Another grenade tossed out by Nick.
Happy birthday, Will Barnard
Another grenade tossed out by Nick.
Happy birthday, Will Barnard
Want to grow your short-sale business? A few tweaks to your Web site can help send more leads flowing your way.
Daily Real Estate News
Forbes releases its 13th annual Best Places for Business list, revealing which cities offer the most jobs and lowest costs of doing business. See which cities topped the list.
Daily Real Estate News
It used to be that one of the biggest obstacles in starting a business was getting product to sell. Manufacturing technology used to be very rigid. There were huge fixed set up costs that required huge quantities of stock for this cost to be spread over. This meant that budding entrepreneurs, those big on ideas, ambition and motivation, but lacking huge amounts of money and an established market to sell thousands and thousands of units to really struggled.
The convergence of flexible manufacturing process, supported by growing demand for small minimum order quantity (MOQ) manufactures (thanks largely to the massive growth in online and niche business) has meant today’s entrepreneur have many more options for getting product to sell.
In this two part post, I’ll outline a few options that I know of to get your products made. There are different options depending on the type of business model Â you’re looking to adopt.Â So, without further ado, here’s part one…
These manufacturers generally have a standard base product which can be printed with custom logos and other small design tweaks. In my experience, these manufacturers require a few hundred MOQ. Generally speaking, the more changes you make to the base product affects the price, timing and in some instances the MOQ.
There are literally hundreds of manufacturers that fall into this category – most of them located in the world’s factory throughout China and South East Asia. The best way to find these manufacturers is throughÂ alibaba.com. Alibaba is basically a cross between a directory of manufacturers through China et al and eBay. Each manufacturer posts pictures of their products, indicative prices and contact details. However, like eBay, there are also credibility ratings whereby manufacturers can earn different rankings based on how long they’ve been around, customer feedback etc. I found my WASP Bag manufacturer through Alibaba and it’s been a great experience. I hear occasional stories of people being ripped off etc however I believe this is pretty rare – and like anything online, just be aware. If it feels dodgy, it probably is.
Another cool resource if you wanted to create and sell your own books is blurb.com. On Blurb, you can custom print your own physical books.Â Whether it’s a novel, a picture book or something else, Blurb can print, bind and send in a number of formats, cover materials etc. They have pretty small MOQs and discounts for larger orders. A cool site and concept, worth checking out.
Basically drop shipping is when a manufacturer and/or distributor has stock on hand and then despatch it to your customers as orders come in. This is the method commonly referred to in Tim Ferris’s Four Hour Work Week book. If you don’t know what this book is, head over to Book Depository right now and get yourself a copy.
Drop shippers are very hard to find in Australia – I haven’t found one yet. Local manufacturers just aren’t set up for the small ones and twos order quantity of new startups, and the Australian market I do think is too small for drop shipping to be a viable business option as the drop shipper.
The resource that I recommend you check out to is Worldwide Brands. Worldwide Brands is like the Alibaba of drop shipping, except, you pay aÂ fee to access a directory. Their site does have a few good ebooks on drop shipping which I recommend you read. I haven’t signed up to their service – it seems like it could be good but I wasn’t keen on paying the few hundred dollars to find out if it would be or not. It isn’t clear if they have options for Australia and when searching for them on Google, the term ‘Worldwide Brands scam’ is suggested… Hmmm… Would love to know if anyone has tried these guys out and what the experience was like. UPDATE – when I first published this post, WordPress suspended my account for breaching their terms of service – apparently the Worldwide Brands link triggered their automatic scanner… Suggest joining Worldwide Brands is considered with care.
The other thing I don’t know about drop shipping is the ability to customise product. Understanding the model, I can’t see how you’d be able to customise much, if at all. This is a bit of a drawback for me as ideally you want to launch a product into an established market and promote it on a key point of difference. And if you can’t customise, how can you be different?
I’d love to know what resources have I missed here. I know there are new suppliers/websites etc popping up all the time, the above are just the one’s I’ve used or heard of. Don’t be shy, share your knowledge in the comments below.
So that’s it for part one. In part two, I will provide a few tips and resources for custom logo drop shipping (yes, I made this name up) and digital product creation. Part two will be out in the next week so keep an eye out for it.
With any business, large, medium, small and tiny (the category I fall into), protection of your intellectual property (IP) is important. The correct protection will give much easier recourse should somebody try to copy your product, service or brand name and logo. Protecting your business is very much a case of Â better to be safe than sorry.
In Australia, IP protection is administered and managed by the government body, IP Australia (luckily their website is a great resource). There are three main types of IP protection youâ€™d consider; trademark registration, design registration and patents.
A brief summary and my experiences of each follows.
Basically the registration and protection on your business identifier or identifiers. Most commonly this is your business name and/or logo. However, things like colour (the Cadbury purple for example), sound (Harley Davidson famously tried this) or smell can even be registered. Unless you have something really unique to your business identification, registering your name and logo is sufficient for a small business, especially at start up.
Trademarks are really easy to apply for through the IP Australia website. Cost is about $ 300 for each trademark per class. A class is a product/service category that you register your trademark for. For example, with WASP Bags, I have only registered the trademark for class 18 which includes all sorts of bags as the other classes are not relevant. To find your relevant class, search the List of Class Headings. You can do different colours of the same logo in the one application, but any variations on the logo constitute a separate application â€“ and $ 300.
The process is easy to DIY and itâ€™s relatively cheap â€“ so you really should register your business name and logo as a trademark. For me, itâ€™s a non-negotiable. Thereâ€™s heaps more info on the Trademarks section of the IP Australia website.
If youâ€™re creating a new product, registering the design ensures people canâ€™t copy it and claim it as their own. For example, the form of an iPod would be registered, meaning competitors canâ€™t create an mp3 player that looks the same, it has to be substantially different in form. Design registration only covers the form (shape and look) of your product, not its functionality (this is what a patent is for).
The really important thing here is if you want to register you design, you need to file your application before it â€˜goes publicâ€™. The registration process does not have to be completed before you take it public, but the application does have to be submitted. Itâ€™s important to make sure your application is submitted before any market testing you may do of your product for example. Funny story, when I was working on the ProperPlates concept (a previous business idea that didn’t get to market), I put the design on a webpage for feedback. This was before the design was finalised or registered. My product designer saw it first thing the next morning, called me and frantically advised to pull the images immediately!
If youâ€™re investing the time, effort and money into designing a product from scratch, the ~$ 1000 cost is well worthwhile (that cost included an IP lawyer when Iâ€™ve gone through this process, the IP Australia site has more costings on it). As for whether you should use an IP lawyer for design registration, I have before so canâ€™t comment on the ease of DIY. Using an IP lawyer is certainly easier and less time consuming, but of course costs. Whoever is helping you with the design will probably have an IP lawyer they can recommend, worth having a chat and weighing up your options. Again, more info on the IP Australia site.
A patent is what you need when you a creating something totally new and revolutionary. A patent primarily covers functionality (as opposed to form), however, with functionality often leading to form, will provide some design protection. But youâ€™re best to just register the design as well.
By all accounts, registering a patent is complex, time consuming and very expensive (your will really need an IP lawyer for this). But, if youâ€™ve got something totally unique and revolutionary a patent is the way to go. Again, the folks helping develop your product, and an IP lawyer, will be able to advise you. Thereâ€™s lots of detail on the IP Australia website.
Thatâ€™s about it. The above is all based on my experience and knowledge which is far from comprehensive â€“ the IP Australia website is really good, so check that out for more complete and accurate info. My parting advice is to always ensure you have at least some IP protection â€“ a trademark registration at a minimum. If you donâ€™t register your IP and someone does rip it off, I believe there are options you can take, but they would involve the use of a lawyer which means lots of dollars â€“ a pain in the ass no start up needs.