2. Use the best tools to discover prospective partners.
Now it’s time to develop a short list of manufacturers and suppliers that have done (or are doing) what you aim to do.
“Where do you find this list?”
I’m glad you asked. One of my most coveted resources that I personally use to locate manufacturers and suppliers is ThomasNet.com. Their supplier discovery and selection platform for OEM, MRO and other products and services is unmatched.
Start by searching out what you need. Then develop a short-list, give the vendors on your list a call, schedule site visits, slide each of them an NDA (non-disclosure agreement) across the table and begin to share your ideas with people capable of showing you how to bring them to life.
You may not know the precise product roadmap, so it would do you a great service to partner with those that do.
3. Select preliminary suppliers and manufacturers.
Once you’ve done your due diligence (and learned a few things along the way) take your new-found knowledge and make an informal comparison. Or you may want to take a more formal approach and send out Requests for Proposals (RFPs).
Ultimately, based on your information select the most promising partners (2-3 at most), gather your capital and move into sample (prototype) production.
But take caution before you become married to your initial plans. Whatever estimates you have made – double them. It will always take longer than you expect and may cost more than you budgeted for. Don’t let your lack of mastery and speculation in these two areas put a choke hold on your company.
Plan for the best and expect the possibility of undesirable outcomes.
4. Hire the best companies and continue to execute.
Once you’ve seen your suppliers and manufacturers in action, it’s time to hire the best. Did they complete the job to specifications? Were the quoted lead-times met or exceeded? Did one manufacturer save you money by incorporating a design improvement you hadn’t thought of yet?
Choose your partners based on their merits.
This is meant to serve as a high-level overview of the process and you may, or may not, choose to incorporate various details. Yet, this simple formula can help you make your dreams a reality and keep your idea from being tagged as “dead on arrival.”
What are some tips and tactics that have worked well for your company, when it comes to selecting suppliers and manufacturers? Let me know in the comments section below.
Photo Credit: J.Crew