At one point or another someone has a genius idea for a new product, but the hurdle of finding someone to make the product is just too much. If you’re anything like me, you can’t even sew a button on a shirt let alone make a beautiful product to sell someone – so finding a manufacturer is key!
I have had many people ask me, “How did you find your manufacturer” and today I am addressing the steps for people who want to source their own product!
Here are 6 Steps to work through to find the right Manufacturer:
1. Where do you want your product made?
Do your research!! Google is your best friend, keep searching until you find what you’re looking for. Some countries won’t manufacture your product, so keep a running list of where you can get your product made. If your product cannot be manufactured locally then DO NOT fall for the trap of finding a middle man locally who will end up subcontracting the manufacturing to a country where it is made, like China. The middle-man will increase the price of the product to pay him/herself and it will take twice as long.
2. Use Alibaba & Google to research manufacturers
Alibaba has a great search tool that allows you to search for the item you are looking for and choose which countries you want to search. Make a list of manufacturers and make sure they are tenured (5+ years old) and have a high transaction level. Also ensure that they have had an onsite inspection.
If your potential manufacturer is not on Alibaba, then contact them directly via their website to get some more information about their company. Follow up if you don’t hear back from them. I had a ton of people who never responded to me and that is completely normal, just move on. Ensure that you google search whether or not they are a scam and read reviews like it’s going out of style. Your money depends on it!
3. Figure out your budget
This is important!! Make sure you run the financials and figure out what you can afford to pay per product in order to make money. Figure out what is realistic based off of your research of companies.
4. Get a NDA
A NDA is called a Non-Disclosure Agreement. This keeps the privacy of your product and protects you from a manufacturer loving your idea and creating it themselves. You will need to have a lawyer draft this for you… or if you’re a little risky you can find templates online. I wouldn’t recommend this, because in some countries your NDA will not be valid in a court of law if you don’t have it written in a second language- for reals. Lawyers know this stuff.
5. Use Upwork (or an equivalent) for security & control
Technically you can correspond directly with suppliers on alibaba. However, if you are getting your product made across the world, you probably want to have someone visit the factory, meet with the producers and ensure quality control (unless you want to go there yourself). Upwork is an online freelance platform where you can post a job and hire someone to do that for you. Post a job, analyze your options and interview your applicants (have each potential subcontractor sign the NDA & give quotes for traveling to the manufacturers). I interviewed applicants via a phone call to ensure they seemed competent and then we made the decision on the one we went with.
6. Give the list of your Alibaba manufacturers/Google companies to your contractor
You don’t have to do the back end work of finding a list of manufacturers (#2 above), you can request that your contractor find them instead. However, if you want to save some money and keep control, then this is the way to go. If not, then have your contractor do the research. Then, have your contractor visit the factories, have the potential manufacturers sign the NDA and report back on the best pricing & places.
7. Make a decision
Now that you have all of the information you need from your contractor then you can negotiate based on your budget and make a decision about which manufacturer you will use. You have officially found someone to make your product:)
Any other questions? Feel free to reach out to me!