When you are becoming an entrepreneur, there are so many questions that come to your mind and feeling lost is a very common sensation. Luckily, we are here to help! Read on for answers in our question & answer session, Ask Fred.
Feel confident with the people you’re working with. If you are cooperating with Chinese manufacturers, it’s a good idea to do it through a middleman from the USA. Then you will have feedback about other people’s experiences with them.
Before you build the prototype, you should have completed the engineering process, so you know you have something buildable. The best option is to find a good engineering firm that will walk you through the process, do the design for you, tell you how much it is going to cost, and who the potential manufacturers are. One thing you should have in mind is that engineers will build what you tell them to build. They will not research for you, understand your customers, or design a better product than the competitors have.
If you don’t have really solid answers to all of those things and have a strong go-to-market strategy then forget about the prototype. Because you’re going to have a prototype that you can keep on your mantle and show your grandkids.
It is almost impossible to go cheap on prototypes because they cost a lot of money. They can be a lookalike prototype or a functional prototype, or both. Think about what is the purpose of your prototype and try to get them as cheap as you can. Maybe you will go to investors, do a crowdfunding campaign, use it to get pre-orders directly on your website, or give it to your manufacturer so they can see what you expect to get.
Get a patent after you have something that can be engineered. This can be a provisional or utility patent. Once you’ve gone through the whole engineering process and you have this beautiful patent and the next question is: “How do I find a manufacturer?” The truth is you will need connections, either from a partner or an engineering firm. Don’t try to do it on your own. Partner up with people that can help you.
Large multinational companies can spend up to $10 million to bring a product to market. As an entrepreneur, you most probably don’t have that capital, but you will find a way to make it work. You can borrow money, get investors to work with you, or link up with affiliates. Check out companies like ShareASale or CJ Affiliate that promote your product and charge a percentage for it.
If I’m bringing any product to market, I would love to have a good $25,000 to $50,000 for my initial launching and to carry me on for a month or so. You should have an additional $10,000 a month for advertising and marketing budgets that’s an ideal situation for a small organization. Marketing is crucial because it is the only way to bring traffic and draw attention to your product.
There’s a book called the Art of War where you can study the fundamentals of marketing.
“You can’t go into battle without understanding what your resources are, who your competitors are, and why your customers need you.” – Fred Cary
Study your competitor’s weak and strong points. Use them to your benefit. Learn everything you can because that’s the only way you will be able to compete in the market. Don’t skimp on the advertising.
“Marketing is the blood and the heart of any organization.” – Fred Cary
Don’t submit your idea to engineers is the best advice I can give you unless you know what you’re doing. Investigate your idea, do all types of research, and make sure you are solving a problem you want to solve. Get some help in the process as well.
A trademark attorney will help you with this for a $600-$700 fee. As soon as you find a name, investigate it, and do a preliminary search in the trademark office. There is a big chance you will get it wrong. There are many different variables to look at that it is always useful to double-check through someone who has more experience in this area. You can have the same name as a company that is in a different class, but you can’t have the same name as the company in the same class. Don’t take too much time, though. As soon as you have an available name you are happy with then go ahead and trademark it.
When you are new on the market, no one knows how your product works, tastes, or feels… yet. The way to change that is to attract their attention with branding, messaging, and logo. If they stop and think, “This looks great, I want to find out more about it!” You are on the right path and if it has great packaging with a great product inside then people will come back for more.
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