New product development is the cornerstone of a business. It doesn’t matter if you have digital products or items to manufacture, there are similar steps to help you not only develop a great product but get it to market and in the hands of the right people. Here are some critical steps you’ll need to take.
Start With a Need
The best products fulfill a very specific need. You don’t want to develop a product simply because it’s cool, or you would like it. You want to identify a customer’s needs. The best needs are a problem that enough people have that they would want to buy your product solution for it. A need is critical when you are going to do product development. It makes no sense to go through the hassle of making something that will flop when it goes on the market.
When you have ideas, there are multiple ways to research to find out if the need is truly there or if your product would simply be a novelty. You can do market research. Look at data to determine how popular the type of product is. Is there another product like it? How did it do in sales? What did people like about it? What did they think could be improved? Getting the right feedback means you’ll be able to develop better products in the long run.
Develop a Plan
Creating a product requires setting important milestones. Create variations of your product. Draw it from different angles, then use software to bring it to 3D. The inventors and scientists at companies like Sarcos, Tesla, and even Apple all started with a sketch, a simple drawing of what they wanted to create. The final products were not what was originally put on paper, but after much planning, research, development, and ideation the final result is what we see on the market now.
You need to have goals in mind during the development process to ensure that you are staying on track. For example, if you’re making an app for a phone or tablet, then maybe your goal is to make people happy by giving them something fun, new, and exciting that they can use to help them or entertain them. Or maybe your goal is more practical—to make money by selling apps through an app store like Google Play or Apple’s App Store.
Either way, it’s important to know your goal so that later on in this process, everyone involved will know exactly what needs to happen next. Once you’ve decided what to do next, in terms of your objectives, you can continue working toward your research and development processes.
Create a Timeline
The best goals always have a time attached to them. Create a timeline for product creation and development. You can start with the end in mind. It’s critical to decide what you want your product to do, to ensure it’s possible. While a timeline is vital, it’s also important to remain flexible in the process because things come up that are unexpected and can extend your timeline.
Develop and Test Prototypes
Creating prototypes is important. Your first iteration of a product is not likely to be the final one. You need to first create, then test your creation before sending your final design to be mass-produced. Many software developers will beta test products with a select group of users to get feedback that helps them make necessary changes. You can send prototypes to people who fit your target audience to ensure that the product does what it promises. These potential customers can then let you know what was good about the product and what needs to be improved. Each round of prototype plus improvements should yield a product that helps you reach your goals.
Send to Production and Sell
The final step in product development is to start manufacturing units to go to market. Whether you are creating something that will line the shelves of Target or Walmart, or you’re creating an app to go on someone’s smart device, you need a way to sell it. You may leverage B2B salespeople if it’s a niche product, social media marketing, or even person-to-person selling. Once the final product is done, you now have the first item in your entrepreneurial endeavor. The best businesses are able to turn one product into an entire company and continue to meet the needs of their customers.