If you’re planning to develop new products and services, you should test them with your customers with just as much care and attention as a new business going to market for the first time.
By making sure theres real demand for what you’re planning to sell, you can find out about any problems and fix them before you’ve wasted too much time, effort and money.
1. Talk to existing and potential customers and find out about their needs.
2. If you can, develop a prototype as quickly and cheaply as possible. Work out the minimum investment that lets you find out if you’re meeting a real need.
3. Test it with customers and get feedback. Find out what they’d be willing to pay for it. Try out different prices with different customers in a consistent, realistic way to see what people will really pay. Can you make enough money for a return on the investment you’d need to develop your new product or service?
4. If there are are other businesses competing for your market, think about what will make you different. Can you provide something better than what’s already available? And is it significantly different or better to what you’re already offering?
By developing new products and services, you can:
• sell more to existing customers (making the most of existing relationships is cheaper than finding new customers)
• spread fixed costs like premises or machinery across a range of products
• diversify the products you offer so you’re less reliant on certain customers or markets
Another way of expanding your product range is by importing goods from overseas to sell in the UK. Make sure you know the rules on things like tax and commodity codes if you’re planning to import.
If you’ve invented something or come up with an original idea that you want to turn into a product or service, you should register it to make sure nobody copies it without your permission. Find out about trademarks, copyright and intellectual property.
You can find local support in England for coming up with business ideas and developing them on the National Enterprise Network website.
Other sources of advice and support include:
• the Design Council’s business resources
• the British Library business and intellectual property centre
You may be able to benefit from developing your idea in partnership with experts in academic institutions through Knowledge Transfer Partnerships.