Thinking of starting a business, but not sure what you need to know? Begin your journey here with my basic guide to business start-ups. In my role as Editor for The Business Show and Business Startup, I have talked with literally thousands of business owners and entrepreneurs about what they really need to know, not what a business guru thinks they need to know. This series is the result. Today’s blog looks at how to find a manufacturer and what to look for.
If you have an idea for a product, then you will need somebody to make it before you can sell it. You can find manufacturers online, through adverts in trade magazines, or through directories that you can find in the library to draw up your shortlist. Choosing a manufacturer will depend on many factors, but while price is important, it shouldn’t be key – you must be able to depend on your manufacturer, too.
Your manufacturer doesn’t need to be based in the UK, although that may make it easier to build a relationship in the early days. It certainly makes it easier to visit the premises of your shortlisted manufacturers to form your own opinion of the way they work. The world’s largest retailers use overseas manufacturers, usually in Asia, because they are cheap. There’s no reason your business can’t follow suit if the volume is high enough, but the decision to import your product adds a lot of considerations, including shipping, taxes or duties, translation, local law and any cultural differences. An import/export expert would take care of all this for you – for a fee.
Larger companies may offer more peace of mind that they won’t cease trading, but tend to be more expensive, where smaller companies might prioritise your work if you become a valued account. You might find life easier if you can find a manufacturing company that already produces similar products, because they may have already worked out many of the problems they might encounter.
Ask to see a sample to verify that they can work to the quality you expect. Ask them what quantities of your product they could produce in a given timescale to check that they can handle the volume of work you expect. What payment terms do they offer? Credit is unlikely in the beginning, but may be forthcoming if the relationship develops.
If you approach manufacturers to produce a prototype, get them to sign a confidentiality agreement to prevent them making your invention public. You should seek legal advice to draw up an effective non-disclosure agreement (NDA).
If you find the series – or any of the articles in it – useful, please share them via LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, or your own blog. I’d really appreciate it, thanks. If you need professional copywriting for anything from your first business plan to marketing collateral and press releases, I’d love to hear from you. Get in touch today to find out how I could help your business.