5 things I wish I knew before starting a product company
So you have an idea. Now what? There are unlimited possibilities for how to bring it to life. Where do you start? There are online searches full of advice and experts. But even getting the right search is not as simple as you think. In writing this post, I could have listed 50 things I wish I knew. I narrowed it down to five, plus a bonus.
There is no one-stop shop to tell you what you need to know to get it done. That’s Ok (though maybe that’s a new business concept). Because every idea, every brand and every product is different, there is no playbook. What exists are pieces of a playbook. From idea to production to shipping, someone has created a business to help make it all easier. There are some great resources out there:
- Want to manufacture in the US – Maker’s Row lists every type of factory
- Need help selling your goods online – Shopify can handle it all
- Want to hire experts to bring your idea to life – Upwork connects you to freelancers
At every point along the journey there is a service or company set up to make it easier. But there are also some black boxes. To make it manageable, break out every single phase to get your product completed and take it one by one.
- Whatever you’re creating has an existing language associated with it. And you likely don’t know it. Everything has an industry around it. And that industry has a language associated with it. If you are new to it, you likely don’t know the words and phrases. There may be things that are close but not the same. Try to learn as much as you can about the terminology people use in the area you are trying to pursue. And if you don’t know it, look at the next point.
- Ask every question on your mind. You really don’t know what you don’t know. Others have the answers. Seek them out. But they won’t give them to you unless you ask questions. Even if something seems obvious or simple, ask questions. The only way you can be certain something is going to happen the way you think is to question it.
- Don’t assume that people understand your vision as clearly as you do. This could really just be don’t assume anything. You’ve imagined your idea in your mind over and over. To you it’s clear. Even when you share it with people, it makes perfect sense…to you. But spend time making sure those who are going to help you bring it to life fully understand where you are going.
- There are things you can do alone and things you have to get help with. Figuring out which is which is really hard. There are all sorts of books that give advice and tips. There are things that you alone have to do to build the vision for your brand. But you can’t do it all yourself. You need help. My rule is, if I have less than 50% proficiency in any given area, I get help. It saves time. And in the long run money.
* Bonus: Everything takes longer than you think it will. Especially if you are new to a particular industry. I can’t stress this enough. Build realistic timelines. You can only do this if you learn the language, ask questions, don’t make assumptions and get help.