For businesses whose goal is to produce and sell products, the product development process steps you take can make or break your success as a business. Whether you’re planning to develop a single product or many, it’s essential that you get it right.
With the fate of your company resting on this process, wouldn’t it be great if you had a road map to follow along the way? Good news – we’re here to give you one!
Read on to learn the various product development phases and how to get the most out of each one, increasing your chances of success by doing so.
Brainstorm Product Ideas
As with all elements of business, the first of the product development steps is to brainstorm. It’s best to have as much of your idea fleshed out as possible before you begin the crafting process.
Take out a sheet of paper (or your notes app) and writing down your ideas and descriptions of each. Write down ideas of your own, ask employees for ideas, and survey customers to get a better idea of what they might be looking for.
For each one, you need to ask yourself a few questions before moving forward.
- Is there a demand for the product?
- Is it possible to produce the product?
- How will you transport and deliver the product?
- How much competition is there?
- Do you have the funds to finance the product?
The idea (or ideas) that seems the most promising after answering these questions should be the one you proceed with.
Research Your Idea
There are over 30 million small businesses in the United States alone, meaning new products are hitting the market every day. Launching a never-before-seen product is next to impossible.
What you can do, however, is research your competition and find areas where improvements could be made. You may not be able to have the only product, but you can have the best one.
Draft a Business Plan
The business plan for your product is going to look different from your overarching plan but is just as important. In this stage, you need to flesh out what the remaining product development phases will look like for your specific situation.
In addition, you have to address the economic variables of your product launch, including both development and marketing. Identify your break-even point. In other words, at what point your idea will become profitable.
Create a Prototype
At this point, you should have a strong hypothesis and be fairly certain that your idea is a great one. To confirm your theory, you need to create a prototype.
This is the first draft of your product which you’ll show to investors, as well as customers and key partners, to receive feedback before you begin production on the final product.
If you have to outsource the work, be sure to provide extremely detailed specifications for your product so that the results are exactly what you had in mind.
Tweaks and small improvements are likely but do your best to make the prototype as attractive and marketable as possible. Those whom you entrust with the task of testing it will have a better idea of what the final product will look and feel like.
As any product development manager will tell you, crowdfunding is an excellent choice for companies in the midst of product development. Why? Well, not only is crowdfunding an effective way to receive funding for your product, but it’s also an opportunity to launch your product with a built-in customer base.
The users participating in your crowdfunding campaign will also be a fantastic source of ideas for improvement. You’ll be able to gauge their reaction to the prototype and take the necessary steps to polish the product to perfection before final production.
Design and Produce Your Final Product
With your prototype in hand, along with all the feedback and ideas you gained from the crowdfunding and testing processes, you’re ready to design and produce your final product.
Whether you’re designing and producing the product yourself or enlisting external help, remember to make your specification as detailed as you can. This will limit the number of surprises and hiccups you encounter along the way.
Plan for the unexpected. When it comes to product production, even the most well-laid plans can go awry without notice. Make sure your launch date is chosen with this in mind. It’s better to bump your launch up in the end than delay it.
Market Your Product
The final step in the product development process is also one of the most difficult, and that is marketing. It’s not the marketing itself that’s confusing but ensuring that you’re going about it the right way.
Whether you’re tackling Etsy marketing, amazon marketing, or promoting products on your own e-commerce website, having flawless market and pricing strategies is crucial.
The first step is to define which channels will be most effective with your specific target audience. From there, you can build your conversion funnel and decide on sales tactics.
That said, don’t allow your plans to become too rigid. The world moves at a breakneck pace, and you have to be able to shift your attention and budgets to match.
Follow the Product Development Process Steps to Success
As you can see, there are many product development process steps, each of which is just as important as the last. By treating them as such, and putting as much care and enthusiasm as possible into the development of your products, you can create something truly special.
Now, keep in mind that product development is only one aspect of a successful business plan. But don’t worry, if you’re interested in learning more about crafting the perfect business plan, we’ve got you covered. Take a look at our blog to learn everything you want to know about building and running a business!