal ‘product development’ project.

Defining scope – what is the new product, and what isn’t it?

Defining product – what will it do, what will it look like, and how much will ti cost? Get its key features set in stone early.

Defining USPs – how will you differentiate this product to your market? Hy do they ‘need’ it?

Defining schedule – when can this realistically be ready for product launch, and what will you do when (not if) it is delayed?

Defining your pathway to certification – if you need approval of some kind, how will you get it?

Defining production – how many of these will you be able to make? To store? To sell? To keep in the loft or garage if they don’t move?

#4 Identify the risk of failure before you really get started.

There is a lot that can go wrong at the best of times. A few days spent researching and mitigating risks now could save a lot of time and money from being wasted later.

How much demand is there for this thingamabob, really? How much of that demand could you practically supply? Is there enough demand for you to sell your new product profitably? Is there any profit left if you start counting start-up costs against it? Is that demand likely to grow, shrink, or stay static?

Is there (or could there be) any competition? See if anyone else is making a similar product at the moment, or fulfilling this demand in any other way. If not, is there any hint that someone else has your idea, and is also working towards producing a product? Is anything like it even patented or registered anywhere? If the answer to any of those is ‘yes’, then how can you beat the competition?

Will you be able to grow your business to produce this new product as well as your existing lines? Will there be any trouble getting the money you need? The equipment? The skilled people? That last one might be more difficult than you think, especially right now.

Can you produce a series of prototypes? These can help you test market interest better than most other methods. Consider making a model that demonstrates the product’s functionality as well as one that models its final appearance. Some test markets will never be able to look past “it looks ugly”.

#5 Awesome Custom Label Printing (Of Course)

Sorry, had to put that in there. But really, the right labelling should be a big part of your marketing efforts. Give us a call when you get to this step.