Pro Tips

Tips for Entrepreneurs in Product Design and Development


Becoming a successful entrepreneur in product design and development requires an understanding that a successful product depends on knowing where that product will be used. Knowing the environment, your product has to be adapted to fit those conditions to be a success.

The product designers and engineers must work together. Engineers tend to focus on product reliability, quality, dimensional details and manufacturing processes while product designers tend to be more interested in the aspects of product development including customer profile, product design features, human factors and the user interface.

Here we provide tips that are applicable to entrepreneurs looking to innovate in new areas or industries. These tips cannot guarantee success, but they can steer you in the right direction.

Keep it simple

The best product designs are typically those that form a simple connection between function and design. A good product design will need to look good, be easy to use and non-threatening to customers. At the design stage consider ‘simplicity’ in the design concepts, user interface and human factors in the final product.

Review and research

When designing a new product review and research all the competitor products on the market to see which design features work and check those that have failed. One of the tips from successful entrepreneurs is not to change things that are familiar and mainstream for customers who are likely to reject major design changes.

Prototype and test

One of the obvious tips is to prototype and test the design prior to releasing the design to the engineering team for detailed engineering. Prototype the design through modelling, computer simulations or functional prototypes. Test the prototype with people unfamiliar but interested in the product either via focus groups, informal studies, and on-line surveys. Implement feedback into the product design to improve the design as much as possible.

Implement checks and balances to reduce your risk

Some big design firms handle every step of product development with in-house engineers. Entrepreneurs rely on freelancers. This means you’re relying on one person for product development. One of our tips that can save you a lot of money is to get a second opinion on your product's design, as this reduces your risk during the development process. Almost every time, other engineers will find issues. Regardless of the skill of an engineer, when complexity increases, so does the risk of errors. Use a review process to lower risk.

Implementing a design review process opens the possibility of hiring offshore developers. By hiring an independent engineer to review their work, the level of risk is reduced.

Stay involved

A successful product development process must include you. Push beyond your comfort zone, stay involved and learn. This is a valuable opportunity to develop new skills, and challenge your fears. This is one of the tips that leads you to better business knowledge, higher profits and a significantly increased chance of success.

Overlook nothing

Look at distribution, training, repairs and replacement parts and incorporate this into the design process. When equipment breaks down, if there is not a maintenance contract associated with it the product has to be robust and low cost, being cheap enough that when it breaks, exchanging it for a new one is easier than sending it to a repair technician.

Packaging tells your story

Packaging is a product in its own right that introduces, protects, and displays, significantly driving consumer decisions. Packaging is also manufactured, with parts, moulds, and scale hurdles. Build this into your time-line and do not leave it to the last minute.

Good entrepreneurs use their lack of resources to their advantage

When designing a product, you cannot always get everything you want. It cannot always be cheap, easy to use, and unfailingly accurate. A balance has to be decided between accessibility, price and efficiency. Increased regulation around products will require caution balanced with openness to alternative solutions so that your products do not get rejected and therefore need more time before approval.

Work-life balance

It’s unavoidable to work long hours as an entrepreneur, but long-term workaholism will lead to burnout. Make time away from the office, taking care of yourself, particularly in the early years.

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