There comes a point when you are in the middle of your small business and think to yourself, “how can I recreate this, but on a massive scale”?
It’s a considerable challenge that we all have to face when our business is doing so well. But it can be incredibly intimidating.
You might be comfortable enough running a small, modest sized business from your home, but when it comes to copying your product and marketing it on a massive scale, you might not have the essential components.
This is why it’s important that your small business is ready to go large, even from the very beginning.
Manufacturing is one of those vital areas that need to be prepared for, but how can you do this?
Know The Type Of Manufacturing Methods
First things first, you need to know the various types of manufacturing methods that are available. While there are common traits that every manufacturing business is involved in, from the sales, exporting, as well as shipping and procurement, there are a small number of manufacturing methods that can be employed.
Flexible manufacturing is reliant on robotics, rather than personal. As the equipment is controlled by computers, this can be a considerable cost at the outset, especially if the process of manufacturing is incredibly complex, such as drilling micro holes in various materials, or micromachining in any form, because of the sheer amount of detail that needs to come out of each product.
Intermittent manufacturing is beneficial if your business provides products that are of one type, but have variations, such as different sizes. By manufacturing batches of these products, according to demand, this is good as far as the cost is concerned, but its intermittent nature means that you could be paying more for the process.
This is why it’s beneficial for you to set up a base of operations that take into account everything, from the prototypes to the administration, as well as the manufacturing.
Another type of manufacturing is continuous manufacturing; this is the old-fashioned assembly line that produces one finished product, rather than a variation of types. This is a very feasible model if you are creating complex products that don’t require modification.
The typical factory setup, with an assembly line is very popular, but you need to dissect this in terms of its feasibility relating to your small business.
Finally, customer manufacturing is one method that many small businesses use, and this is arguably the most prudent. Because it can help your business to tailor the products according to the customer’s needs, this guarantees a more personal relationship with customers or clients- this type of manufacturing cannot be done by machine.
Sourcing A Manufacturer
Finding a manufacturer can be difficult. The best way to find specific manufacturers is to get referrals. The great thing about having referrals for specific factory operations is that they are already tried and tested. The best way to inquire is to contact local manufacturers and find out about their specific connections.
It’s always best to stay within your industry, because if you are manufacturing clothing, but your contacts do something completely different, there is going to be a big problem as far as communication is concerned.
It’s important that businesses work together, and this is none truer when finding the ideal factory for your operation.
If you don’t have any luck with local manufacturers, you can always search online for businesses that have products of a similar vein to yours. There is no harm in calling them and finding out what companies they use, or how they began to manufacture.
You might think that they will be reticent to give you this information, but in actual fact, experience has shown that these companies are more than helpful. Because you’re not in direct competition with them, this is no skin off their teeth.
Considering The Cost
When considering the overall cost, you need to debate whether the cheapest factory will give you what you want, but you also need to give thought to the import costs.
If you go about it the wrong way, it’s likely you will face excessive fines, not to mention your products being held in customs, which will set you back even further.
When dealing with the factory, you can either go via the route of a broker or an agent or go to the factory directly. The temptation would be to go straight to the factory, but if you are dealing with an overseas factory where communication can be a considerable problem, a representative might be the best option.
Once you’ve got this sorted, the non-disclosure agreement has to be signed and in your possession. After this, you send your product sample to the factory and get a quote. At this point, it’s vital for you to check like for like, and that the quotes you’ve been given aren’t misrepresented, especially when it comes to dimensions and sizes of the products.
On top of this, you need to think about the insurance, shipping costs, customs fees, and so on. When being given a quote by a factory, it can be tempting to go for it or risk losing the factory. In actual fact, sit on it for a couple of days and go back to ask for better pricing.
It’s important that you and your staff get paid, so there’s no point in beating around the bush and accepting the first offer, especially if it leaves you out of pocket.
Also, it’s important to remember that most quotes are usually okay for around 30 days, meeting you have some time to play with it.
Starting The Production Process
And once everything is put in place, it’s time to start the production process. At this point, it’s vital to ensure that your working relationship with the manufacturer is excellent on every level, not just a financial one.
Of course, there are a lot of relationships in business that you need to keep sweet, but if they aren’t pulling their weight, this can mean for a fractious relationship. It’s important to have clear and consistent communication and have a manufacturer that supports you.
Likewise, you need to support them. This is why communication is vital. You are going to have a lot of errors, especially the very outset, but is it their fault, or is it yours?
This is why you need to go through rigorous checks relating to the quality of the item. Prototyping the process is the aspect that needs to be perfect, especially before the product goes out officially. And when dealing with a factory overseas, it’s going to take a lot longer to fix the issues, especially with you not being there in person.
This could take a matter of months, but it will be a lot quicker than the time. It would take to cancel production, fix the product, and start again.
In addition to this, you need to consider how your business is going to change, especially with your product being sold en masse. The marketing processes could change, or you may feel that it’s better to stick to your guns, as this is what has given you the success you’ve had so far.
It’s a very difficult balance to maintain, because now, as the product is in such high demand, navigating to the next level can be draining in so many ways. The upscaling of any business requires a lot of changes, not just the internal processes, but hiring new staff members, outsourcing certain processes, as well as dealing with new clients, including the manufacturers.
As a result, it’s important for you to know if your business is able to sustain this pressure. And this is why it’s vital, before your business makes the transition to manufacture your products on such a large scale, that you are still sticking to what was on your business plan at the very outset.
Getting your business ready for this stage can be easier if you had the vision in place early on in the life of your business.
The temptation could be for you to run a business like it’s a very small one. But, this mindset doesn’t lend itself well to when you are end up doing well. In addition to this, this doesn’t do you any favors. The goal is global domination, and so, while upscaling your business, the preparation for each aspect to be ready for upscaling is beneficial.
This is why it’s important for you to think about manufacturing, even if you are running your business out of your garage. There will come a time, when you aren’t mailing out the products yourself, and will have to go to a factory to cope with the demands, and this can be incredibly intimidating.
But with the basic knowledge at your disposal, you can best prepare yourself for that fateful day when your product is so popular that you cannot do it by yourself anymore.
So, you need to make sure that your small business is ready to manufacture.