How To Get A Product Made
Over the years when working at Vona Consulting, many starting entrepreneurs have asked me – how to get a product made? People often have good product ideas and business plans, but lack knowledge of how to move forward and turn their ideas into reality. The following suggestions are a good starting point to all new entrepreneurs and aim to give a better understanding of how a product idea can be brought to life.
Step 1: Making the Drawing
You may have many product ideas or designs in your head, but the first and most important thing to do is to put those ideas down on paper so that you can share your product idea or design understandably with other people.
If you are not proficient in using design software such as Adobe Illustrator or Photoshop, then the best way is to make a hand draft first, and then hire a designer to make a professional drawing for you. Good drawings will save you a lot of money in the future. If your drawing is unclear, it will be hard for manufacturers to make perfect prototypes and this means you may end up spending a lot of extra money on revising prototypes over and over. Always prepare professional and clear drawings before you start creating a prototype!
Don’t know where to find a designer?
You can either hire a local designer or find a freelancer online. Just type in “freelance designer” into Google and you’ll be surprised. You will also find that it will be much cheaper to hire a designer from India, China or Pakistan.
What to prepare when looking to get a price quote for your product
Apparel items: Digital drawing, measurements and material specifications. You need to provide a size chart, indicate the fabric/materials, color code and provide any logos/prints together with their size and position.
Plastic products: CAD drawings, material list, etc.
Metal products: 2D drawings with measurements, material specifications, etc.
A client from Texas came to us with hand drafted designs looking to get some apparel items produced. Because the drawings were unclear and the quantity very low, it was difficult to find a manufacturer willing to take this job. There is a gap between ideas and reality. When the client’s drafts were made into a prototype, they were not satisfied with the outcome. We revised drawings many times and explained the nuances of manufacturing and importance of clear drawings to the client. Once we had helped them make a professional drawing, we got a great prototype made in two weeks.
Step 2: Creating a Prototype
Once you have your drawing, you can either make a prototype yourself or you can find a manufacturer to make the prototype for you. A prototype is very important for production and Vona Consulting can help you do it at a low cost using our partner manufacturers.
After the first prototype is made, you will have to test the quality and functions of the product. You are likely to find problems, but don’t worry – it is perfectly normal to revise drawings and prototypes several times before they are perfect for production. A much worse case would be to produce from an imperfect prototype and then having to change it when already in production stage. That can be both very costly and time consuming. In order to save your money and time in the future, always make sure your prototype is right before production.
For a lot of products, you cannot produce the prototype yourself without professional equipment. In those cases you can either find a domestic or overseas manufacturer to create the prototype for you. Normally, you can save about 50% in cost when using a manufacturer in China.
Prototyping costs in China
Apparel: Usually around $50-$200 per piece
Plastic Products: Sometimes, prototypes can be made by 3D printing or rapid prototyping which means you may not need to pay expensive mold cost to make a prototype.
Metal Products: Tooling cost must be paid to make a prototype.
A client from Seattle was looking to make a prototype of a plastic cup design. They had contacted many domestic manufacturers in the state of Washington and found that the cost of a prototype would be around $4800. After we checked the drawing with our engineers in China, we advised the client to make the prototype in China by rapid prototyping. Going with this option only cost our client $650 and they very happy with the outcome.
Step 3: Find a Manufacturer
After you have your prototype, you need to find a manufacturer and make a decision about whether you wish to manufacture domestically or overseas. Based on my experience, manufacturing in China is the best option for start-up businesses. China, known as the ‘factory of the world’, can make your product at an extraordinarily low cost with relatively high quality.
However, it can be very difficult for starting entrepreneurs to find a good manufacturer from the immense number of factories in China. This is why it is a great idea to find a reliable China manufacturing company like Vona Consulting to help you with the process and solve any problems you may face.
Where to find a manufacturer
Finding a reliable manufacturer can be difficult and most companies listed on Alibaba.com are trading companies. An entrepreneur from Delaware was looking to produce T-shirts. They searched on Alibaba.com and found hundreds of companies. After contacting several of them, they got quotations ranging from $3-$14. Confused about the big price differences, they chose the cheapest option and after paying $150 for a sample, they waited for 3 months to receive it. Sadly, the sample was not good and the company they chose asked for another $150 to make a new sample. This client then contacted us and we helped them produce 300 pieces of good-quality T-shirts in 25 days. Do not trust anyone on Alibaba.com before they have proven that they can supply good-quality products at a reasonable price.
Step 4: Make a Sample
It is always better to make a sample before moving to mass production. Normally, it can take the manufacturer around 15-45 days to make a product sample. After you get the sample, check the quality carefully and if there are no major problems, then you can move forward to place the order. Normally, after the sample is approved, about 50% of production cost shall be paid in advance before production. After the initial payment is made, the factory will make a pre-production sample. You can then ask to have the pre-production sample revised until you are satisfied.
For small orders with a quantity of lower than 500 units, factories may often not finish samples on time. That is because you are not one of their “big clients” and therefore, unfortunately, are not at the top of their priority list. If you are producing a small quantity, frequent follow-ups at least twice a week are necessary to get updates and urge the factory to finish your samples as soon as possible.
Step 5: Confirm the Price and Sign the Contract
You may have got many different quotations when choosing a manufacturer in China and the prices probably vary significantly. Not all manufacturers in China are honest and trustworthy. They may give you a fake price list to get your order first, and once the sample is made, increase the price significantly. Always confirm the final price before mass production and make sure to sign a formal contract that indicates the agreed prices to protect you.
A formal contract is important. If you do not have one, you can contact me to get a template of a contract.
Step 6: Mass Production
After you have approved the pre-production sample, the factory will start the production. That usually takes around 20-60 days, depending on the quantity and product type. After production, you can hire a third-party inspection company to inspect the products. After the inspection, the full balance shall be paid before shipping.
Always pay 100% attention to the quality and delivery times.
These are the six basic steps to get a product made. It is a general reference guide for common products, the process and things to bear in mind vary slightly depending on your specific product and circumstances.
I have helped over 200 entrepreneurs manufacture or source different products in China. Among these are apparel items, plastics, hardware, wood, etc. Please feel free to leave a comment or email me if you have any questions about how to get your product manufactured.