Jason is a serial entrepreneur and the Founder and CEO of Klugonyx, an end-to-end product development services provider.
Product development brings with it many misconceptions about what the process is truly like and how to ensure you’re getting the most out of those you’ve hired to help.
Be it product design, engineering, prototyping or any other aid at your disposal, understanding the best approach to ensuring your product is getting its best chance at success should be the goal for everyone. There are things you as the inventor/founder can do to ensure this happens.
Here are five things you should consider when working with product development specialists to ensure your product’s success reaches its maximum potential.
Strengthen your relationships.
Establishing a good rapport with those responsible for how your product will look and function is critical, as a thorough understanding of one another can aid in the best collaboration sessions. This provides a sense of trust and confidence in each party, thus leading to a better outcome.
There are a few ways in which you can secure good rapport with the designers and engineers working on your product:
• Don’t get attached to one specific design or engineering idea. There are many routes to take when designing and engineering a product. While it’s good to have a general (or even specific) idea of what you want your product to look like and how you want it to operate, it’s also valuable to understand that there might be even better approaches to both. Allow for the exploration of these options when it comes to design and functionality.
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• Keep communication going at a steady pace as much as possible. Efficiency is important on the product development team’s side just as much as it is on yours. Waiting several weeks to give feedback on a prototype, for example, delays not only the production and timeline of your company goals but also places the conversations with the designers and engineers further back in their minds. When you do end up revisiting the project, those involved need to have a refresh of what was last discussed and reexamine notes, other feedback, sketches and so on. Keeping the momentum of your project going is essential for product prosperity.
Do market research.
Bringing a product to fruition is an exciting venture, so when your idea is brought to an audience and proves lackluster buy-in, it can be demotivating to move forward. According to CB Insights, 42% of startups fail because there wasn’t a market need for their products, which means product validation is critical to research before fulfilling your product development dreams.
For instance, are you trying to come up with a product that automatically waters plants? Go talk to plant experts. Get outside of your own head and talk to a myriad of people that could provide feedback on whether your idea would work. Understanding who your product is made for, why people should buy it, how it can help improve their lives, etc. are all pivotal pieces that will contribute to long-term success.
Know your brand.
The more information you can provide to showcase how you see your finished product and how you see your brand fitting into the product, the better. For example, you might create a guide or template with your brand’s color palettes, mission statements, buyer personas, typography and so on; any pros or cons about your product alongside a competitor’s; what packaging for the product would fit within the brand; images of products you’re inspired by, etc.
This can go a long way to ensuring your products are consistent with your company and brand. Also, review how your product will fit into your mission/purpose, and arrive with visuals to show your development team what that looks like so they know how to incorporate the look and feel of your product into your brand. The cohesiveness of this is important and can truly make or break your company in the long run.
Hire the right kind of expert.
When hiring a firm or freelancers to help bring your product to market, it’s critical to understand the expertise of all involved so you have the best possible outcome. I’ve seen clients insist on replacing in-house product designers with a graphic designer friend they know, an engineer they know, etc.
While a tight-knit client-designer relationship can be helpful and make the process easier, the emphasis of a particular designer or engineer’s career can be the difference between a profitable and unprofitable product. Specializations in product and industrial design are going to yield a different product than ones in graphic or user experience design, so know the risk factors in hiring a specialist with expertise in the kind of product you want to profit from.
Know your product road map.
Understanding your product’s road map and how you see your market interacting with and purchasing your product is an essential step prior to hiring a development team. Is your goal to launch online-only, a physical store or both? Are you going to sell on Amazon? Are you planning to launch a crowdfunding campaign? All of these considerations are important, as they’ll help guide the process for the team you’ve hired.
For example, do you need a prototype created that’s just for looks and photography for your crowdfunding campaign? Or do you need one that’s functional because you’re going to show it to an investor and it needs to be ready for use? These factors are an important part of outlining the development timeline, so it’s critical to have this information down before you take action.
Creating a product can be an invigorating experience and will lead you down an entrepreneurial path you’ll remember (and gain many lessons from) for the rest of your career. Despite the process not always being linear, it’s a rewarding passage to success, and many clients can’t stop the idea flow once they’ve seen their concept brought to life. Thus, consider the list above, and you’ll be primed for a more successful outcome.