How to Find Your Manufacturing Partner
When you’ve designed and made the prototype of what you know will be the hot new gadget, the next step is taking that gadget to market. You’ve registered for a patent and now you’re thinking about starting a business, but how do you produce enough product to offer it on the market? Read on for three tips about selecting a manufacturing company and creating an effective partnership.
Protect Your IP
You’ve done the work of designing a prototype and protecting your intellectual property rights. Make sure your manufacturer will do the same. Ask for references and consider using multiple suppliers to make parts that will then be assembled at your business. Unfortunately, in many countries with large manufacturing bases IP is not honored, so besides doing your homework, make sure your contracts are strong and reviewed by your attorneys. Maintain the right to audit the facilities where your goods are made.
The same countries that provide most manufacturing can also have less than stellar labor practices. With today’s market transparency, you cannot claim to be an ethical company if your products are made in sweatshops. People will find out and call you to task, potentially destroying your business. It isn’t worth saving a few cents to support human rights abuses. If you have the opportunity you should do a factory walk-through before agreeing to anything.
Partner With Experience
Another reason to get references is to look for experience in the manufacturing industry. Look for manufacturers with good, established reputations. Ask them for a tour and take your questions with you. Look for a company that can guide you through its processes and answers all your questions. Are they already making similar products? Can they show you the process along with the final product? Discuss their capabilities in making changes to the product as you get feedback from your consumers.
Remember that as a small business your needs may not be the priority for a large manufacturing plant. Overcome this through building personal relationships. Let your manufacturer know that you are in a partnership. Find selling points for why your business is important to them beyond the contracted payments. Use more than one manufacturer so you can’t be boxed into a corner where you have to pay increased fees or face not having product on hand. Even if you’re a small fish you can turn the manufacturing industry pond into a safe home that will make your business thrive.