by Travis Fleming | Feb 14, 2020
Freelancing is a great way to supplement your income and make some extra money on the side. However, many contractors take it one step further and decide to make freelancing their full-time career.
Most professionals have likely considered becoming a full-time freelancer at one point or another. But it can be a bit intimidating to strike out on your own and leave behind the security of a corporate job and a regular paycheque. That being said, there a number of skilled individuals who are freelancing full-time and doing extremely well.
So, just how do you become a full-time freelancer? Here are seven tips to help you transition from an office job to running your own freelance business.
Start by Freelancing Part-Time
If you haven’t started freelancing already, the first step is to begin doing it part-time. The great thing about freelance work is that you can do it whenever you like and as often as you like. You can pick up projects when you have time and make some extra money while you continue to work at your 9-5 job.
Not only will this help you get comfortable doing freelance work, but it will also allow you to build up your contacts, portfolio, and recommendations. That way, when you’re finally ready to go full-time you’ll have a solid foundation to build off of.
Secure Some Recurring Clients
The hardest part of becoming a full-time freelancer is getting regular work. Unlike when you work for an employer, you can’t always depend on a steady income. Some months you may have more work than you know what to do with, while other months might be relatively quiet.
One way to ensure you always get enough hours is to secure some recurring clients. These are clients who want to have an ongoing relationship with you and will continue to give you work each month.
These types of clients will be the foundation of your business, so search for opportunities that offer recurring work. But don’t be afraid to take on-off jobs either. Oftentimes, short-term contracts can turn into long-term working relationships if you do exceptional work.
If you can build up a few recurring clients you’ll be in a much better position when you decide to start freelancing full-time.
Save Some Money Before Making the Transition
As we just talked about, a freelancer’s income isn’t always steady. Your work hours will fluctuate throughout the year, with some months being slower than others.
One way to protect yourself against this is to have some savings set aside before becoming a full-time freelancer. This will give you some money to fall back on during those leaner months. It will also help support you during the early stages when you’re still building up your business.
It’s a good idea to have some money set aside for expenses before you decide to start freelancing full-time.
Photo by Alexander Mils from Pexels.
If you’re thinking of transitioning into freelancing full-time it’s a good idea to have three months’ worth of expenses saved up.
Consider Health Insurance
If you currently work for a larger company you probably have health insurance through your employer. However, once you quit your job to become a full-time freelancer you’ll be responsible for all of your own medical bills.
So, before you take the plunge into freelancing you’re going to want to think about health insurance. Luckily, there are a number of insurance options for those who are self-employed.
The first thing you should look into is whether you’re covered under your spouse or partner’s health insurance plan. Or you can see if you’re able to convert your current health insurance from a group plan to an individual plan. The Freelancers Union also offers health insurance options for freelancers.
Health insurance can be pricey, so if you’re not covered under your spouse or partner’s plan make sure to leave room in your monthly budget for it.
Quit Your Job When You’re Ready
If your goal is to become a full-time freelancer then at some point you’re going to have to take the leap and quit your job. Make sure to wait until you’ve built up your freelance business and have enough savings in place before taking this step.
There’s no shame in taking your time. Some people might make the transition in a few months while others may wait years. You may also decide to do it in stages, reducing your hours with your employer while you gradually build up your freelancer clientele. Do whatever feels right to you.
Make sure to leave your job on good terms so you don’t burn any bridges.
Photo by Christina Morillo from Pexels.
Finally, make sure to leave your job on good terms. If you’ve done good work for your employer they can be a reference for you in the future. It’s also not uncommon for a previous employer to offer you freelance work down the road, so be sure not to damage the relationship when you leave.
Set Money Aside for Taxes
Another thing you have to think about once you’re self-employed is taxes. When you work for an employer they automatically deduct a certain percentage off each paycheque and put it towards your taxes. However, once you work for yourself it’s up to you to make sure you have enough money set aside for taxes.
It’s a good idea to set aside a certain percentage of each payment you receive. How much you’ll have to pay will depend on your yearly earnings, so research your local tax laws to determine how much you’ll potentially owe.
To make sure you always file your taxes correctly it’s a good idea to hire a professional accountant. They can review your income, deductions, and other important information every year to ensure you always follow the proper procedures.
Raise Your Rates as Demand for Your Services Grows
As a full-time freelancer, you’re in charge of giving yourself a raise, so don’t short-change yourself. Keep raising your rates as your business grows to ensure you’re valuing your time correctly and maximizing your profits.
If you’ve been working for a client for a while and have consistently delivered high-quality work there’s nothing wrong with asking for a higher rate. This is especially true if you’re receiving better offers from other clients.
And if you get to the point where you’re receiving so much work you’re having to turn some of it down it’s a good sign it’s time to increase your rates. Some of those offers will likely go away, but the clients you’re left with will be the ones that value your time the most.
Start Your Freelance Journey on Work for Impact
Work for Impact is a new freelance platform that offers jobs solely from socially and environmentally responsible organizations, and nonprofits. We give freelancers access to a wide range of impactful clients from around the world, making it the perfect place to start your freelance journey.
Article originally published at Work for Impact blog.
By Leah Ryder on January 16, 2019
It happens to even the most experienced remote workers. Actually, it happens especially to those who have worked from home for a while. You land an amazing remote job, set up your home office with a customized desk setup, and get settled with ease. Over time, however, you become a little too settled. It’s been three days since you left your house and the fridge is empty—not that you’ve noticed, because you haven’t taken a proper lunch break in months. And when was the last time that you wore anything other than that same hoodie?
According to the Owl Labs 2019 State Of Remote Work report, US-based remote employees tend to work more than the standard 40 hours per week—that's 43% more than on-site workers. And while working at home can help people be more productive, there is also an increased threat of loneliness and impostor syndrome, which can lead to risks of depression and burnout.
Indeed, reaching peak “hermit” lifestyle as a remote worker goes beyond the pyjama jokes. These serious risks can be exacerbated simply because you’re not held accountable by physical means like the janitor turning out the lights.
I’ve been working remotely now for nearly five years. For me, part of adapting to this incredibly rewarding lifestyle was about learning to take more accountability for major life habits, like keeping active, having a balanced diet, and nurturing rewarding relationships with a distributed team. These are the pillars of a long and rewarding remote work career.
Beyond the fundamentals, however, a truly great day at the home office is about the little things.
After all, you have so much opportunity to craft a great environment, work according to your ideal schedule, and live a life without wasted commute time! Keeping your day interesting, without putting too much pressure on perfection, is what’s really important.
To stave off that “stuck” feeling when working remotely, here are a few quirky, small-yet-mighty, perhaps even weird, ways to inject a little fun, happiness, and socialization into your day.
7 Weird Ways To Stay Balanced When Working From Home
1. Plan your outfit for the day the night before. The “work” part of working from home is important. It may seem silly to plan an outfit to wear at home, but you’ll avoid the rut of wearing uninspiring hoodies and stretchy pants on repeat. Also set the coffee on a timer and set aside your lunch, or make a plan for nourishing snacks and meals.
Treating your work day like you would if you were going to an office ensures you're up, dressed, and well fed all day long. You’ll be ready for anything, including accepting a last-minute coffee date with a friend or dropping into a video chat with your boss. As Henry Ford wisely said: “Before everything else, getting ready is the secret to success.” Of course, what constitutes feeling “ready” is up to you, but you should always make your bed. It also means you can use your morning routine for other things!
2. Use your morning routine for demanding pleasures.The next step is to get your brain moving in the morning—and moving in the right (read: positive and productive) direction at that.
Author Ayn Rand has been famously quoted as defining a demanding pleasure as something enjoyable that “uses one’s mind.” She goes on to point out that it should be something that requires “discrimination, judgement, awareness” rather than something that requires problem-solving. Avoid early onset decision fatigue by keeping routine choices and chores to a minimum, and choose personally productive pastimes instead.
Whatever you choose, the activities should be interesting and rewarding so that you’re motivated to get up and do them every day, with a dash of new learnings or the use of creativity. Personally, I like to switch things up between reading and writing on personal projects, accompanied by a short morning meditation, a walk with my dog, and a rotating set of new smoothie recipes.
3. Set a rule for going out in public.This is not a joke. Especially when the weather takes a turn for the worst, it is surprisingly easy to hunker down and only venture out for the occasional supply run. Even if it’s an easy goal to hit for you, setting a rule that you’ll go out to a public place (that’s not the grocery store) at least "once every 24 hours" will help you remember to actually do it.
Here’s an easy win: The best thing you can do is use your non-commute time in the morning to go walk outside and get some fresh air. Regular, moderate, exercise is directly correlated to an increase in productivity, and according to Harvard Business Review, is a key factor in helping you achieve a better work-life balance.
4. Always be building playlists.Listening to new music is good for the brain, because it activates the center that makes us feel rewarded and excited. However, research has shown that most of us slow or stop discovering new music altogether by age 30!
In fact, data from US Spotify and Echo Nest users revealed that, by age 33, it is likely that a listener will never listen to new music again. Stop the slowdown and listen to Youtube or Spotify with one ear for new tracks. New music keeps you receptive to learning new things, and having a "side project" of mixing playlists gives you constructive energy in a low-key way all day. Plus you can share them with your friends!
5. Place things that need attention out of reach.Taking breaks is a key part of productivity, but it’s too easy to skip them when you’re alone. To avoid permanently bonding to your home office chair, try building regular “required” breaks into your environment:
Overall, if you’re bad at getting up from your desk regularly, build simple movements into your day in 20-30 minute intervals with things that break your concentration and say, “Hey, you should get up and do this thing for a few minutes.” Once you get there, give that thing a few minutes of concentration to make it a true mini-break.
6. Watch Netflix. Seriously.Four different studies have found results that that “parasocial” relationships in your favorite shows, or one-sided relationships that you watch on screen rather than participate in, can create real feelings of social surrogacy. What that means is: Watching an episode of The Office when you’re feeling a little down can help you feel less lonely and gives you an experience of feeling like you belong.
7. Keep going to the same coffee shop, dog park, or fitness class.You can do all of the above and still be missing one key ingredient to a more balanced remote work life: other people.
We fundamentally need other people to survive for our emotional wellbeing and even to live a longer, healthier life. It’s truly becoming harder to have meaningful interactions with other people: A report from Cigna found that only half of respondents had a meaningful in-person social interaction each day. On the bright side, science has figured out exactly how to make new friends, and it turns out that all it takes is time.
Research published in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships calculated that it takes an average of 50 hours with someone before they feel like a casual friend, another 40 hours to become real friends, and a total 200 hours before you’ll ask them to be in your wedding party. So start frequenting places or events that attract the same people on a routine basis, make an effort to chat with those folks, and you’ll have a new crew in no time!
Work Like No One’s Watching
If you do find yourself in a remote work rut, the best thing to do is have a little compassion for yourself and then try something new. Or, if you’re like me, just dance in your office—it’s not like anyone can see you!
Remote work can give you the freedom of flexibility, time, and a creative space you can call your own. Take advantage of it, and develop your own weird habits to create a daily experience that’s rewarding and, well, worth working for.
This article was updated as of March 2020
Article originally published at Trello Blog.
Even big companies struggle with innovation. Take, for example, Gerber’s 1970's attempt to penetrate the adult food market. Instead of developing a new line with its own unique distribution strategy, the baby food brand re-labeled existing pureed products and simply placed them in a different aisle. Or, more recently, look to the flop of Pizza Hut’s ill-fated “Flavors of Now” campaign, which failed spectacularly to drive sales.
Many entrepreneurs strike gold with their first line of products, only to run out of steam when it’s time to expand. Companies that continuously get product innovation right have a certain number of factors and resources in place to encourage free thinking. Sometimes, it just takes the right partner to bring an idea from a rough concept to full design. Here are some ways to improve product innovation in your business.
CREATE A CULTURE THAT CELEBRATES FAILURE
No one wants to fail, but fear of failure prevents employees from taking risks and pushing boundaries of product innovation. “A recent Gallup study found that only 18% of U.S. employees strongly agree they can take risks at work that could lead to important new products, services or solutions. When the remaining 82% of employees cannot take individual entrepreneurial action, it prevents companies from realizing the benefits of their innovation agenda,” write the Gallup experts.
It’s often said that there are no bad ideas, and that’s a great rule of thumb for sparking innovation. McKinsey advises to take this thinking a step further: “you should also encourage the truly impractical in some situations—for example, when conducting scenario-planning exercises to unearth potential competitive threats.” Pie-in-the-sky ideas can lead to actionable and innovative ideas that can be executed. Just look at how dozens of products we use each day came from NASA’s space exploration research and experimentation.
CREATE SPACE FOR PRODUCT INNOVATION BRAINSTORMING
It’s difficult to think creatively while working in the same routine day in and day out. Companies that don’t make time and space for product innovation will continue running a business as usual.
A hackathon is one way to encourage employees to set aside their day-to-day tasks in favor of product innovation. “Companies far outside the tech world are using these intense brainstorming and development sessions to stir up new ideas on everything from culture change to supply chain management,” writes Harvard Business Review. Involve members from all teams in your company, not just your product team or tech team. Some companies choose a particular topic to inspire innovation; others see what their employees choose to work on, and learn insights from their approach.
Other companies encourage product developers and scientists to pursue passion projects on company time. They invest in their employees by offering training, workshops, and professional development. Google, for instance, follows the 70/30/10 model:
70% of projects are dedicated to Google’s core business
20% of projects are related to Google’s core business
10% of projects are unrelated to Google’s core business
The 10% of projects that are unrelated to Google’s core business inevitably lead to some insight, invention, or innovation that impacts the brand’s bigger goals. And, their employees are happier and more engaged with their work in the process.
GET SOME OUTSIDE HELP
Sometimes, all it takes to spark a new idea is an outsider’s perspective. Find a partner like Gembah who can review your initial designs and take them from a quick sketch to a full mock-up and 3D model. They can also advise on factors such as manufacturing feasibility, budget, sustainability, and import/export.
Outside help can also come from your customers. Don’t be shy about asking your loyal customers for their input on what products to develop next. Turn to your social media channels to ask your followers what they want to see next. If you have a rewards program or loyalty program, invite your best customers to an exclusive event where you can get their feedback about your brand. If you’re not comfortable or willing to go to your customers, mine their data for behavioral insights or buying patterns that can indicate where the market is going next. Trend watchers like Mintel can help you innovate based on data from your target audience.
The Misfits Lair, a project by Zinnia Holdings LLC ©
Article copyright © protected, all rights reserved. Reuse of this article or any of its content by permission only.
With CES 2020 wrapping up a few weeks ago, there’s a lot to digest. We saw tons of innovative products in fitness tech, TVs, self-driving vehicles, and even basics like Bluetooth technology. CES is a spectacle that never fails to impress, and while some products might be more realistic than others, the showcase can be a source of inspiration for product developers and entrepreneurs.
Designing a great product doesn’t happen overnight. Many of the over 45,000 companies that introduced products at CES built on emerging trends from the past few years. But for entrepreneurs working on the next big idea, it could be something as simple as a napkin scrawl and the right partner to move your design a leap ahead. Read on for the most innovative products at CES 2020 – and take inspiration from their example.
FOLDABLE TABLETS AND LAPTOPS
CES 2019 featured foldable phones, like Huawei’s foldable Mate X – inspired by Intel’s “Horseshoe Bend” reference design. This year, the foldable trend expands to laptops and tablets. Analysts are buzzing about Lenovo’s ThinkPad X1 Fold, a foldable display that combines the best features of a laptop and tablet in one sleek design. Lenovo’s tablet features a 13.3-inch screen that folds in half and supports a stylus with Windows Ink and a magnetic keyboard that can be attached for use as a normal laptop. Dell also debuted two foldables, the Concept Ori and the Concept Duet. This next evolution in foldable screens promises to “offer laptop users more immersive movies, generously large spreadsheets and better tools for editing photos and videos,” according to CNET.
Fitness trackers have come a long way since the first Fitness entered the market in 2008. Withings’ ScanWatch was lauded as the best digital health product of CES 2020, largely due to the addition of the built-in SpO2 sensor. This feature can help you determine whether or not you need to be tested for sleep apnea, bridging the gap between fitness tech and medical health tracking. The ScanWatch looks like an analog watch, but it can track your heart rate for abnormal cardiac activity, has a battery life of 30 days, and includes a wide range of fitness activity tools.
Huami, a wearable company, and Studio, a fitness startup, have teamed up to reinvent the treadmill, debuting the Amazfit HomeStudio at CES 2020. The smart treadmill promises to compete with existing products from Peloton as well as new market entrants like Mirror. “The most notable feature of the Amazfit HomeStudio is its lack of a traditional treadmill front. Instead, you control the device using your smartphone, while content is delivered to a separate, vertically oriented 43-inch HD screen that the companies are calling the Glass,” describes TechCrunch.
The Amazfit HomeStudio combines expertise from both brands: the treadmill tracks metrics such as time, heart rate, distance, and calorie consumption, and even measures your form to offer tips to improve your running. The “Glass” screen in front of the track offers classes from Studio’s more than 1,000 online fitness classes, with a focus on treadmill running.
HYDRALOOP WATER RECYCLER
Green-tech found new prominence at this year’s CES, and one of the best products was Hydraloop’s Water Recycler. “The large appliance, which filters and purifies grey water from baths, showers, and washing machines, employs a series of six maintenance-free filtration techniques, and can recycle up to 85% of the water used in the home for re-use in toilets, pools, and irrigation systems (your toilet and kitchen sink are safe from filtration, so don’t fret),” writes a reviewer from Time Magazine.
Hydraloop recyclers are already in use in Africa and Europe; not only do they save the planet, but they can save money. By company estimates, a four-person household can save up to 20,000 gallons of water per year.
Water is just one scarce resource that tech is aiming to save in 2020. Sleep is another. The Motion Pillow is a consumer good that helps reduce snoring. “A box on your nightstand records audio as you sleep, then sends it to your phone for analysis. When the app detects snoring, the pillow inflates in various positions, gently juggling your head around until you quiet down,” describes Fast Company. A lack of sleep affects more than 45% of Americans, with serious health implications; it’s no wonder that the Motion Pillow was an honoree in this year’s CES Innovation Awards.
The Misfits Lair, a project by Zinnia Holdings LLC ©
Article copyright © protected, all rights reserved. Reuse of this article or any of its content by permission only.
Looking for a manufacturing partner? A quick search on Google or Alibaba will surface hundreds of results. It isn’t difficult to find a factory – but it is a much harder task to find the right one.
Entrepreneurs struggle to find and vet a manufacturing partner overseas. Many turn to sourcing agents to be their in-country representative. Sourcing agents can make the task of getting your product made easier but come with their own risks. How do you know if they’re connecting you with the best factory and negotiating the best price? Often they are secretly working on the factory’s behalf. Here’s what you need to know about the risks of working with a sourcing agent.
WHAT IS A SOURCING AGENT?
When working with a factory overseas, there are four common options for getting your product made:
THE RISKS OF WORKING WITH SOURCING AGENTS
Sourcing agents aren’t always as altruistic – or as helpful – as they might appear. On one hand, a sourcing agent can provide access to a network of vetted factories and save entrepreneurs a lot of time. They can help you navigate the process and serve as your in-country representative.
On the other hand, more than 90% of sourcing agents are reported to get hidden commissions from factories. “As a result, when things go wrong, they often tend to defend the factory,” writes one expert. “Some intermediaries are invaluable. Others are completely incompetent or, even worse, flat out crooks. Some do not even reveal that they are acting as an intermediary, leading you to believe you are dealing directly with the factory.”
Sourcing agents commonly take advantage of uninformed entrepreneurs by manipulating the pricing scheme in the factory’s favor. There are a few ways that a sourcing agent charges for their work. Some charge a large flat fee upfront; others charge “a percentage of your manufacturing transactions for some set period of time or a set number of transactions.”
In each of these instances, it’s easy for the sourcing agent to find a low-cost (and often low-quality) manufacturer and split the difference with the factory. For instance, a sourcing agent could charge an entrepreneur $1,000 upfront for a job that costs $500. The $500 difference gets split between the sourcing agent and the manufacturer – and the entrepreneur knows nothing. Other sourcing agents charge hidden commissions or work simply source the product from a different factory than the one they’ve advertised.
HOW TO VET A SOURCING AGENT
It is very hard for an entrepreneur to verify that a sourcing agent is being transparent about their role in the transaction. But, sourcing agents can also be invaluable partners. Vetting a sourcing agent requires asking the right questions and getting referrals from other entrepreneurs who have gone through this same process.
The Misfits Lair, a project by Zinnia Holdings LLC ©
Article copyright © protected, all rights reserved. Reuse of this article or any of its content by permission only.
It’s undeniably more affordable to outsource your product manufacturing to a factory in China or India. But, for most entrepreneurs, it’s difficult to discern which factory is the best fit. Instead of learning how to vet a manufacturing partner, many people rely on a sourcing agent to help navigate the process.
While it’s easy enough to find a manufacturer yourself or through a third party, sourcing agents and factories on Alibaba too often take advantage of entrepreneurs and new businesses that haven’t learned how to vet a manufacturing partner. Working with the wrong factory can lead to huge amounts of waste and costs: defective and poor-quality products, and missed production deadlines, are all too common when working with a factory that hasn’t properly been vetted. Here’s what entrepreneurs need to know about assessing a potential manufacturing partner.
ASK THE RIGHT QUESTIONS
viously, the biggest question you will have is the cost: how much the factory will charge to manufacture your product. But cost isn’t the only thing you need to consider. There are plenty of factories out there that will charge pennies – to deliver a product with terrible quality and is virtually worthless. In addition to asking for a price quote, Shopify recommends that you ask these questions to vet a manufacturing partner:
What is your minimum order quantity? Especially with a new product, make sure the minimum order quantity (MOQ) is a manageable amount of inventory. Dead-stock is costly; so make sure your MOQ matches your business plan and projections.
What is your sample pricing? The price of a sample ranges dramatically, depending on the supplier. It could be free, discounted, or the full retail price – so make sure to ask upfront.
What is your production pricing? Shopify’s experts recommend that you “ask for pricing for several quantities to get a sense of if and how they do discounted pricing for bulk orders.”
What is your turnaround time? Including the time it takes to ship, how fast can a factory get the product to your business?
What are your payment terms? It’s common for suppliers to ask for new businesses to make the full payment upfront, which is something you should certainly know ahead of time. See if there’s room to negotiate if your relationship goes beyond the first order.
Do you subcontract work to other factories, or is all the work done in-house? This question is a big one: make sure the factory you’re vetting is the one who will be creating your product.
If you’re outsourcing to an overseas company, they are likely to run your email through a translating app. Keep your email short and to the point to make sure that nothing gets lost in translation.
ASK TO SEE THE BUSINESS LICENSE
Reputable manufacturing companies in India, China, and elsewhere will have a business license, and if they can’t show proof of legal incorporation and that they are allowed to export, this is a red flag. Not only can a business license help you ensure quality control, but it also “provides valuable information about the company’s business scope and registered capital,” writes The Next Web.
A company's business scope tells you the purpose of founding the company. For instance, if a company was founded to focus on distribution, then the business is probably not as experienced or reliable in manufacturing. They could be a trader, meaning they outsource to other factories. Likewise, if the company has a small amount of registered capital – i.e., the investment with which the business was founded – that could also be a sign the company a trader. Look for manufacturers that have a large amount of registered capital.
A good manufacturing partner should send you a copy of their business license. If you want to verify the document, check the relevant government website. Alibaba and Global sources both provide automatic business license verification.
GET REFERENCES FROM OTHER COMPANIES
Perhaps the most critical step in vetting a company is checking reviews from other clients who’ve outsourced to their factory. Ask the manufacturing partner to provide references from other clients. Get in touch with those clients directly to make sure they had a good experience. Ask your manufacturing partner who else they’ve worked with, and to put you in touch with someone at the company who can verify the relationship.
This article is Originally Posted on Gembah
The Misfits Lair, a project by Zinnia Holdings LLC ©
Lean product development is an approach to developing products that focuses on reducing waste, speeding up delivery, and increasing profit. This approach to product development is used by dozens of successful companies, including John Deere, Nike, and Intel. Originally formulated by Toyota, lean product development is a great approach for new businesses seeking to capture the most customer value with the least amount of waste. Here’s what entrepreneurs need to know about lean product development.
BACKGROUND: THE HISTORY OF LEAN PRODUCT DEVELOPMENT
Lean product development, or lean manufacturing, originates from Toyota in the late 20th century. The Toyota Production System was born from a need to meet the varying tastes of car buyers. After World War II, the growing middle class desired cars of different shapes, sizes, and colors, a demand that Ford’s factory model wasn’t equipped to meet. Consumers wanted different models, thereby requiring different materials, production lines, and skilled labor.
Toyota’s approach to meet this demand depended on two central tenets: jidoka and just-in-time. Jidoka is a Japanese phrase that roughly translates to “automation with a human touch.” It refers to a method of quickly identifying and correcting issues that may cause faulty production. “Just-in-time” is a concept that focuses on refining and coordinating each step in the production process so that it only produces what is required for the next phase in the sequence, dramatically lowering waste.
The rest of the lean product development methodology flows from these two core values. Toyota designed a system that minimizes waste while maximizing value to the customer in terms of product quality, price, and good design. Other companies have since applied the values of lean product development to software, consumer goods, and other manufacturing processes.
PRINCIPLES OF LEAN PRODUCT DEVELOPMENT
Stemming from jidoka and just-in-time are seven key principles that encapsulate the approach to lean development. These principles dictate how an entrepreneur or new business can adhere to the lean development approach to deliver value and minimize inefficiencies. These principles are:
Eliminate waste: waste includes anything which does not provide value to the end-user. Lean product development experts define waste very broadly, from “unnecessary movement of workers on the shop floor” to inventory deadstock and overproduction.
Build quality: this is a disciplined approach to making sure products are well-crafted. It includes things like incremental development, automating tasks prone to human error, and constant feedback.
Create knowledge: provide a way to capture knowledge and document learning throughout the process.
Defer commitment: “To defer commitment means to not plan (in excessive detail) for months in advance, to not commit to ideas or projects without a full understanding of the business requirements,” explains one expert.
Deliver fast: deliver a simple product to customers quickly and iterate and enhance new versions thereafter.
Respect people: communicate effectively, resolve conflict proactively, respect others and work as a team for the benefit of the end-user.
Optimize the whole: every part of the operation must be optimized for one specific end goal – delivering value to the customer.
Lean product development principles have been rewritten and applied to the product design context, as well as to starting a company. The Lean Startup, a 2011 book about product development, outlines how to avoid building a product that no one wants or needs by learning from Toyota’s original lean product development principles. In today’s competitive economy, applying a lean product development approach can dramatically improve your company’s chance of success.
HOW TO USE LEAN PRODUCT DEVELOPMENT
Lean product development begins by considering what specific value your product or service can provide for customers. What problem are you solving by developing this product? Do market research and competitive analysis to make sure the demand for what you have to offer truly exists.
Next, incorporate the principle of holistic optimization. Get all stakeholders involved from the start. Identify a partner who can work with your business from product design to sourcing to production management and logistics. “Collaboration in the early stages of a project reduces the number of negative impacts and holdups that can happen down the line as progress continues. Getting manufacturing involved ahead of time allows for problems to be identified and resolved early, before they cause deliverability issues later,” describes one expert.
Then, look at ways to eliminate steps in the process that are wasteful or inefficient. The next phase of your lean process seeks to optimize production – often simply constructing a minimum viable product for consumer feedback and testing. An MVP is a version of a product with just enough features to allow customers to conceptualize what your final product will be and provide feedback accordingly. Respond to customer pull and iterate your initial vision based on what the market demands.
Finally, repeat the process until you’ve achieved perfection. Perfection, as defined by lean product development, is “measurable value with no waste.” It’s an extremely sustainable, profit-building method for product development. Inevitably, this approach benefits both consumers and brands.
Article originally published at: https://gembah.com/what-is-lean-product-development/
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When new businesses fail, most of the time it’s due to running out of cash. Poor cash flow management is the nemesis of the more than 80% of new ventures that go out of business in the first year.
It takes a lot of capital to get started, no matter what vertical or industry you’re trying to enter. One of the biggest costs of any new business is equipment: Fundera estimates that entrepreneurs should budget $10,000-$125,000 for their first year’s equipment costs alone. If you’re manufacturing a product, that range can skyrocket, which is why savvy entrepreneurs outsource their supply chain to manufacturing companies overseas. Here are some great reasons why outsourcing your product manufacturing can help your business survive its first year and grow profitably.
BETTER BUDGET MANAGEMENT
“Reducing costs is the number one reason why companies outsource. In fact, 59% of companies surveyed cited cost reduction as their motivation for putting this into practice,” writes Entrepreneur.
Outsourcing to a manufacturing company leads to cost-savings across the board – not just in equipment expenses. As one expert outlines, “savings can be realized in reducing labor costs, overhead maintenance costs, and distraction and redundancy costs.” Many regions around the world offer lower labor costs and use their facilities to serve more than one company. This means you benefit from lower maintenance and utility costs in addition to wages and salary expenses.
But, cost-savings are just part of the equation. Outsourcing also gives you the power to manage your budget and prevent overspending. Many manufacturing companies offer a pay-as-you-go model. This allows your business to grow at your own pace, test the market, hone in on your target audience, and check your business assumptions to make sure the demand is there. As a result, your startup can be proactive in managing supply to meet demand, lowering your deadstock and inventory management costs.
It’s unlikely that, as a startup, one of your first hires is someone with deep quality control and manufacturing expertise. Few new ventures have an in-house engineer or technician who can take a prototype from initial design to fruition. Even fewer new ventures have the resources to visit the factory, conduct quality control, and make sure all is moving according to plan.
The right manufacturing company will bring expertise to the table to help you develop your product the way you had envisioned. These partners have more experience than your average entrepreneur in product quality, cost savings, and supply chain management. Some partners will hold your hand through the whole production process, sending you photos along the way, managing the logistics and compliance of shipping your order, and performing quality control so you don’t have to. These partners can add value to your team and take on work by which your core employees would otherwise be distracted.
GO TO MARKET FASTER
“Outsourcing manufacturing to an overseas company equipped with the proper resources and personnel gives businesses of all sizes the opportunity to compete at the international level. This approach allows smaller companies the chance to partner up with multi-million dollar production powerhouses, removing limitations on their potential,” writes one blog.
When you have a good idea, it’s important to be first-to-market. Outsourcing to a manufacturing company cuts down on the time it takes to be the first one on the scene. Consider the process of manufacturing in-house: first, you have to find a space, then procure equipment, then materials and labor. By the time you’ve manufactured your first prototype, your competitive advantage has disappeared. Work with an existing factory that can take your plan and turn it into a product with speed and scalability.
ITERATE WITH FLEXIBILITY
Outsourcing your manufacturing allows you to move quickly and respond to demand as the market changes. “Prototyping and other production-related functions can be boosted to allow for innovation without draining internal resources,” writes one expert. “When a sudden uptick in demand occurs, outsourcing allows manufacturing operations to scale up rapidly.”
For more mature companies, outsourced manufacturing is a quick and easy way to expand outside your core offering. If you want a low-risk way to test a product, order a small batch based on your initial prototype to see how customers respond. The right partnership will give you a window to change elements of your design throughout the process. As you develop and grow your product offering, your fixed manufacturing costs aren’t going to fluctuate dramatically.
This article originally published on: https://gembah.com/why-smart-companies-outsource-product-manufacturing/
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Fast Company’s Innovation By Design award winners in 2019 all have a few things in common: they’re sleek, intuitive, and many have a sustainability focus. From a carbon-negative, algae-based plastic raincoat to a reusable takeaway-cup service for large venues, the winning designs all meld form and function to create a great user experience for the customer and the planet.
Designing a great product doesn’t happen overnight. There are many product development strategies an entrepreneur can take to reach a break-through design. The process could start with something as simple as a napkin scrawl and continue with finding the right partner to move your design a leap ahead. Here are the different approaches that many businesses take to designing a new product.
TRADITIONAL BUSINESS APPROACH
The traditional business approach considers two factors when designing a product. Will the product be viable, i.e., how does it benefit the business? And, what is the operational and technical feasibility of designing the product? Using the traditional business approach to design, a company would identify a problem, or a set of problems, and then derive what the company thought it could offer as a profitable solution.
The traditional business approach to product development strategy seems relatively straightforward, but it often doesn’t lead to success. It focuses on the “how” and “what,” rather than the “why” – why does a customer need a product? The metrics for greenlighting a product design, namely viability and feasibility, are company-centric and don’t consider the needs of the end-user. Hence, the rise of design-thinking.
DESIGN THINKING APPROACH
Design thinking incorporates the user experience into the design process, moving beyond the simple look and feel part of product design. Design thinking was popularized by IDEO founder Tim Brown, who describes it as “a human-centered approach to innovation that draws from the designer’s toolkit to integrate the needs of people, the possibilities of technology, and the requirements for business success.”
One of the aspects of design thinking that makes it so successful is the prototyping phase. Designers can help lower the risk of launching a new product by testing the product design with small groups of users throughout the development process. A prototype helps validate that the product is something a customer can understand, will use, and that the design is appealing before the product goes to mass production.
LEAN UX APPROACH
The Lean Start-up and Lean UX approaches take design thinking a step further, putting the prototyping process front and center. Lean Start-up is an approach to starting a business venture that takes an idea, translates it into a product or service, measures how customers respond, and then takes the learnings to pivot or iterate. Lean UX takes that same approach and applies it specifically to design.
Lean UX focuses on the human experience behind the design. The deliverables of the entire product development strategy are less important than the learnings the design process delivers. “The core objective is to focus on obtaining feedback as early as possible so that it can be used to make quick decisions,” explains one UX blog.
The goal of Lean UX is to get feedback quickly and use it to continuously improve. It’s an approach that is particularly collaborative – as if the customer is designing the product alongside the company. The drawback is that this approach to design can ignore other factors related to development; Lean UX can lead to somewhat of a product design bubble.
DESIGN SPRINT APPROACH
Design sprint is a subset of the design thinking approach. There are five phases to the design sprint process that take place on five separate days:
Which approach is right for you? It depends on the maturity of your company and the resources at your disposal. Speak to one of the experts at Gembah to learn how our experts can help with product development strategy.
This article originally appeared on: https://gembah.com/successful-product-development-strategy/
For copyrights and publication, please review each individual article for author's information and contact
Today I received an invitation from Tristan and the Work for Impact team to be part of the initial group of Freelancers to make up the group that gets early access to the platform and a look at the first round of jobs. I would love you to be part of it.
Besides being another great channel for Independent Consultants and Freelancers to grow their pipeline, the platform has a purpose, they partner with Non-profits for projects that really make the difference in the world.
So far Amnesty International, Sea Shepherd, World Bicycle Relief, Plastic Oceans, along with hundreds of others are on-board for launch. This is your chance to work for some of the biggest charities in the sector!
Work for Impact is a platform that seeks to connect skilled individuals with jobs solely from socially and environmentally responsible organizations, and nonprofits.
All the jobs posted on Work for Impact will provide opportunities to work with ethical businesses and help contribute to a number of amazing causes around the world!
Why would you use Work for Impact?
A new way of working to change the world
The way people are working is changing. Thanks to technology, geography is no longer a barrier that determines who you can and can’t work with. As a result, over a third of the world’s workforce is now freelancing, and this number is continually growing.
The opportunities for today’s workforce are endless, and more and more people are taking advantage of this new economy in order to pursue their interests and find projects they’re passionate about around the globe
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