How to Find a Reliable Manufacturer or Supplier for Your Product Idea

If you have been thinking about how to start a business or becoming an entrepreneur, this is the best time to build and develop your product idea.  Most times, entrepreneurs find themselves in a difficult situation when it comes to sourcing products. It is not easy to find suppliers and manufacturers for your product. Due to this, we are going to provide some useful tips on how to find a reliable manufacturer or supplier for your product idea.

This include:

Have a good business idea

This may seem tricky, but it is essential if you want to invest your money and time wisely. The Director of America’s Small Business Development Centers and founder of “Target Funding”,  Kedma Ough, stated that “Everybody wants the best idea, but the main question is: are you ready to solve a problem.”

Even if you are ready to solve the problem, are you going to do it dynamically? What’s your objective? To provide more insight, Ough recommends performing a competitive analysis or getting in touch with people with similar goals.

Intensive research

If you want to build your business from scratch or prefer to make something on your own, you might not have enough information to get started. For instance, how will your product meet customers need? Is there any changes over time or it is a new product? Ough suggests “discussing with target audiences in your product niche”. Another useful research tool is to find your product’s trade exhibition (for instance a beauty expo for your handmade lotions. An entrepreneur in keen interest with Shopify and founder of online lifestyle brand known as Passionfruit, Liz Bertorelli stated that “performing a trade demonstration, signifies a high commitment to the industry, this enables you to meet many notable distributors and manufacturers at a social event to develop more product ideas”.     

Maintain your Intellectual understanding

Before you start networking and bringing more people/companies into your production channel, it is important to consider the non-disclosure agreement. This legal trade agreement can provide legal protection against other companies from incorporating your business ideas/concepts. “For innovative entrepreneurs, intellectual understanding is paramount in their organizations, and they can implement alternative options for preserving it, “says Simona Shakin, CEO of Seller Marketing at Etsy. Additionally, he recommends consulting with an IP lawyer. “In regards to trademarks, copyrights and patents, it is essential to consider the role of the intellectual ideas in your business.      

Reflect on Your Prototype

According to Shakin “Prototypes are cost-effective means to attract buyer’s interests. Just like any draft, your prototype may not contain all the required information. It is possible to miss out on receiving constructive feedback if you wait until your product is finalized.  

However, the prototypes required depends on the available resources and product requirements.

Begin to search for a Suitable Manufacturer

It is essential to work with a manufacturer that is ready to meet your product objectives. Firstly, you have to decide if you want to manufacture products that will be consumed at the local or international level.

According to Ough, “if you are more interested in offering cheap products, working with the international producers is the best option, but ensure that you consider other factors such as timing and customs before commencing on production process”. He stated further “if you want to work with international manufacturers, try to reach out to your local economic development chapter. “They can easily connect you with a well-known consultant that has worked with many foreign manufacturers”.

Business networking provides another opportunity to get in touch with manufacturers. According to Bertorelli, “getting referrals from business owners on social media and forums can be a good starting point and the best way to get positive feedback from suppliers.

Also, he recommends checking directories such as Alibaba, ThomasNet, Kompass, Oberlo, Maker’s Row and MFG to filter and find suitable manufacturers. “If you think that sourcing at the international level makes sense for your business, Shopify’s recommendation on sourcing from Alibaba is the best place to get started”. Lastly, ensure to identify your product’s local groups, such as the carpentry connection for a project on woodwork, for instance, Ough stated that this could be a valued resource: “Your local chapter will be linked to a national branch, and both can help you to locate manufacturers”.  

Choose Your Preference

After continuous research for manufacturers based on your preference, you can begin to narrow down your list by comparing production process, timelines and prices.

“Some main questions to include in outreach include: What is your sampling price? What is the minimum order quantity? What is your expected delivery time? Finally, what are the means of payment methods?” says Bertorelli. In addition, you will want to prepare a quality control checklist on your deem standard (for instance, minor discrepancies among the products) and unreasonable (delays in shipment). “Make sure that you discuss this with your manufacturer and agree on compensation plan free shipment if the delay is more than a certain period” Ough suggests.

When you are done with this step, proceed and contact your manufacturer on the phone. “Many people are frightening when talking on the phone, but stay positive! A good manufacturer will be interested in helping your business to succeed,” says Ough. Don’t hesitate to ask questions when necessary”.

Unveil the Production Process

Big congratulation, you have found the right manufacturer. Now, you can get started with production. Make sure that you include every necessary detail specifications of your product (such as colors, size and components) using a spec sheet that you will offer your manufacturer. When you have everything listed on paper with detailed information, you can easily prevent errors and confusion.

Are you overwhelmed with the process? Bertorelli stated that: “A start-up business process is a journey and not a race, while a journey begins with taking a bold step. Most of the new entrepreneurs experience difficulties at a different stage of filtering and thinking about innovative ideas or starting the business. The best thing is always to keep moving and never give up on your ideas!

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