An Entrepreneur’s Guide to Product Development


Embarking on a product development journey is no easy task and something only the most determined and hard-working of entrepreneurs complete successfully. That being said, there are still some things every entrepreneur should know about product development to ensure everything goes smoothly in the process.

Keep in mind that there are five “parts” of the product development process. These distinct parts should be viewed as phases and not steps, as you may need to go back to a previous phase to adjust your course moving forward.

Phase 1: Research and Ideation

As the creator of your product, doing ample amounts of research will help set you up for success later on. Use this time to learn everything you can about your product market, competitors, and potential customers. You’ll want to be able to answer any questions from your design company, friends, and family about your product and you’ll also want to be prepared in case something unexpected occurs.

Phase 2: Concept Development and Control Art

This is where you get the first visual representation of your product. Both you and the design company will get a good idea of where the product is headed in terms of manufacturability. You may notice some things here that you want to change and may need to return to the research phase to solidify your goals.

When everyone has agreed on these goals, the design company will make control art for your product using CAD or vector files.

Phase 3: Prototyping and Validation

Using the control art from the previous phase, a tangible product is made. Although the prototyping phase offers a clearer picture than the control art in phase two, it is still a rough visual representation and may or may not reflect what the final product will look like.

Your prototype will likely not have any functioning or moving parts, so be realistic and trust that you and your designers are still on the same page. It isn’t uncommon to have to create more than one prototype until you find something that nails your vision.

As an entrepreneur and the creator of your product, you’ll want to pay attention to details here. If something concerns you, speak up, ask questions, and be persistent until you have something that you feel you can proudly present to consumers.

Phase 4: Testing and Refining

Product and usability testing will help you understand how consumers will react to your product. Like phase three, you may have to repeat this phase until you have all the consumer info you need.

No matter how much entrepreneurial experience you have, remember that you don’t know everything and having skilled professionals help you with specific tasks can be helpful. Let your product design company analyze user experience data for and with you so you can both agree on ways to improve your product.

Phase 5: Execution

When you’ve made final decisions about your decision, you’ll choose a manufacturer. As an entrepreneur, you may have some experience communicating with manufacturers. However, an experienced design company will have built relationships with reliable manufacturers that you can trust to carry out your vision. This may be the best option for you regardless of your level of experience.

No matter how many products you may have created in the past, every product design process requires complete dedication from everyone involved. Your entrepreneurial skills may help with market and consumer insight but let your design team do what they do best. You’ll save yourself time and effort and can still be happy with the final product.