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StrategyDriven Tactical Execution Article

Making Your Way Through The Product Development Minefield

We all buy products on a day-to-day basis. We go into shops and see things on shelves that were created by other businesses. It’s likely you’ve seen things on shelves or seen a lack of things on shelves and wondered what it would be like to make your own product. Imagine walking through a store and seeing rows and rows filled with something you created.

This whole concept of developing a product has been around for centuries and remains a popular business model to this day. It’s popular because anyone can create a product, all you need is an idea to kick things into motion.

If this sounds like something that appeals to you, then you’re reading the right article. Throughout the course of this piece, we’ll take a look at some of the main concerns in product development. You’ll be faced with numerous little things that can go wrong or cause harm to your product. It’s your job to navigate through the entire process without stepping on any mines at all.

So, without further ado, here are some of the main things to think about when developing your product:

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Originality

Originality is very important when you’re developing a product. If you can’t make something that’s original, is there much point in creating anything at all? If a product is a copy of something else, then there will already be loads of the same product on the shelves, making it hard for you to get a share of the market as you compete with already established products. To be a successful entrepreneur you need to add some originality to your products so they’re set apart from the rest.

It’s important to note that you don’t have to come up with a completely new product idea. This is almost impossible as a lot of things have already been done. What you can do is take ideas from existing products and then put your own spin on them. For example, you may see something and think it would be a better product if it were designed in a certain way. This is you taking something, and making it original by changing key things about its design. This helps differentiate your product from the rest and gives your item something that others are missing.

Staying with this point on originality, you also have legal issues to think about too. If you directly copy things from others, you could be in trouble with their legal team. Some companies patent certain things and copyright the use of things too. So, if you copy this or use someone else’s product name/logo, you can get sued for a lot of money and have your product taken down.

Product Safety

One of the biggest mines you need to dodge revolves around product safety. As the creator of a product, it’s your responsibility to ensure you release something that’s safe for everyone to use. If this isn’t the case, then you will run into problems down the line. You may get away with releasing your product, but it could get flagged up by consumers for being unsafe. As a result, you will end up having to remove your product from shelves and stop selling it.

As you can imagine, this will set you back massively, and cause you to lose a lot of money. So, you must take all the steps possible to ensure your product is safe and can pass any safety test thrown at it. A lot of entrepreneurs are starting to use Failure Mode and Effects Analysis to help create their products. This is simply a method that helps you identify any failures with your product and fix them before you release it. It’s essential you don’t release an unsafe product as it will result in bad things for you and your company.

StrategyDriven Tactical Execution Article
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Total Product Cost

Possibly the biggest concern will be the overall cost of your product. More to the point, just how much does it cost to make a single product? This plays a huge role going forward, as it determines how much you will sell your product for. You need to sell your product for more than it costs to make it if you want to earn a profit. Otherwise, you’ll just lose money every time you make your products.

How do you calculate the total product cost? Well, it means you have to add up all the different costs that occur during the development stage. This includes adding up how much it cost to purchase all the raw materials you used to put your product together. Then, you have to consider the labor costs too. Do you have employees or did you outsource some of the labor work? Either way, it will cost you money, and you need to add this to the total costs. Finally, add together all the overhead costs you incurred too. This is everything else that’s not included in the first two costs. For example, the cost of advertising and marketing your product.

You need to take all of these costs and look at how many products you managed to create, as well as how long it took to create them. This helps you establish the cost per unit of each product. In simple terms, it shows you how much each product cost to make. Now, you’re in a position to use this figure and work out how much you can afford to sell your products for. The reason the total product cost is important is that it can decide if your product is successful or not. If the cost is too high, then you’re forced to sell your product for a high price, which can put a lot of people off. You must work to keep costs as low as possible without compromising on the quality.

The world of product development can be a minefield. There are many things lurking unseen that can explode in your face at any moment. So, it’s crucial you prepare yourself for these things and ensure you navigate the minefield successfully. Then, you can release a great product that makes a lot of money.

StrategyDriven Entrepreneurship Article

Three Successful Entrepreneurs: The One Thing They’d Have Done Differently

It can be assumed that if you manage to make your business into a success, you made the right call at every point. You can look back over the road to your current position and feel happy, confident that everything went exactly as you planned it.

Except, that’s not necessarily the case.

One of the key traits of a successful entrepreneur is someone who understands what they have done correctly, yes. However, perhaps the most important ability is to understand what they have done wrong. To paraphrase an old quote; those who ignore history are doomed to repeat it.

For prospective entrepreneurs, learning the missteps of those who made their business flourish can provide invaluable insight. So, taken from three very different industries, let’s delve deeper into the one thing three very successful business owners wish they had done differently.

THE CRAFTY ONE

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Anna, 42, began her business completely by accident – and those are her words!

“I made a blanket for a friend of mine,” she explains. “They put a photo of it on Instagram, and it went sort of viral really – or as viral as a blanket can anyway! The home community really embraced it and my friend put me in touch with people who wanted to buy their own.”

Now in her second year of business, Anna’s company is flourishing and now employs three members of staff. “We work remotely,” she says, “they do a lot of the marketing side – that’s not really my thing. I like to make the blankets and I take some of the photos too. It’s definitely important to hire people you trust, who can do things that you can’t.”

So what does she wish she’d done differently?

“There was a time when I had so many orders that I couldn’t meet them all,” she reflects, with a tone of regret in her voice. “I ended up having the orders be late, and there were some angry customers as a result of it. The one piece of advice I’d give is that communication is everything,” she emphasizes the last point. “If you’re going to be late, tell people. I didn’t and some of those I was late with never bought from me again. It’s by far my biggest regret.”

BUILDING SUCCESS

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“I knew from the moment I started working as a bricklayer that I wanted more,” Michael, who is 58 and has owned his company for 22 years, “it just wasn’t good enough for me.”

To try and pursue his idea of working for himself, Michael went back to school. “It was tough,” he says, “I’d been earning a steady income for a few years by the time I went back. I had to juggle that job and the course, which messed my life up for awhile. I needed business qualifications, though, and that was the only way to get them.”

By the time Michael was in his early thirties, he had some business acumen and managed to convince a bank manager to take a risk on him. “I got a startup loan,” he explains, “I think the guy liked me. Doesn’t work like that anymore, but back then, you could convince someone to take a shot. Thankfully he did, and now I employ about 20 staff permanently and another extra 10 laborers over summer. I’ve been lucky.”

So what does he consider his biggest mistake?

“Not being quick enough to adapt,” he admits. “Being an older guy, I got a bit stuck in my ways about a decade ago and lost some business because of it. I was really resistant to things like laser surveillance and Turbo Sockets. It was slowing construction projects down, especially when I was doing renovations and speed was of the essence. The solutions were there – I just didn’t want them,” he laments. “I was convinced the ‘old way’ was the best way,” Tony continues. “I shouldn’t have done it. Move with the times. The annoying thing is that when I did, I realized how much easier those kind of gadgets can make life – what an idiot,” he rolls his eyes at his former self. “Now I’m the first one jumping in when there’s some new gadget I can play with. Customers don’t respect you if you don’t innovate.”

So don’t be afraid to adapt to changing times? “Absolutely,” he concurs. “Times change. If you don’t change with them, you’re done for.”

THE STYLED EYE

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Melody, who is now 30, has run her personal style consultancy for three years after a slow start. “I’m no more qualified now for anything than when I left school at 18,” she admits. “I didn’t even have relevant experience!”

She works for herself, though took on a secretary in January. An accountant does her annual tax returns, but the rest is up to her. “My biggest mistake is thinking that wasn’t possible,” she explains. “I was involved in a business in the same industry for a few years. I hated it, but I was so scared to try and go it alone.”

So how did she manage it? “I saved everything I could,” she recalls. “It wasn’t quick – it took me about a year to get all the cash I needed. I had to forgo my social life for awhile, which was tricky, and I got delayed as I took three months out when I had my daughter.”

Nevertheless, she managed to build up “about six months’” worth of expenses in savings. “With that behind me,” she continues, “I quit the company and cashed out my shares. They weren’t worth a lot, but it was a jumping off point. Then I started marketing myself as an individual to clients. About 40% chose to come with me, which is more than I ever dreamed.”

Establishment didn’t come quickly for Melody though; it wasn’t until her third year – the most recent – she turned a profit she could live on. “I’m okay now,” she says, “I got into some debt and had to double down and work hard, but it’s clear and all is looking good. I’m booked up for the next three months anyway! If I had my time again, I’d definitely take the jump to working by myself much faster – I’d be so much further along by now if I’d done that.”

Hopefully there’s some lessons from this trio of entrepreneurs’ that you can take into your own adventures in business!

StrategyDriven Entrepreneurship Article

Furnishing An Office On A Budget

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Moving into an office can be expensive, especially if you’re having to buy all the furnishings for the first time. Tables, chairs, computers and other machinery can all add up. For those on a budget, here are a few tips for furnishing that office on the cheap without it looking cheap.

Get equipment on lease

You can often save money on expensive machinery by hiring it instead of buying it. This can be particularly useful for industrial equipment that you rarely use, or machinery that you may only need on a temporary basis. Rental companies can also often provide the most high tech equipment – equipment that would often be far too expensive to buy.

Learn to share

There may be some items that you can share. Having multiple printers could be a waste of money if you don’t have to print things off often. Similarly, not everyone may need a phone by their desk. If your office is open plan and people aren’t calling every minute of the day, having a few phones dotted about the place may be all you need. Consider also buying long desks that allow multiple people to share, rather than individual desks for each person. Encouraging a more communal feel could be beneficial in many social businesses.

Look for online deals

You can often find online promotions on office furniture if you’re looking in the right places. There are many sites such as DontPayFull.com that sell coupons to be used on tech or furniture. It’s worth also keeping an eye on social media for office furniture businesses doing competitions or promotions.

Second-hand furniture can also be worth looking into. You can often find ex-business owners on the likes of Gumtree.com trying to flog office desks and other equipment that they no longer need. When buying second-hand items online, always make sure that they supply detailed information on the condition as well as pictures. If you can meet up in person first, this might allow you to check the condition for yourself first – useful with expensive industrial equipment or heavy furniture.

Hit the sales

Various times of the year are brilliant for buying new office equipment. If you’re looking for computers or electronics, Cyber Monday usually has some great deals. The January Sales is also prime time to save money on equipment – the demand is very low during this period as companies are just recovering from Christmas, and so office furniture companies have to compete hard against one another to get sales.

Go paperless

Going paperless isn’t just good for the environment, it saves costs. Sharing everything digitally will prevent the need to buy a printer and all the other costs that come with it. Less printing also means less need for storage such as filing cabinets and shelves. Everything from handbooks to contracts can be made digital. You can even sign documents digitally nowadays using the DocuSign app. Trial this out to see if it works for your business.

StrategyDriven Entrepreneurship Article

Build Your Small Business Brand in 10 Easy Steps

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1. Define what your brand is

Find your niche in the market. What are the special requirements or problems that your customers have and how can you help them to solve that. In order to do this effectively, you need to find out about brand competitive analysis and why you need it. This will establish what makes you unique.

2. Personify your brand

Think of your brand as a person who has their own distinct personality, opinions, beliefs and look. This helps you to build a picture.

3. Emotive brand positioning

Who does your brand hero-worship? This will shape your identity in all of your brand materials and communications.

4. Play the long game

Establishing a brand is a sprint and not a marathon. Dedicate some time to the planning stage. Make sure that you can deliver what you promise. This helps you to build long-term trust.

5. Be consistent

Experimenting with styles may be fun but it is confusing for the client. If you are consistent it will reinforce your brand character and people will know exactly what to expect.

6. Do not be boring

Whilst consistency is a good thing, being boring is not! Don’t just say the same thing over and over again. Instead, you should stick to the same message but find innovative new ways of stating it.

7. Coping other brands is not acceptable

Imitation may be the sincerest form of flattery but this is not the case in the business world. You can get into serious legal trouble by copying people. It also does not make good business sense. Consumers are on the hunt for brands that are original and authentic. They are looking for something that matches their beliefs and lifestyle. Many of the large brands have picked up on this and are trying to look like small independents.

8. Be bold and seize the day

The beauty of running a small business is that you do not have layers of bureaucracy to wade through when you want to make a change. This makes you supremely flexible and adaptable and enables you to react to changes in the market quickly. This gives you the edge over big business.

9. Don’t look cheap and desperate

It is always a good to offer discounts to attract customers but it is possible to overdo this. You risk diluting your brand positioning. As an alternative to cutting prices, you could offer more for the same price. This adds value without looking cheap. Promotions should be targeted and short-lived.

10. Try not to be too obvious

The days of printing your logo on everything and hoping for the best are over. Generate some intrigue and be a little more subtle and mysterious.

StrategyDriven Entrepreneurship Article

Don’t Fail At Retail: Tricks For Beating The Competition

Launching a company in the retail industry is harder today than ever before. That is because lots of consumers purchase their goods online these days. Still, you can keep everyone happy and make a decent profit if you’re smart. In this article, we’re going to discuss some tricks you can use to ensure you always beat the competition. Like it or not, there are many established firms out there with large customer bases. While you don’t have to steal the lion’s share of the market, you will have to attract some of those consumers to your brand. With that in mind, read this post and put some of the suggestions into practice as soon as possible.

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Photo courtesy of Liam Matthews via flickr

Launch a website as well as a real-world store

It would be nice if you could make a decent living from a single shop. However, that isn’t likely in the current climate. So, all new retailers need to launch a website too. Thankfully, you won’t have to invest that much cash because some designers offer excellent rates. Still, you need to make sure you’re getting a professional product. Your website should provide a catalog of your products and allow online purchases. It should also contain a live chat feature that enables customers to contact your team in an instant. Don’t make the mistake of trying to create the website without expert assistance. People will spot an amateur design from miles away.

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Accept every payment type possible

The last thing you want is to lose out on a sale because you don’t take the customer’s preferred payment method. With that in mind, you need to receive money from credit and debit cards at the very least. Find a credit card merchant services review if you want to identify the best providers. You should also consider letting people pay using their PayPal account. BitCoin has also become a popular method in recent times. So, it makes sense to incorporate that too. With a bit of luck, you will never have to turn money away again.

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Undercut your competition on price

Starting a price war with your competitors is rarely a wise move. That is especially the case if they’ve been around longer than you. Larger companies will always manage to undercut you if you catch their attention. Even so, that doesn’t mean you can’t beat some of your rivals on price. Just don’t make the mistake of undercutting them too much. A dollar here and there can make a significant difference to consumers. So, you should notice an increase in sales and new customers when you drop your prices. Just don’t go mad with the idea because it can backfire.

If you employ all the tricks mentioned on this page, you should stand a decent chance of success. Nobody wants to fail at retail because you often have to invest a lot of money to get the operation off the ground. You could lose everything if you get the process wrong. Considering that, we hope you manage to achieve all your business goals this year.