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8 steps in product development for small businesses

Whether you are starting a new small business or trying to grow your business, you will need to learn how to develop your products. What should you do to get your great idea off the drawing board and into the hands of your customers? Here are eight steps on how to develop a great product.

Brainstorm your idea

At this point you can let your mind run wild and any and every idea is welcome. These will be trimmed through the validation process which will follow. So write down every idea you have. Look at the market trends. If your business already exists do a SWOT (strength, weakness, opportunities and threats) analysis of your business and see if any product ideas come from there. This will also allow you to create a product which is in line with your business strategy.

Screen your idea

Get the appropriate decision makers involved and show them the ideas that you have. They can give you their opinions. They may highlight the pros and cons of the ideas. You can also then narrow it down to your best ideas which will have the greatest potential to give you revenue and that you have the time and resources to produce. This step is important so that you don’t waste money on developing a bad idea.

Develop your concept and test it

Here is where you go to market with your concept and test it. By testing your idea on your true customers – those that have purchased from you before – you can make sure your idea is feasible. Give your customers time to give you feedback. It is important to answer two questions here:

  1. Do they understand what the product is you are trying to sell to them?
  2. Do they want or need it?

From your customer’s feedback you can further develop your idea and also work out what your marketing message will be.

Do a business analysis

Once your idea has been finalized and you need to create a business case. This will highlight whether or not your product is viable. You will look at what the market demand for your product is, who your competition is, what are the costs involved with creating the product and what will be your break-even point? You will also go into the marketing strategy for your product how will you position it in the market? What will the product mix be? And who will be your target market?

Develop the product

This is the exciting part where your idea becomes a tangible product. This is usually done in a limited volume to use to test against the market. You investigate manufacturing methods, how it will be designed and what the packaging will look like.

Test the market

With the prototype created, it is time to test the product with your target market. This testing is different from the screening in that you will use the whole marketing strategy to test the product. The consumer will get the feel for the product as a whole. With the feedback from your customer you can further refine your product.

Commercialize the product

This is the final stage before you officially launch the product to the market. Pricing and marketing need to finalized and the sales and distribution need to be made aware of the new product which is coming to market. You need to make final decisions about the product.

Launch the product

When launching your product to the market, it is important that it is well-thought out for it to be successful. You need to decide where and when to target your primary consumers of the product.

By following these eight steps you will be well on your way to developing a great product.

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