Have you ever thought of launching your own product? You're not alone! A recent Ladies Who Launch survey found that 40 percent of their subscriber base had started a consumer-products business. Do you have a product idea you'd like to explore but aren't sure how to get started or how to finance development costs? Below are three easy ways to start your dream product now!
1. Create a Prototype Yourself and Sell It on Etsy.com
You might consider testing the popularity of your concept by creating a few of them and then selling them on sites like Etsy or eBay. This works well if your product is one-of-a-kind or artistic in nature (like jewelry, handbags, or artwork). Beware that to grow any business, you will need to find a way to scale production and, eventually, you will want to explore other options. Also, you should factor your time into the costs associated with developing your product to determine the real costs associated with product. In the beginning, however, this might be a great way to get feedback and bootstrap your idea.
2. Partner with a Design Firm
Partnering with a design firm is a great way to create a prototype quickly and ascertain whether getting a patent for your product makes sense. It will also help you figure out whether there's an existing patent out there that would prevent you from moving forward with your idea. Even if you are creative, crafty, or artistic, working with experts in designing consumer products is a great way to catapult your idea into something real and viable. You can structure the arrangement in many different days, but we recommend offering a sales royalty back to the design firm as the best way to compensate without paying any cash up front. Other possible ways to partner might include an equity exchange or investing some money up front in exchange for complete control. Make sure you work with a design firm that has experience in developing the type of product you want to develop. And remember: Source at least three offers before settling on one.
3. Start a Service Business to Finance Your Product Business
Many great product companies were first started as service offerings. Think of Martha Stewart, who started a catering business that eventually evolved into a media empire and products for the home that are sold in stores worldwide. What services do you have to offer? A massage therapist might invent the next massage table; a party planner may create off-the-shelf floral arrangements. Think of services you can provide and then ask yourself if you see any opportunities for products that relate back to those services. Selling your services is a great low-overhead, low-risk way to get your idea off the ground quickly while also providing you with the funds to build out your prototype. Good luck!
Text by Victoria Colligan, founder of Ladies Who Launch