Invention – Business

Business is problem solving. You’ve done this already, first to invent something and then to invent the manufacturing method for it. Once you manufacture it, you need to get it into customer hands. This is called business and it is just a problem that needs solving. You can automate this too, such as having custom software that runs your business, or you can do it by hand.

There is a pile of literature available on business. To be more specific, the literature describes existing businesses. If you need to, study this literature to learn how others have solved these problems. If you design a business from first principals then new things will come to mind. You can structure the business around software automation, reducing the need for manpower. You can even alter the product so it better fits the business. If you design a good product, good manufacturing method and a good business then the three will synergize.

Businesses purchase supplies, create a product or service then ship or sell it. Businesses divide this into clear departments. Tracking money is called accounting. Purchasing acquires the things your business needs. Manufacturing was discussed in a previous blog. Marketing and Sales helps customers find and purchase your product. Customer support deals with any issues that arise after a product is sold. Accounting, Purchasing, Manufacturing, Marketing, Sales and Customer Support are the major divisions of a business. Ensure you have these covered in your plan. If the company grows and you require more employees then you’ll also need Human Resources to manage them.

All good designs are elegant and this also applies to business. Elegant designs are simple and intrinsically simplify the solution. They are also robust and survive failure or disaster. Expect failures outside your business, such as supplier or shipping problems, and account for them. Have supplier redundancy, or backup suppliers. Expect equipment failure and have redundant inhouse manufacturing. Assume your computer system will fail at some point, so ensure it can be replaced with great ease. Balance just-in-time supplies with cost of warehousing and cost of disruptions.

If you hire workers then train them well and routinely check their work. Skilled people can really help your business. They can optimize the manufacturing method or shop around for better prices, lowering costs. They can also mess things up pretty badly if they lack skill. You’ll also need worker redundancy, for vacations and illness.

If your business sells devices, it needs packaging and possibly low quantity shipping. Packaging can be as important as the product, especially if it’s a consumer product. Even if you sell industrial machines, if they are delivered with professional packaging and appearance then they will impress everyone. One often ignored aspect is repair parts. This will become more important with blowback over anti right-to-repair practices. If you offer comprehensive and inexpensive parts then you will gain a lot of credibility from the technical customers. If you have parts then you can also offer kits. Kits appeal to technical customers so it’s an easy way to expand your market.

There’s nothing wrong with starting a business small. Some people try to start too big and fail. If you start small then it generally requires less initial investment. You can assemble everything and test it by hand. If sales for a particular product rise then you can hire someone to do that work or you can invent automation to assemble it. There is third party automation but it reflects a wide range of skill levels. Poorly done automation can ruin quality and increase costs. If you are good enough to invent a product then you are good enough to automate the manufacturing.

Starting small can be easy with readily available tools. If your product is pure electronics then it can be sold through electronic crowdfunding sites. These act as an initial crowdfunding to cover the initial costs and first product run. After the goal is successfully reached, they will stock your product and sell it. All parties win. There are also websites like Etsy that specialize in the sale of specialty goods or crafts. Etsy can be good for low quantity parts, but you need to research it first and understand all rules, conditions and costs. If you produce a larger volume then you can sell through Amazon. Amazon has various options. Again research the available options and choose something that fits.

Compared to inventing, business is not difficult. If you can invent a new device and a manufacturing method for it, then you easily have the capability to start a business. If it seems daunting then search for free online resources or register for college classes.

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