When I created my first product to sell I wasted so much time. I didn’t know what I was doing, had no plan to follow, went down lots of rabbit holes and wasted lots of money. (Not to mention all the missed sales during the 8 months it took to get my product live.)
For subsequent products I had a process. I knew what steps to take, in which order. I even created myself a checklist to work through. So if you want to create a product – this will help!
That’s why I want to share how you can create a product to sell in just 10 weeks.
Best of all, once you know the steps involved you can repeat the process time and time again.
Week 1 – Get clear on your idea
The very first thing to do is define what your product is and who it’s for.
Really take some time to think about this. What is your product? What problem does it solve? Who might buy a product like this?
Jot down all your initial thoughts about your product – whether that’s how or what it’s made of, how it works, or how it’s packaged.
What’s your USP? This can (and should) change when you start to do some research, but it’s always good to get your initial ideas onto paper.
Also think about why you want to create and sell this particular product. (Maybe this is your USP.) This might also come in useful when you start to talk about your product in future.
Then think about your customer – who are they, what problems or concerns do they have, how would your problem help them?
Another useful thing to think about is where they shop (i.e. do they shop online or in person, via social media, or on other online marketplaces)? Knowing this will also help you decide where to sell your product. If you don’t know this already, this is something you can ask – so make a note to do that next week!
Week 2 – Validate your product idea
I’m going to pre-warn you – this is a big week!
There are two stages to this.
Knowing who your customer is key, which is why we spent time on that during week 1. It helps to ensure you create the product they want and need. It also makes it easier to be sure you’re speaking to the right people
Please don’t just ask your family and friends for their input. They may not be your ideal customer. They might say what they think you want to hear or go the opposite way and be overly cautious and put you off. I’m not saying don’t listen to their opinions – but I am saying, unless they’re your ideal customer, take it with a pinch of salt.
Maybe you already know some potential customers personally. If so, great. If not, go and find them in Facebook groups, or other online (or offline) groups and ask them some questions.
You can ask if they’ve ever bought a similar product. If so, ask what they thought of it. If not, ask what they’d consider buying, for what reason and what they’d expect to pay.
Possibly my favourite question to ask is “If you were buying an X, what would it need to do / be to exceed (or even meet!) your expectations?”
You can do all of this without giving too much away, if you’re not comfortable sharing your product plans just yet.
Carry out market and competitor research – i.e. look at other products
This is so easy to do online. I like looking on Amazon (even if you don’t intend to sell there), as you can learn so much.
If your products are handmade, Etsy would be a good place to look.
Search for similar products and look at their features, price and photos. Also take the time to read the reviews – they’ll tell you a lot! (If you’re short on time just read the 1 star and 5 star reviews.)
Make sure you keep notes of what customers say they like and dislike about each product. This will help you design and refine your own product.
Week 3 – Write your product specification
Use what you’ve found out during the last two weeks to make your product the best it can be and write it up into a detailed specification.
While doing this, give these questions some thought:
- How can my product meet my customer’s needs?
- How can I improve on the products already on the market?
Even if you’re making your products yourself a spec will still be helpful. You may still have to source ingredients or components (i.e. jars if you make candles) and it’s always good to have this to refer back to.
Of course, if you’re making something creative (art, jewellery, etc) then perhaps you work intuitively and you can likely skip this step. I’ll leave that to you to judge!
This is also a great time to make a decision on price. You can see my thoughts on this here.
Week 4 – Prepare your supplier communication
You did much of this work last week, when you finalised your product specification. This week is a good time to put it into a template email that you can send to potential suppliers.
Include everything a supplier would need to be able to quote for your product correctly. You don’t need to share designs, or give it all away at this stage.
I suggest outlining the key requirements for your product (everything that’s fixed and you won’t be swayed on) and asking your deal breaker questions.
These might include questions such as do they handle packaging products in-house, current lead-times (and whether there are times of year when these significantly change) and their minimum order quantities (MOQs).
Week 5 – Research credible suppliers and contact them
The first thing to think about is where you’d ideally like to source your product.
It really depends on what you’re looking to sell. You can’t get everything in the UK. Weigh up the options and perhaps look into multiple scenarios (if your product is made in multiple countries), so you can compare costs, quality, lead times, etc.
Remember this also applies to components, packaging and ingredients (using candle example, is one type of essential oil or wax better for your product)
My key piece of advice is to be thorough. You can also work with sourcing agents and using your networks is another good way to get recommended suppliers and manufacturers. There’s also nothing wrong with Google for finding and verifying potential suppliers.
Once you have a (long!) shortlist start contacting them (using the email template you already created) and see what you get back.
Other things you might like to think about this week are whether you need a patent or other protection, or a designer to help with branding.
Week 6 – Track responses
I’m going to assume that it took most of last week to do the research and it was towards
the end of the week when you started to send emails. So this week you should start to receive replies. (If you’re ahead of that – well done!)
I suggest immediately disregarding anyone who can’t meet your spec (which sounds obvious, but it can be easy to get swayed) and any suppliers where communication is an issue – whether that’s a language barrier, or simply not being great at responding. Remember, you’re looking for a long-term relationship here.
In short, it’s time to be ruthless!
You might even like to order product samples. I suggest ordering 2-3 samples, from suppliers that you feel happy placing an order with (assuming the sample is up to standard). Even if you’re looking for materials or components (or just packaging) this is important.
Compare samples with each other. If you have similar products at home, or ordered them while researching, compare them too.
If your product is something you can use / wear, etc, then do it! Wear it, wash it, play with it – whatever! See how it stands up to day-to-day use and find any issues before a customer does!
Week 7 – Shipping & Logistics
If you’re sourcing your product abroad you need to figure out how to get your products here.
There’s a whole podcast episode and a blog post on this, which is well worth a listen, as shipping can be a minefield and there’s a lot to get your head around. If you only listen to one, this might be it.
Do think about this before placing your order, especially if the method used will impact on your final product cost.
This would also be a great time to think about the logistics once your product is ready to sell – where will you store it and how will you ship to customers?
Week 8 – Revisit your finances
Check and double check that you’ve included everything in your costing and you’re comfortable with the profit margins. Also think about any future costs (for example, online marketplace account fees, website hosting, boxes for packing orders, etc).
This might not take a whole week – but in my experience it’s a task that can often take people a while to sit down and actually do!
It is, however, really important. Please don’t skip this step.
Week 9 – Place your order
It’s decision time!
Hopefully you’ve found a supplier you’re happy with, you’ve agreed all the terms and the numbers add up. It’s now time to order.
Ensure you’re clear on everything – i.e. price, lead- times, packaging, how the item will get from the supplier to you, etc, before confirming the order.
Week 10 – Create a marketing and launch plan
There’s lots to do while you wait for your product to arrive and these are just two of them.
Decide how and where you’re going to sell your product and start to get prepared. Open up accounts on online marketplaces, set up your social media and website (if you haven’t done so already) and plan out your next steps.
You’ll also need to think about writing your product description and arranging your product photography.
There are of course other things you’ll be wanting (and needing) to do. These are just the big ones. For the full list, download my free product creation weekly planner.
You may also feel that you can do thing quicker than I’ve laid them out (for example by taking multiple actions per week.) That’s fine. This is all intended as a guide and you can tackle it however suits you best. My intention was to make it as manageable as possible (especially if you’re short on time!), but you could work through the planner at your own pace.