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Terry and Tony in South Africa. Two South Africans working from home in East London in South Africa since early 2008.

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Developing a Product to Make and Sell

In the eternal battle for survival many people consider developing a product to make and sell.

From personal experience I believe that the quickest and easiest way to go about developing a product to make and sell and to get that product to the buying public is by accepting that resources are limited, and to work within your boundaries.

We all have different abilities and different skills, and need to draw on what we know, and need to realize that we may need to learn new skills along the way, as we go about developing a product to make and sell.

Let us create a scenario. Judy E is a single parent, and has lost her job. She has a small car, lives in a 2 bedroom flat, and even though she has some money in the bank, she has no savings to fall back on. Although she worked as a receptionist, Judy enjoys pottering around in the kitchen. After the initial shock of realizing she was unemployed, she submitted her CV to several agencies and potential employers, but it quickly became obvious that work for her was very scarce. Rather than give up, Judy sat down and made a plan that would help her create an income for her family.

Her initial thought was to start catering for functions and events. The problem there was the size of her kitchen – it was just not big enough. This prompted her to consider platters for events, and this went onto her list of future ventures.

She decided to make and sell prettily decorated cup-cakes. Finding outlets was not going to be simple, and Judy needed to keep her cash flowing. She did some research and found the contact number for a local weekly market. She called the organizer, and made arrangements that she would sell at the market only the following weekend, as she wanted to visit two markets the coming weekend to see what similar products were on offer, ahead of attending a market herself.

The rest of that week Judy spent looking at interesting ideas on the internet. Preparing for the market she would trade at, she loaned a table and chair from a friend, and a gazebo from another friend.

Using her home computer she designed, and printed business cards. From another friend she collected a large box of glass jars, and decided to make and sell a range of jams and marmalades as well. She spent some time at a green grocer to get an idea of what fruit was in season, and what the prices were.

By the end of the weekend Judy had decided on a range of cup-cakes, with their icing depicting popular children’s cartoon characters.

The week leading up to her first market was chaotic. Although she had planned her daily activities in advance, she had not bargained on her time being interrupted by friends visiting her. It was not a big decision for Judy to get her visitors involved in helping her.

By Thursday she had 30 bottles of jams, in 3 flavours. To each she had added ingredients that would set her jams apart from any others, making them unique. She used no preservatives, or additional colourants, and used only natural ingredients.

She had designed a basic label for her jams, listing all the ingredients she used, and wrote the name of the jam into a space on the label that had been left there for this purpose. With her jams labeled and packed into boxes Judy allowed herself some free time, which she spent in nearby shops, looking at products similar to hers and also noting the prices.

Thursday evening she made batches of coloured icing, and decided on how many of each character she would make. She then printed little pictures of these characters – that would match the icing on the cupcakes, and taped them to tooth-picks.

Friday was baking day, and she baked 60 cup-cakes. Late Friday night she finished her icing, stuck a character toothpick picture into each cupcake, and packed the cup cakes into a container.

Saturday morning she set up her table at the market stall. Her jams were packed out, and she had some cupcakes displayed under a see-through mesh material cover.

Pictures of the cartoon characters were stuck to the gazebo on the cupcake side, and pictures of fruit on the jam side.

Judy had also printed A5 sized line drawings of the cartoon characters, which she placed on the table next to the cupcakes.

In front of the jams she had a plate of small pieces of toast, and an open bottle of each jam.

Judy invited passers-by to sample her jams, which she spread onto a piece of toast for them.

When a cup cake was sold Judy gave the buyer a picture of the character they had purchased, to colour in when they got home.

Her first market was successful, inasmuch that she sold just over half her stock, and she had made contact with other market traders who told her of other markets that were happening in the area.

Her first few weeks were difficult, as she did not make much money, but she did gain invaluable experience and knowledge. She learned which markets were the best for her to attend, she learned how to better arrange her work-flow, and she learned about the best way to present her products.

Through her exposure at markets she started getting party orders for her cup-cakes, and got regular return clients for her jams at the markets she attended regularly.

Judy settled down to working for herself. It was often challenging, and she often earned less than she did when working for a boss, but even so, some months were very good, and in those good months she earned much more than she used to.

This case study is unique, inasmuch that Judy was able to make a success of being unemployed. Too many people throw in the towel, and give up, going into a downward spiral which destroys not only the person, but that person’s family as well.

By recognizing, and capitalizing on your strengths and abilities, sooner rather than later, you too can become successful developing a product to make and sell.

© Copyright Tony Flanigan 2014

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