The Entrepreneur Forum | Financial Freedom | Starting a Business | Motivation | Money | Success

Idea Generation To Execution: Fastlane Millionaire's Step By Step Guide

Learn how to build wealth and win financial freedom the Fastlane way!

Say "NO" to mediocre living rife with jobs, ascetic frugality, and suffocating savings rituals— learn how to build a Fastlane business that pays both freedom and lifestyle affluence. Join more than 70,000 entrepreneurs who are making it happen.
Join for FREE Today
Get the books
Remove ads? Join Fastlane INSIDERS
(Registration removes this block)

NeoDialectic

Successfully Exited the Rat Race
FASTLANE INSIDER
Read Rat-Race Escape!
Read Fastlane!
Read Unscripted!
Speedway Pass
Feb 11, 2022
93
466
Phoenix, az
First off, thank you so much for sharing! This thread is a goldmine and even has my girlfriend excited by the possibilities. We've spent all morning brainstorming ideas using the process you've laid out and have come up with some great ideas to chase down further.

With that said, the paranoid part of me wonders how you manage/avoid potential liabilities.

For example, when looking at heating pads, there are people reporting that they were burned by the product. This was seen in popular products and niche pads (even 5-star reviews, variable heat settings, etc.), so I'm thinking that it's fairly unavoidable and comes with the territory.

With a product like this, would you carry some sort of insurance? Or is a disclaimer good enough? Or is this even a problem and am I just overthinking? :rofl:

Up to this point, I only have experience with digital products, so any advice in this area would be greatly appreciated!
It makes me happy hearing that I was able to motivate you and your GF into the right direction!

Great question too.

The answer depends on the individual and their risk tolerance. A few points.

  1. All things should be done through a LLC or Corporation that you created. This creates a liability shield. So if something happens, only your company (which has near zero) can be sued. You can't squeeze juice out of a rock.
  2. Google "piercing the corporate veil". It will pull up things that an owner does that allows the person suing their business, to say that the owner didn't actually treat this as a business but as an extension of their personal things and because of that he shouldn't be afforded the protection the business provides. These are simple and obvious things that can be avoided but that many people don't. For example, don't treat your business bank account as a personal bank account where you can buy personal goodies with. Treat it like a separate entity and so will the law. Easy
  3. Don't do anything illegal like fraud and avoid gross negligence as that also shifts responsibility from the business to the officers making those decisions. Using your example.... Someone burning themselves on a hot item that is meant to be hot, would likely be a business liability. On the other hand, you knowingly choosing a part that is 2 pennies cheaper but knowingly has a 50% chance of exploding... Is negligence. So set your disclaimers as all other companies selling heat pads do and don't do anything crazy.
That's the gist of the matter. But as I mentioned, there could be some nuance. Are you a wealthy individual, or even relatively well off because of your career? In that case, you could consider general business liability insurance. Maybe you could even consider product liability insurance. But since you are well off, those are no big deal and are very low costs for peace of mind from the very unlikely happening. Are you a college student with $1,000 bucks to your name? As I mentioned earlier, you can't squeeze juice from a rock. They can try to sue you, but the second their lawyer contact you and finds out that you and the business have nothing to their name, they will vanish.

Now that we moved past the scary part of the conversation, talking about liability and lawsuits... Here is the realistic part. Except for some insanely rare bad luck (close to 0%).. You are not going to be sued for basically anything a company like Amazon will allow you to post, until you are already successful and sold countless of these widgets. If someone burns themselves, they return that crap and move on. If they feel really feisty, they leave a bad review to vent and move on. What are they gonna sue you for? What lawyer is going to take the case? It would have to be some REAL freak accident for a lawsuit to be worthy.

TL;DR : Do the very basic steps to protect yourself. Don't sell anything wildly dangerous. Don't commit fraud or do anything wildly illegal. Get insurance or consult an attorney if you have ALOT to lose. Then go on with your business of trying to sell your great products without anxiety or wasting headspace worrying about liability/lawsuits.
 
Don't like ads? Remove them while supporting the forum: Subscribe to Fastlane Insiders.
Last edited:

ArmanK

Contributor
Read Fastlane!
Read Unscripted!
Apr 30, 2022
40
41
I think "a more effective treatment for cold sores" obviously sounds like a lucrative good idea. What your post seems to be missing is "and I've been using X ingredient/product on mine and it helps clear it up in days! Looking online, no one seems to selling this ingredient to help with cold sores".

Don't take this the wrong way, but otherwise, your post sounds like "Do you think curing cancer is a good idea? Is it worth me digging deeper?".
thanks for replying here and to my pm. just wanted to share what i already mentioned to you in case others are following along or have additional insigh to share (im all ears)!

after doing some more research i think that it could be useful to specifically target new moms who are getting cold sores. because babies can face severe issues if they are exposed to cold sores. even leading to death in some cases.

and with new moms being in constant contact, kissing, hugging, touching their babies i would feel like they would be desperate to find a solution marketed to them.

also found out that 67% of the world has hsv-1 which causes cold sores. so there seems to be a huge TAM.

but as @NeoDialectic pointed out in his pm to me - OTC (over the counter) health products like this can face heavy regulations.

i have interest in this because it has affected me personally for so many years but i dont want to get married to a single idea.

curious what other readers think? any other obvious roadblocks i may be missing?
 

Ayobami23

New Contributor
Read Fastlane!
Sep 16, 2021
46
16
The Testing Framework:

You have finally arrived at the most crucial step. Remember, no matter how genius you think your idea is, you are not the market. Entrepreneurship is like gambling. If you are like me, you don't like gambling when the odds are not your favor. So you want to do your best to change your odds from the odds of the player, to the odds of the house. That means having a long term mindset and leaving enough for next time. You may lose this time, but if you learn and keep trying then the odds are in your favor of winning over the long term. That is why I don't recommend blowing all your resources on your first idea. Of course it is possible that you can bet it all on 00 on the roulette table and win. But it is not likely.

So with that in mind, you have to give the idea your spiritual all but not have it ruin you. You can't keep trying when you used all your mana on the first try. This can mean different things to different people. The larger the investment you make, the faster and more accurately you finish this part. Only you can decide what is right for you. @fastlane_dad and I have always bootstrapped as much as we can through the beginning stages. We replaced investment capital demands with creativity. Hopefully I can show you how to do that as well.

This part of the process will rely heavily on you answering the 1st question from the Preliminary Research Example correctly and concisely. You want to try and figure out how you can solve the issue or provide the value to the customer with as little monetary investment as you can. Here are some ways to do this:
  • Making something at home
  • Repurposing an existing product
  • Finding private label alternatives
  • Negotiating small samples
  • A combination of all these things
This is probably the one step that is the most diverse and difficult to make concise steps for. Most people would be surprised by the type of things you could test. However each type of issue/product may require it's own type of test. Once you have practiced this exercise enough, it will become easier and easier to see the way.

One of the biggest roadblocks people have in their thinking is believing that their product needs to be perfect. That is far from the truth. During your testing phase, the first thing you put out can be rudimentary in most areas as long as it is effective in the specific value you are proposing to solve. Once you get a good market signal from testing, then you can scale up investment on par with the signal and you can pour your heart and soul into the final product. You will find that along the way during the testing phase, you may actually have to adapt your mission statement and end up somewhere completely different!

Another roadblock is thinking that their solution isn't worth the money your customer will give you. If you naturally think this, it may be hard to shake this feeling. But you should be able to solve any guilt associated with this concern easily. This is how we do it...We legitimately want all our customers happy. So we provide a very liberal return policy. If the customer is not satisfied, they get an instant refund and a thank you for giving us a shot. It's no skin off their back. We want everyone to walk away happy. As long as you are solving the customers issue, most people will be happy. Those that aren't, get their money back.

Keep in mind that once you start getting sales, these methods should be phased out and turned into something high quality. The point of this exercise isn't how to make the fastest money by producing the crappiest product. The point is to figure out if you should spend your valuable time and resources on making the best product to solve the problem. Making the best product you can usually means something high quality, well thought through, and just overall something you can be proud of. A better product will get more more happy customers, reorders, more referrals, less refunds, and a leg up on competitors when they finally come.

The Testing Example:

During our research in the previous parts, it became clear that a solution already exists that just isn't marketed this way. Mineral sunscreens do not have the offending chemicals and are widespread. This gives us a wide array of choices.

Side note: Remember when I said a roadblock is thinking your solution isn't worth the money? This is a place where many people would feel that way. They think just because you are selling the customer an existing product, that you are somehow pulling one over on the customer. That is a very incorrect way of looking at things. Knowledge isn't free. My mother wouldn't sit there researching what ingredients won't discolor her hair. She has better things to do with her time. She would just go on Amazon and type color safe sunscreen, or something of the sort. Currently, no one is giving her an option that she could immediately be comfortable buying without doing more digging. You will. There's nothing misleading or bad about that. That is a huge value add. Every time we buy something based on a brand, we do this too. We use the brand as a heuristic to mean "this is a well enough known brand that even though it may not be the absolute best, I think it will be good enough to solve my issue and I am willing to spend a little more for the brand name to ensure that without doing my own research". Most of us do this and are more than willing to pay for this shortcut!​

Different types of product have their own set of testing solutions. Here are a diverse set of examples for this type of product.

The quickest most unethical way
You can create a mock product with 3d renderings. You will either prevent the order from being placed (on your own website) or cancel orders that are placed. Not only may this not be ethical, but there are also other issues. If you are preventing an order being placed by doing something like giving an error during checkout, then you don't actually know if the customer would have went through with it. Carts are abandoned all the time. If you are cancelling orders, this could get you into hot water very fast in most the marketplaces and you may find your account at risk and you stuck at go before you even began. So we do not recommend this route if at all possible.

The quick hands on way
It looks like the fastest ways to have a product in hand to test for this example is by making sunscreen at home.
Side note: Think no one wants your homemade sunscreen? O ye, of little faith. Why don't you type in "sunscreen" into Etsy.com search and see how many sales are happening. Even when the customer knows that it is literally hand made in a random mom's kitchen, they are still more than happy to buy it.​
The tradeoff with this is that you have to do more research into regulations and you have to be willing to get your hands literally messy. This is a completely acceptable solution. We have done the equivalent of this and there is nothing unethical about this as long as you do this legitimately and follow any regulations. Don't let regulations scare you away. You can google "regulations to produce sunscreen" and there will be a ton of info on it, including directly from the FDA. A quick shortcut for regulations on labelling is just to copy existing products labels and change the design elements while keeping the same structure and wording.

The best part about this way is that with enough motivation you could literally have a product in your hands by the end of the day. More realistically you could have something within a week or so. Do the research on how to make one online, buy the ingredients, the bottles, get a local place to print labels and you are on your way! Use google at every step of the way.

  • "How do I make a mineral sunscreen"
  • "Where do I buy X ingredient"
  • "Where do I buy a X color pump bottle"
  • "Where do I buy a X color pump"
  • "Where can I print a label"
You can either do the designs yourself or hire someone on some place like fiverr.com to do it.

Remember....you aren't optimizing for cutting cost or absolute highest quality here. You just want something "good enough to get the job done" and while still reasonably priced in low quantities.

We wouldn't currently do this as we have money to invest, but this is a decent choice.

The quick hands off way
This is the way we would likely do things right now. I would google for "private label mineral sunscreen" and start calling places. Here are two places that I chose for this example. Keep in mind that I chose them strictly as an example because of how easy it was to find the price. I have never used them and have no idea how good the product is:


Code:
https://www.wildwestskincare.com/collections/sunscreen-with-zinc-titanium-dioxide
https://proceuticalspl.com/


The first one doesn't look as visually appealing but I can get singles for $37 or 10 at $20 a piece. The second one looks more professional in my opinion and the minimum order number is $24 at a cost of $25.50 a unit. Many private label companies will give you label templates and even make sure you are following regulation on the label. This may ease some peoples anxiety with doing it yourself.

So for $37 + shipping you can have a real product in your hand and be in the market very quickly! Or you may choose to invest a couple hundred to get a more professional looking starting batch. Again, this depends on your circumstances and goals. Don't forget that you can usually negotiate with these companies. There are dozens that provide these services and with a well thought through phone call you may be able to get a very good product, at a very low quantity and at a good price.

The traditional route
I won't spend to much time on this since this is the most intuitive route. But I would be remiss if I didn't mention the traditional route. You find a contract manufacturer that makes your types of product. You start a relationship with them and discuss your requirements for the product. They will be glad to provide you stock formulas for the type of product you want to make and then you have to do more research on how you would want to customize it. For example, you would ask them to provide you with a sample of a stock mineral sunscreen. If you like their sample, you would ask them to add X, Y, Z ingredient to it to provide even more value to your customer. Or maybe there is an expensive ingredient that most don't use but you can because you will price your product accordingly. The guy you talk to can be a wealth of knowledge as this is what they do all day and they too want you to succeed. So don't be afraid to ask. Doing this could demand a $3,000 - $10,000 investment. Depending on alot of factors.

At this point in our career, there is a good chance that we would do things this way. A few thousand dollar investment isn't much for us and we could go straight to providing as much value as possible with a custom end product. If the test succeeds, we would still try to improve the product from this step based on feedback or more research we have done. But If we fail, we would have alot more personal investment where that came from so we could easily shrug it off. That's why I said your level of investment and commitment is a very personal thing.

Conclusions:

So these are the ways you can get up and running very quickly to test the market for your product. If you have touched on a strong market need, you will know immediately. But don't be discouraged if results are first lackluster. You should try different marketing and different angles of attack. Many successful products will start off with only selling very slowly. This is still a huge win! Many people will be turned away because of the inherent flaws in your test mule. But you only gambled small financial investment and now you are more confident in investing the required time and financial resources to make that AWESOME product that will drive a productocracy. This is where you become an expert in all things sunscreen and colored/blonde hair. You can spend days/weeks/etc properly researching people's experiences online/offline and even scientific papers written on these topics and ingredients. Then you go through the iterative steps of creating a good presentable products. But again, you are doing all this knowing that when you have the final product in hand you, people are going to be snatching it out of your hands! Too many aspiring entrepreneurs spend all day at the creation phase and either come up with a spectacular product that no one wants or give up because they lose motivation through the slow creation phase. There's nothing like sales coming in on your test mules to continue motivation you during this phase.

A strong immediate response is usually the best thing you could hope for, but don't write off slow responses or product you have to tweak. They can still become big hits or even if they don't, a milquetoast response product can still make you more than the US median salary. That's the power of being the producer.

We have ordered our "final" product as soon as within 1 week of starting the test phase or as late as months after. It all depended on the market response, whether we had to keep tweaking/testing and how much time we had to dedicate to this product at the time.

Epilogue:

Alright guys. Hopefully all this has helped you guys peek behind the curtain a little bit and got you going in the right direction. As I have been writing this series, I see there is probably a lot more that needs to be addressed. For example I do have alot of failed examples during the Idea phase that would show good lessons. There are also countless examples I could make of how to test different types of products. When you see enough of them, you can start picking up on the similarities and it becomes easier formulating your own successful tests. I think there are probably steps that I glossed over that deserve their own focus as well, like the marketing/ad copy/listings/etc. Let me know which areas still leave you scratching your head. So I may continue the series in the future. But for now, I'm exhausted of writing! :rofl:
Your posts are roadmaps to treasure
 

xShepherdx

Contributor
FASTLANE INSIDER
Read Rat-Race Escape!
Read Fastlane!
Read Unscripted!
Speedway Pass
Apr 11, 2022
22
63
It makes me happy hearing that I was able to motivate you and your GF into the right direction!

Great question too.

The answer depends on the individual and their risk tolerance. A few points.

  1. All things should be done through a LLC or Corporation that you created. This creates a liability shield. So if something happens, only your company (which has near zero) can be sued. You can't squeeze juice out of a rock.
  2. Google "piercing the corporate veil". It will pull up things that an owner does that allows the person suing their business, to say that the owner didn't actually treat this as a business but as an extension of their personal things and because of that he shouldn't be afforded the protection the business provides. These are simple and obvious things that can be avoided but that many people don't. For example, don't treat your business bank account as a personal bank account where you can buy personal goodies with. Treat it like a separate entity and so will the law. Easy
  3. Don't do anything illegal like fraud and avoid gross negligence as that also shifts responsibility from the business to the officers making those decisions. Using your example.... Someone burning themselves on a hot item that is meant to be hot, would likely be a business liability. On the other hand, you knowingly choosing a part that is 2 pennies cheaper but knowingly has a 50% chance of exploding... Is negligence. So set your disclaimers as all other companies selling heat pads do and don't do anything crazy.
That's the gist of the matter. But as I mentioned, there could be some nuance. Are you a wealthy individual, or even relatively well off because of your career? In that case, you could consider general business liability insurance. Maybe you could even consider product liability insurance. But since you are well off, those are no big deal and are very low costs for peace of mind from the very unlikely happening. Are you a college student with $1,000 bucks to your name? As I mentioned earlier, you can't squeeze juice from a rock. They can try to sue you, but the second their lawyer contact you and finds out that you and the business have nothing to their name, they will vanish.

Now that we moved past the scary part of the conversation, talking about liability and lawsuits... Here is the realistic part. Except for some insanely rare bad luck (close to 0%).. You are not going to be sued for basically anything a company like Amazon will allow you to post, until you are already successful and sold countless of these widgets. If someone burns themselves, they return that crap and move on. If they feel really feisty, they leave a bad review to vent and move on. What are they gonna sue you for? What lawyer is going to take the case? It would have to be some REAL freak accident for a lawsuit to be worthy.

TL;DR : Do the very basic steps to protect yourself. Don't sell anything wildly dangerous. Don't commit fraud or do anything wildly illegal. Get insurance or consult an attorney if you have ALOT to lose. Then go on with your business of trying to sell your great products without anxiety or wasting headspace worrying about liability/lawsuits.

As a "rock", it sounds like I have nothing big to worry about as long as I'm doing things the correct way LOL.

The LLC is a great idea and we will set one up once we commit to testing - it's cheap and easy enough where I live so this should have been a no-brainer.

We're excited to begin testing ideas and your response has opened the doors for us to do this properly.

Thank you so much for the detailed response, this helped a ton!
 
Don't like ads? Remove them while supporting the forum: Subscribe to Fastlane Insiders.

ArmanK

Contributor
Read Fastlane!
Read Unscripted!
Apr 30, 2022
40
41
After posting my general advice post here , I realized that one of the most burning questions that people struggle with is "how do I come up with an idea that isn't already done?" and "how do I test whether I can successfully sell this product without a huge investment?".

This is the first time I am writing down this process on paper, but this process in general is one of the ways my business partner and I have successfully launched multiple big products that have been in the hands of hundreds of thousands of happy customers.

Hopefully this thread will show you how to do that with a real step by step example of how to do this. I will also try to include my reasoning for decisions along the way. So this will be a long thread with multiple parts. Even though I have already went through the example all the way through posting; Writing detailed accounts take a long time. So today I am tackling the idea generation part. Depending on the response over the next week or so, I will add a post detailing how to bootstrap your way through successfully testing the product. I can also add a post detailing a few unsuccessful iterations, to showcase what failed attempts look like.

Disclaimers:
  • This is FAR from the only way to do this. By providing the following steps, I am not saying that this is the best way to start a business. But these are difficult questions to answer in an actionable and generalizable fashion, so I have chosen a niche and path that I could do just that. I believe others methods have been posted before on these forums. For example like searching for everyday items on Amazon and seeing what all the 1 star reviews have in common and solve that issue.
  • The best way to think of an idea is to be familiar with a product or field and try to solve an issue that you or someone you know runs into. In this exercise I am attempting to answer not just how to test a product, but also how to come up with an idea when your mind is running completely blank. The point is to show that the only thing holding you back is your willingness to put in work/time and not your experience/age/finances/etc. If you have an advantage in either of those (know a problem to solve or you have sufficient finances to fund faster experimentation) then I would recommend using that.
  • You are taking a peek at my exact process that I would take to think of and test a product under these circumstances. That means I have not actually made and tested this product but I actually do believe this would be a good product to test. My bar here would be to test X amount of products and only 1 has to catch on to be a success.
  • My example will be testing on Amazon as it is the most lucrative marketplace and simultaneously probably the hardest to do so as your are playing by their stringent rules. However you can apply the same methods for any other marketplace and/or search engine and you would just be dealing with less traffic but likely have more control.
  • If you want to copy any part of this, you can. But please know that I only went surface level for the purpose of this exercise. I don't endorse any of the companies mentioned (I haven't necessarily worked with them) and I haven't done all the legal research and due diligence.
Prelude:

What do I need?
  • An Amazon seller account
  • Willingness to spend $50-$200 on product and another couple hundred on advertising. There may be cheaper ways to do this with close to zero investment and I will annotate those options, but they all come with drawbacks

The Idea Framework:

When starting to brainstorm ideas from scratch, I am thinking about the question "what scenario or group of people can I provide value to in a specific way that others haven't?" Thinking about the question this way helps me find a niche. Here is an outline of the steps that you can follow.

  1. Think of attributes that separate people into groups with possible unique needs or requirements. Example: Height, age, sex,race,hair color, eye color, skin color, disability or special needs, left/right handedness, location, etc...
  2. Think of questions that could expose unique needs that these people would have just as a byproduct of being in this group. You are proding for problems to solve. If you had personal experience and unsolved problems, you wouldn't need to do this step. But you have none, so here we are. Examples:
    • What ingredients are X sensitive to?
    • What ingredients should X avoid?
    • What do people with X have to be careful of?
  3. Literally google the questions and read a good amount of results. Each problem that you encounter, add it to a Problems List and then see if there is a solution that is specifically marketed for this problem on Amazon. If the group itself is super niche, this may actually be enough! However this is usually not enough as most issues in the big groups have been addressed in the marketplace. You can also type that same question with the word "forum" afterward to see what people on forums have been complaining about as well. This can sometimes be gold for finding budding problems that the market hasn't caught up with yet. These base problems could also be harder to test sometimes because you may need to come up with a completely new invention or product versus repurposing other products that provide a solution.
  4. If you have found that all the very general problems have been taken care of, you should move onto the next step of the niche discovery process. Put yourself in the shoes of this group and think of ways your Problems List can be affected by everyday tasks or common products. Lets call this the Interaction List. This list obviously has unlimited iterations. Just make sure it is something that would have a large enough audience.
  5. Use google to see if the things on your Interaction list are actually issues or not. Example language: Does (some product or action) cause (some issue) for (group of people) . This is a good time to also see recommended solutions to these interactions. This will help you gauge whether this is something you can solve without reinventing the wheel.
  6. Search Amazon to see if there is a solution for this specifically.
  7. Go through steps 1-6 over and over again until you find a problem that has not been solved and that follow a majority of MJ's CENTS model. Ideally it would be something that you can creatively test without too big of investment. This isn't a requirement, but with unlimited problems to solve, why not make it easy on yourself?
OK. So those are the basic steps I recommend you follow for this method. If you are confused about any of the steps see the next part.

The Idea Example:

Here is the process I went through for this thread. I went through many FAILED iterations before coming up with this final product. However for brevity's sake, I will post a few examples in a follow-up post and not here. The steps line up to the previous chapters steps.

  1. People with blonde hair.
  2. Here are the two questions that made sense within the context of the group
    • "What do people with blonde hair have to be careful of?"
    • "What ingredients should blondes avoid?"
  3. Here is a short list of things that made my sample Problems List. If you google my questions from #2, you will see that this list is easily made just from the first page of results.
    • Hydration
    • Heat
    • Sun
    • Fading
    • Staining
    • Using things with dye's
    • Chlorine
    • Harsh Chemicals
    • Using color-safe hair care products
  4. All these issues are either things that the people in the group can just avoid, or there are solutions to the problem. So now I need to make an Interactions List. A good way to whittle down the list from unlimited is by excluding things that are directly related or unique to the specific problem. For example, it should be obvious that products designed specifically for blonde or colored hair are already solving the issue. There is no need in wasting time to see if you can make a shampoo that avoids those things (unless you have reason to believe otherwise). So I will think of things that may touch or expose blonde peoples hair to things on the Problems Listas a byproduct of normal daily activity and not specific to blonde people activity. A small list of immediate thoughts:
    • Hats
    • Scrunchies
    • Sunscreen
    • Lotions
    • Shower water
    • Going swimming
  5. I start googling and cross referencing with Amazon. With many of these it becomes immediately apparent that these issues have been solved (and I would have known that if I had colored hair). However I land on jackpot with "Does sunscreen discolor blonde hair". The answer is YES. Normal sunscreen discolors colored hair. Yes there are ways to continue to use sunscreen without discoloring hair. For example, further google searches shows that common ingredients like Avebenzone and Octocrylene are what cause the discoloration and mineral sunscreens do not.
  6. I search Amazon for "sunscreen for people with blonde hair", "sunscreen for people with colored hair", "sunscreen for blonde hair", and many other iterations. What I find is that there are sunscreen that you can specifically apply to colored hair to protect it, but there is no SKIN sunscreen that is advertised as being color safe. So when someone applies their generic face sunscreen, it can fade their bangs, eyebrows, mustache, etc...
  7. Bingo. This is an issue that affects a large group of people, so its scaling potential is huge. Even better, it has no direct competitors. This may seem like a home run, but I wouldn't get ahead of myself. Just because this is a common and unique problem that can be solved, doesn't mean people will actually search for or care for you to solve it.
That's it folks. Thats the idea part of the process. Next is the testing phase. Research Phase and then finally comes the Testing Phase.

:bulb:Follow up posts to this series:
---- The Preliminary Testing Phase
---- The Testing Phase
Hi @NeoDialectic , curious if you would be willing to share one or two of the products that you and your partner came up with using this framework? If not, no worries.
 

Malik96

New Contributor
Sep 27, 2021
1
1
What an absolute ocean of gold yourself and @fastlane_dad have been putting out recently.

Not only did you start to preach at the perfect time for me, but this and some of the other threads you two are a part of have been some of the best I've read.

Even if it is regurgitated information, just by using different wording to the same idea of fastlane entrepreneurship is a huge difference maker for those of us trying to piece together the puzzle. I really appreciate the specific details as it helps look at things on a different angle.

This post is exactly what I've been trying to understand, and I'm sure the next one about testing will be even better.
When people say "focus on the customer", they actually mean, "research the damn people and focus on the commandment of need which is solving people's specific needs/problems that they might not even be aware of".

Recently I've made the realization that ENTREPRENEURS ARE ACTORS.

WHAT WOULD AN ACTOR DO TO PREPARE FOR A ROLE OF THEIRS? THEY FULLY IMMERSE THEMSELVES INTO THE STORY OF THE CHARACTER AND THEIR NUANCES. THE BEST ACTORS ACT AS THE CHARACTER EVEN BEYOND THE FILMING HOURS. BECOME THE BEST ACTOR AS POSSIBLE, BY UNDERSTANDING THE INHERENT PROBLEM BEING FACED BY THE TARGET CUSTOMER.

This is the Commandment of Need.
That is an excellent point. Rephrasing does help a lot in making points clear.
I have experienced this myself that many people say the same thing but with the right and effective selection of words the message becomes clear and easy to understand.
 

DougRMR

Contributor
Apr 19, 2019
103
83
thanks for replying here and to my pm. just wanted to share what i already mentioned to you in case others are following along or have additional insigh to share (im all ears)!

after doing some more research i think that it could be useful to specifically target new moms who are getting cold sores. because babies can face severe issues if they are exposed to cold sores. even leading to death in some cases.

and with new moms being in constant contact, kissing, hugging, touching their babies i would feel like they would be desperate to find a solution marketed to them.

also found out that 67% of the world has hsv-1 which causes cold sores. so there seems to be a huge TAM.

but as @NeoDialectic pointed out in his pm to me - OTC (over the counter) health products like this can face heavy regulations.

i have interest in this because it has affected me personally for so many years but i dont want to get married to a single idea.

curious what other readers think? any other obvious roadblocks i may be missing?
Glad you're getting good ideas cuz I also got a pretty solid need idea with NeoDialectic's technique. Just started to design the product logo and bought the active ingredient to see if it works like I want it to and if it works, I'll start working on the landing page.

What I would say is be aware that the manufacturers of your cold sore cure will probably have a high minimum of how much you can buy. Say, $3000 worth of the product. I dunno what exactly your active ingredient is, so it might not be that much of a problem but something to keep in mind.
 
Don't like ads? Remove them while supporting the forum: Subscribe to Fastlane Insiders.

ArmanK

Contributor
Read Fastlane!
Read Unscripted!
Apr 30, 2022
40
41
Glad you're getting good ideas cuz I also got a pretty solid need idea with NeoDialectic's technique. Just started to design the product logo and bought the active ingredient to see if it works like I want it to and if it works, I'll start working on the landing page.

What I would say is be aware that the manufacturers of your cold sore cure will probably have a high minimum of how much you can buy. Say, $3000 worth of the product. I dunno what exactly your active ingredient is, so it might not be that much of a problem but something to keep in mind.
Thanks for this @DougRMR

I think it may be beneficial to create a landing page and run some traffic to it to see what kind of interest there is before committing to placing any minimum orders.

what do you think?

also curious to hear about your idea?
 

DougRMR

Contributor
Apr 19, 2019
103
83
Thanks for this @DougRMR

I think it may be beneficial to create a landing page and run some traffic to it to see what kind of interest there is before committing to placing any minimum orders.

what do you think?

also curious to hear about your idea?
Yeah, you can check market interest with Google Ads or FB. That's what I plan on doing

Personally, I'm going to target a niche that has stomach problems with a certain food intolerance. The research I made made it pretty clear that there is a natural remedy that hasn't seemed to gain traction
 

Zahida A. Khan

Contributor
Jun 11, 2020
63
51
Toronto
Hopefully all this has helped you guys peek behind the curtain a little bit and got you going in the right direction.
You did such a fantastic job documenting your process and most of what you covered, we had experienced.

In 2014, myself and 2 other digital marketers decided to start a physical product biz since we all had ZERO knowledge in this arena. Once the decision was made 2 setup a company together to learn the physical product biz, within 24 hours I managed to narrow which manufacturer we'll work with - just using common sense with partners can catapult the process faster

I highly recommend partners to keep you accountable and get the creative juices flowing, as well as to divide responsibilities.

Again @NeoDialectic, you have done a fantastic job as much of the same process we went through without any physical product knowledge

Happy to say that we were the 1st company to design a 3-in-1 Butter Knife and rode the wave until competition drove the price down - initially, twas upsetting 2 see competition, then we mellowed and said, "damn, we designed a fantastic product that attracted competition." ;)
 
Don't like ads? Remove them while supporting the forum: Subscribe to Fastlane Insiders.

NeoDialectic

Successfully Exited the Rat Race
FASTLANE INSIDER
Read Rat-Race Escape!
Read Fastlane!
Read Unscripted!
Speedway Pass
Feb 11, 2022
93
466
Phoenix, az
Hi @NeoDialectic , curious if you would be willing to share one or two of the products that you and your partner came up with using this framework? If not, no worries.
We never wrote the framework itself down before this thread, but the steps themselves were used naturally after years of finding and selling new products successfully. As per our business sales agreement, we can't disclose what items we sold in the past. But in general, we used this type of framework to find things in the beauty, health and the personal care fields.

We have sold physical items like automotive products in the past as well, but we didn't come up through this exact iterative process. It was before we were as experienced. Although it was using similar thought processes and a similar testing philosophy. Even if you don't go about finding products to sell our way, you should be able to apply many of the methods (research and testing) to help you launch your product.

If you are looking for something that was came up with using the framework that we would legitimately test, it's right in the example from the thread. I wrote the framework based on starting from square one and trying to come up with something.
I painstakingly went through the process multiple times, documenting every search, every major thought and after many dead ends I ended up on the sunscreen example. The step by step guide is a distillation of the process to get to the successful end result, pitfalls and all.

The sunscreen example, as written, is literally something we would proceed to test. The idea thread required us to be completely transparent of every part of the idea so we didn't go through with the idea and considered it the proverbial "sacrificial lamb" to be able to write a thorough guide.
 

NeoDialectic

Successfully Exited the Rat Race
FASTLANE INSIDER
Read Rat-Race Escape!
Read Fastlane!
Read Unscripted!
Speedway Pass
Feb 11, 2022
93
466
Phoenix, az
You did such a fantastic job documenting your process and most of what you covered, we had experienced.

In 2014, myself and 2 other digital marketers decided to start a physical product biz since we all had ZERO knowledge in this arena. Once the decision was made 2 setup a company together to learn the physical product biz, within 24 hours I managed to narrow which manufacturer we'll work with - just using common sense with partners can catapult the process faster

I highly recommend partners to keep you accountable and get the creative juices flowing, as well as to divide responsibilities.

Again @NeoDialectic, you have done a fantastic job as much of the same process we went through without any physical product knowledge

Happy to say that we were the 1st company to design a 3-in-1 Butter Knife and rode the wave until competition drove the price down - initially, twas upsetting 2 see competition, then we mellowed and said, "damn, we designed a fantastic product that attracted competition." ;)
Sounds like an great ride! It's always interesting to think about the idea that people have an item YOU made/designed in their home and are using it in their daily lives. Very rewarding in itself when you think about it that way.

Did you end up selling your business or are you still selling the products?

Consider making a dedicated thread in the introduction section of this forum too. I'm sure people would be fascinated to hear the whole story!
 

DougRMR

Contributor
Apr 19, 2019
103
83
Currently working on the copy for the landing page. I'm struggling on where to start and how long to make the landing page since it's a pretty straightforward cheap product that I don't think needs too much convincing. Kinda frozen in place but will barrel through
 
Don't like ads? Remove them while supporting the forum: Subscribe to Fastlane Insiders.

Myster kouadj

Contributor
Read Fastlane!
Mar 13, 2022
130
78
Thank you very much for taking your time to detail this testing process.
The Testing Framework:

You have finally arrived at the most crucial step. Remember, no matter how genius you think your idea is, you are not the market. Entrepreneurship is like gambling. If you are like me, you don't like gambling when the odds are not your favor. So you want to do your best to change your odds from the odds of the player, to the odds of the house. That means having a long term mindset and leaving enough for next time. You may lose this time, but if you learn and keep trying then the odds are in your favor of winning over the long term. That is why I don't recommend blowing all your resources on your first idea. Of course it is possible that you can bet it all on 00 on the roulette table and win. But it is not likely.

So with that in mind, you have to give the idea your spiritual all but not have it ruin you. You can't keep trying when you used all your mana on the first try. This can mean different things to different people. The larger the investment you make, the faster and more accurately you finish this part. Only you can decide what is right for you. @fastlane_dad and I have always bootstrapped as much as we can through the beginning stages. We replaced investment capital demands with creativity. Hopefully I can show you how to do that as well.

This part of the process will rely heavily on you answering the 1st question from the Preliminary Research Example correctly and concisely. You want to try and figure out how you can solve the issue or provide the value to the customer with as little monetary investment as you can. Here are some ways to do this:
  • Making something at home
  • Repurposing an existing product
  • Finding private label alternatives
  • Negotiating small samples
  • A combination of all these things
This is probably the one step that is the most diverse and difficult to make concise steps for. Most people would be surprised by the type of things you could test. However each type of issue/product may require it's own type of test. Once you have practiced this exercise enough, it will become easier and easier to see the way.

One of the biggest roadblocks people have in their thinking is believing that their product needs to be perfect. That is far from the truth. During your testing phase, the first thing you put out can be rudimentary in most areas as long as it is effective in the specific value you are proposing to solve. Once you get a good market signal from testing, then you can scale up investment on par with the signal and you can pour your heart and soul into the final product. You will find that along the way during the testing phase, you may actually have to adapt your mission statement and end up somewhere completely different!

Another roadblock is thinking that their solution isn't worth the money your customer will give you. If you naturally think this, it may be hard to shake this feeling. But you should be able to solve any guilt associated with this concern easily. This is how we do it...We legitimately want all our customers happy. So we provide a very liberal return policy. If the customer is not satisfied, they get an instant refund and a thank you for giving us a shot. It's no skin off their back. We want everyone to walk away happy. As long as you are solving the customers issue, most people will be happy. Those that aren't, get their money back.

Keep in mind that once you start getting sales, these methods should be phased out and turned into something high quality. The point of this exercise isn't how to make the fastest money by producing the crappiest product. The point is to figure out if you should spend your valuable time and resources on making the best product to solve the problem. Making the best product you can usually means something high quality, well thought through, and just overall something you can be proud of. A better product will get more more happy customers, reorders, more referrals, less refunds, and a leg up on competitors when they finally come.

The Testing Example:

During our research in the previous parts, it became clear that a solution already exists that just isn't marketed this way. Mineral sunscreens do not have the offending chemicals and are widespread. This gives us a wide array of choices.

Side note: Remember when I said a roadblock is thinking your solution isn't worth the money? This is a place where many people would feel that way. They think just because you are selling the customer an existing product, that you are somehow pulling one over on the customer. That is a very incorrect way of looking at things. Knowledge isn't free. My mother wouldn't sit there researching what ingredients won't discolor her hair. She has better things to do with her time. She would just go on Amazon and type color safe sunscreen, or something of the sort. Currently, no one is giving her an option that she could immediately be comfortable buying without doing more digging. You will. There's nothing misleading or bad about that. That is a huge value add. Every time we buy something based on a brand, we do this too. We use the brand as a heuristic to mean "this is a well enough known brand that even though it may not be the absolute best, I think it will be good enough to solve my issue and I am willing to spend a little more for the brand name to ensure that without doing my own research". Most of us do this and are more than willing to pay for this shortcut!​

Different types of product have their own set of testing solutions. Here are a diverse set of examples for this type of product.

The quickest most unethical way
You can create a mock product with 3d renderings. You will either prevent the order from being placed (on your own website) or cancel orders that are placed. Not only may this not be ethical, but there are also other issues. If you are preventing an order being placed by doing something like giving an error during checkout, then you don't actually know if the customer would have went through with it. Carts are abandoned all the time. If you are cancelling orders, this could get you into hot water very fast in most the marketplaces and you may find your account at risk and you stuck at go before you even began. So we do not recommend this route if at all possible.

The quick hands on way
It looks like the fastest ways to have a product in hand to test for this example is by making sunscreen at home.
Side note: Think no one wants your homemade sunscreen? O ye, of little faith. Why don't you type in "sunscreen" into Etsy.com search and see how many sales are happening. Even when the customer knows that it is literally hand made in a random mom's kitchen, they are still more than happy to buy it.​
The tradeoff with this is that you have to do more research into regulations and you have to be willing to get your hands literally messy. This is a completely acceptable solution. We have done the equivalent of this and there is nothing unethical about this as long as you do this legitimately and follow any regulations. Don't let regulations scare you away. You can google "regulations to produce sunscreen" and there will be a ton of info on it, including directly from the FDA. A quick shortcut for regulations on labelling is just to copy existing products labels and change the design elements while keeping the same structure and wording.

The best part about this way is that with enough motivation you could literally have a product in your hands by the end of the day. More realistically you could have something within a week or so. Do the research on how to make one online, buy the ingredients, the bottles, get a local place to print labels and you are on your way! Use google at every step of the way.

  • "How do I make a mineral sunscreen"
  • "Where do I buy X ingredient"
  • "Where do I buy a X color pump bottle"
  • "Where do I buy a X color pump"
  • "Where can I print a label"
You can either do the designs yourself or hire someone on some place like fiverr.com to do it.

Remember....you aren't optimizing for cutting cost or absolute highest quality here. You just want something "good enough to get the job done" and while still reasonably priced in low quantities.

We wouldn't currently do this as we have money to invest, but this is a decent choice.

The quick hands off way
This is the way we would likely do things right now. I would google for "private label mineral sunscreen" and start calling places. Here are two places that I chose for this example. Keep in mind that I chose them strictly as an example because of how easy it was to find the price. I have never used them and have no idea how good the product is:


Code:
https://www.wildwestskincare.com/collections/sunscreen-with-zinc-titanium-dioxide
https://proceuticalspl.com/


The first one doesn't look as visually appealing but I can get singles for $37 or 10 at $20 a piece. The second one looks more professional in my opinion and the minimum order number is $24 at a cost of $25.50 a unit. Many private label companies will give you label templates and even make sure you are following regulation on the label. This may ease some peoples anxiety with doing it yourself.

So for $37 + shipping you can have a real product in your hand and be in the market very quickly! Or you may choose to invest a couple hundred to get a more professional looking starting batch. Again, this depends on your circumstances and goals. Don't forget that you can usually negotiate with these companies. There are dozens that provide these services and with a well thought through phone call you may be able to get a very good product, at a very low quantity and at a good price.

The traditional route
I won't spend to much time on this since this is the most intuitive route. But I would be remiss if I didn't mention the traditional route. You find a contract manufacturer that makes your types of product. You start a relationship with them and discuss your requirements for the product. They will be glad to provide you stock formulas for the type of product you want to make and then you have to do more research on how you would want to customize it. For example, you would ask them to provide you with a sample of a stock mineral sunscreen. If you like their sample, you would ask them to add X, Y, Z ingredient to it to provide even more value to your customer. Or maybe there is an expensive ingredient that most don't use but you can because you will price your product accordingly. The guy you talk to can be a wealth of knowledge as this is what they do all day and they too want you to succeed. So don't be afraid to ask. Doing this could demand a $3,000 - $10,000 investment. Depending on alot of factors.

At this point in our career, there is a good chance that we would do things this way. A few thousand dollar investment isn't much for us and we could go straight to providing as much value as possible with a custom end product. If the test succeeds, we would still try to improve the product from this step based on feedback or more research we have done. But If we fail, we would have alot more personal investment where that came from so we could easily shrug it off. That's why I said your level of investment and commitment is a very personal thing.

Conclusions:

So these are the ways you can get up and running very quickly to test the market for your product. If you have touched on a strong market need, you will know immediately. But don't be discouraged if results are first lackluster. You should try different marketing and different angles of attack. Many successful products will start off with only selling very slowly. This is still a huge win! Many people will be turned away because of the inherent flaws in your test mule. But you only gambled small financial investment and now you are more confident in investing the required time and financial resources to make that AWESOME product that will drive a productocracy. This is where you become an expert in all things sunscreen and colored/blonde hair. You can spend days/weeks/etc properly researching people's experiences online/offline and even scientific papers written on these topics and ingredients. Then you go through the iterative steps of creating a good presentable products. But again, you are doing all this knowing that when you have the final product in hand you, people are going to be snatching it out of your hands! Too many aspiring entrepreneurs spend all day at the creation phase and either come up with a spectacular product that no one wants or give up because they lose motivation through the slow creation phase. There's nothing like sales coming in on your test mules to continue motivation you during this phase.

A strong immediate response is usually the best thing you could hope for, but don't write off slow responses or product you have to tweak. They can still become big hits or even if they don't, a milquetoast response product can still make you more than the US median salary. That's the power of being the producer.

We have ordered our "final" product as soon as within 1 week of starting the test phase or as late as months after. It all depended on the market response, whether we had to keep tweaking/testing and how much time we had to dedicate to this product at the time.

Epilogue:

Alright guys. Hopefully all this has helped you guys peek behind the curtain a little bit and got you going in the right direction. As I have been writing this series, I see there is probably a lot more that needs to be addressed. For example I do have alot of failed examples during the Idea phase that would show good lessons. There are also countless examples I could make of how to test different types of products. When you see enough of them, you can start picking up on the similarities and it becomes easier formulating your own successful tests. I think there are probably steps that I glossed over that deserve their own focus as well, like the marketing/ad copy/listings/etc. Let me know which areas still leave you scratching your head. So I may continue the series in the future. But for now, I'm exhausted of writing! :rofl:
 

DCDeuce

Bronze Contributor
FASTLANE INSIDER
Read Fastlane!
Read Unscripted!
Speedway Pass
Dec 3, 2016
58
102
Washington DC
@NeoDialectic Thanks for this fantastic write-up!

I've decided to anchor down and start an AMZ private label brand, the physical product that I decided to move forward with does not exist on AMZ with the changes I want to make at this time. I've already decided on manufacturers and have received samples but now I'm thinking I should slow down a bit and use your process to see if my physical product has a larger audience.

What I mean is, are there any other things I should be doing for product research? I've joined forums and FB groups/communities in order to speak to people who are looking for a solution to what I've created and I've purchased H10.

Or do you think it is better to pay someone to do this phase of the business?
 

NeoDialectic

Successfully Exited the Rat Race
FASTLANE INSIDER
Read Rat-Race Escape!
Read Fastlane!
Read Unscripted!
Speedway Pass
Feb 11, 2022
93
466
Phoenix, az
@NeoDialectic Thanks for this fantastic write-up!

I've decided to anchor down and start an AMZ private label brand, the physical product that I decided to move forward with does not exist on AMZ with the changes I want to make at this time. I've already decided on manufacturers and have received samples but now I'm thinking I should slow down a bit and use your process to see if my physical product has a larger audience.

What I mean is, are there any other things I should be doing for product research? I've joined forums and FB groups/communities in order to speak to people who are looking for a solution to what I've created and I've purchased H10.

Or do you think it is better to pay someone to do this phase of the business?
I've got alot of questions before I can chime in.
  1. I'm not sure what you are referring to when you say "better to pay someone to do this phase of the business". Pay for what? Are you asking if you should pay a market research company?
  2. Are you asking what other steps you should go through to do testing, on top of the steps I have provided or are you asking if you should do the testing steps I provided in your case?
  3. With the research you have done thus far, what makes you believe that this product is something that alot of people are looking for?
  4. Are you providing a large enough value add (perceived or real) to clearly differentiate yourself from competitors (either direct or substitute products that people have been using to solve the issue thus far)
  5. What general field is this in?
  6. How much is the startup investment for getting the first batch?
  7. Is the answer to #6 alot of money to your personal financial situation?
 
Don't like ads? Remove them while supporting the forum: Subscribe to Fastlane Insiders.

fastlane_dad

8 Figure Fastlane Graduate
FASTLANE INSIDER
Read Rat-Race Escape!
Read Fastlane!
Read Unscripted!
Speedway Pass
Jun 20, 2017
105
555
39
Scottsdale, AZ
@NeoDialectic Thanks for this fantastic write-up!

I've decided to anchor down and start an AMZ private label brand, the physical product that I decided to move forward with does not exist on AMZ with the changes I want to make at this time. I've already decided on manufacturers and have received samples but now I'm thinking I should slow down a bit and use your process to see if my physical product has a larger audience.

What I mean is, are there any other things I should be doing for product research? I've joined forums and FB groups/communities in order to speak to people who are looking for a solution to what I've created and I've purchased H10.

Or do you think it is better to pay someone to do this phase of the business?
Yes - you should 'validate' or 'test the market' to the best of your abilities prior to going all in - but it all also all depends on what your investment for this will look like and how much it will hurt if it doesn't work out. Does the marketplace need mugs with purple dopey holographic dinosaurs on there (or whatever your one of a kind idea is)? How big of a problem are you solving? OR is it a novel , fantastic natural solution to battling blood pressure or diabetic issues with unique ingredients sourced from the Himalayas by donkeys?

Sometimes the best test or validation - is putting it out onto the open market itself. And don't 'block' yourself in - into thinking it needs to be fully an AMZ business - maybe your real audience / customer is sitting somewhere else.

The third aspect of this also is have you done an AMZ business before or what experience do you have on that marketplace? The truth is there is a lot of competition now on that platform, and even if you have a very unique , one of a kind product - how will people find you on there? It's a different landscape then 10 years ago.

Maybe you have ways to send traffic to there (social media? influencers? your own blog? your own facebook groups?) -- Maybe theres tons of AMZ searches, without a solution there present.

I can't assume any of these. Just know that the AMZ road today is not an easy one, even with a terrific, one of a kind product offering a unique solution applicable to a massive audience.
 
Last edited:

DCDeuce

Bronze Contributor
FASTLANE INSIDER
Read Fastlane!
Read Unscripted!
Speedway Pass
Dec 3, 2016
58
102
Washington DC
I've got alot of questions before I can chime in.
  1. I'm not sure what you are referring to when you say "better to pay someone to do this phase of the business". Pay for what? Are you asking if you should pay a market research company?
  2. Are you asking what other steps you should go through to do testing, on top of the steps I have provided or are you asking if you should do the testing steps I provided in your case?
  3. With the research you have done thus far, what makes you believe that this product is something that alot of people are looking for?
  4. Are you providing a large enough value add (perceived or real) to clearly differentiate yourself from competitors (either direct or substitute products that people have been using to solve the issue thus far)
  5. What general field is this in?
  6. How much is the startup investment for getting the first batch?
  7. Is the answer to #6 alot of money to your personal financial situation?
Sure,

1. What I mean is, that a lot of people within the different FB communities that I joined to familiarize, myself and learn about AMZ have messaged and dm'ed about helping with product research. I considered this because I was thinking that maybe I had not done enough product research and the majority of these people in the forums had.

2. I was waking if there was anything else I should do in addition to the steps you laid out for product research/validation.

3. Earlier this year I read 12 Months to 1M (Ryan Moran's book) and in the book, he mentions joining FB groups and doing research to help build an audience, help validate your product and allow others to follow along so I did that. The product is something I would use myself and am passionate about. Looking on AMZ I see that there are 5 sellers selling a similar product in this niche but all have a sub-4 star rating, and have under 100 reviews. Looking over H10 I see that there are other products in this niche that have over 10k sales a month and still have an overall sub-4 star review. This makes me think that is a market for this product, people are possibly looking for this product but want it to be more convenient and I believe I can make it more convenient.

4. Yes, absolutely. I can make this product more convenient, make the changes to this product thave buyers have suggested, and likely make it for a lower cost but I do not want to create a race to the bottom. I believe I can also market it to a different segment of buyers who none of the other sellers are marketing to.

5. The general field is supplements but it isnt pre-workout powder or protein powders (I know a tough and expensive field to get into).

6. The first batch (without AMZ fees) is going to cost me roughly $4500 shipped to me, lower if I ship to AMZ but a few sellers in the various FB AMZ communities have said to not tell the manufacturers where you'll be selling so they do not compete with you.

7. It is not, I realistically have 10k to invest initially. Do you think I should have more?

Thanks for the reply.
 

TStreet

New Contributor
Jun 6, 2022
9
7
@NeoDialectic Thanks for this fantastic write-up!

I've decided to anchor down and start an AMZ private label brand, the physical product that I decided to move forward with does not exist on AMZ with the changes I want to make at this time. I've already decided on manufacturers and have received samples but now I'm thinking I should slow down a bit and use your process to see if my physical product has a larger audience.

What I mean is, are there any other things I should be doing for product research? I've joined forums and FB groups/communities in order to speak to people who are looking for a solution to what I've created and I've purchased H10.

Or do you think it is better to pay someone to do this phase of the business?
Reading through this thread to just learn more about processes and think its amazing you already have samples. How did you find your manufacturer ?
 
Don't like ads? Remove them while supporting the forum: Subscribe to Fastlane Insiders.

DCDeuce

Bronze Contributor
FASTLANE INSIDER
Read Fastlane!
Read Unscripted!
Speedway Pass
Dec 3, 2016
58
102
Washington DC
Reading through this thread to just learn more about processes and think its amazing you already have samples. How did you find your manufacturer ?
Sure, the short version is that I was looking on Alibaba but decided to search Reddit and Upwork to see where others where going. Searching both overwhelmingly lead me to a website called 1688.com. 1688.com is the non-US version of Alibaba. On 1688 the suppliers do not speak English and you will likely not be able to search the website unless you have a vpn.

I got on Upwork and got a sourcing agent and started looking for a supplier, I reached out to 10 of them (via my sourcing agent) with a generic formula with my specifications and once the sourcing agent received them he sent them to me.
 

fridge

Bronze Contributor
FASTLANE INSIDER
Speedway Pass
Jun 4, 2020
82
103
USA
I have a question in regards to optimizing time in creating an e-commerce product, or testing new ideas before production.
Quick backstory:
I found a product in a certain niche on Amazon that I can compete with. I've fixed a major complaint about the product that I see in the reviews on every similar product within this niche. Not only did I fix the common complaint that no one else has been able to address, but I've added a frequently bought item together to it to create a bundle, and best of all, I'll be able to offer this bundled, improved product at the same price or very close to the price of the existing products on the market and still make a profit.

My question here is this:
While I have created a product that improves upon previous iterations, and have added an additional item to create a bundle, it's taken me about 3 months from start (working on fixing common complaint, sourcing additional item, adding logo/etc, quality control) to receiving my first shipment of 150 items (within the next 10-15 days). This doesn't include when I actually receive the product, hire a product photographer, write copywriting for the ads, create the listing, etc, which will likely be another week or two. My concern here is, if I invested all this time into one product, and it fails, it doesn't seem repeatable to keep creating one product at a time - at this rate, even if I did it for 7 years I'd only have 15 products tested - if everything went smoothly.
So what strategy has worked best for you in regards to minimizing risk/increasing product creation time? Do you develop multiple products in a certain niche at one time so even if one fails you have 2 or 3 more you can test out? Do you spend time/money running ads/etc to shopify pages as if the product was already made/developed before starting a new product endeavor? Just curious what your thoughts are on this.
 

DougRMR

Contributor
Apr 19, 2019
103
83
Update on Idea-to-Execution Amazon plan:

Halfway done on the landing page, completely done with the product copy. Finally got the hang of designing exactly what I wanted to do. After I'm done with the website itself, gonna optimize it and make it responisve. After that, will start with the FB ads, most of which the copy is already done.

A few things I learned:
-Google Scholar is crazy valuable, especially for supplements and stuff that could use evidence to help "the rub" of your product.
-You'll probably get a million roadblocks before you even start. The reason it took me this long to even get halfway into the website was because the domain/servers started to get wonky for some reason, my laptop's only charger got busted up and the things I had in mind were 10 times harder than I imagined. Still, I'm glad I'm getting things done.

Kinda impatient, cause it feels like I'm action-faking in a way (since I'm not market testing yet) but I know I'll get there little by little.

Dunno if anyone's still hanging on to this idea but would love to hear anybody else's experience
 
Don't like ads? Remove them while supporting the forum: Subscribe to Fastlane Insiders.

DCDeuce

Bronze Contributor
FASTLANE INSIDER
Read Fastlane!
Read Unscripted!
Speedway Pass
Dec 3, 2016
58
102
Washington DC
Update on Idea-to-Execution Amazon plan:

Halfway done on the landing page, completely done with the product copy. Finally got the hang of designing exactly what I wanted to do. After I'm done with the website itself, gonna optimize it and make it responisve. After that, will start with the FB ads, most of which the copy is already done.

A few things I learned:
-Google Scholar is crazy valuable, especially for supplements and stuff that could use evidence to help "the rub" of your product.
-You'll probably get a million roadblocks before you even start. The reason it took me this long to even get halfway into the website was because the domain/servers started to get wonky for some reason, my laptop's only charger got busted up and the things I had in mind were 10 times harder than I imagined. Still, I'm glad I'm getting things done.

Kinda impatient, cause it feels like I'm action-faking in a way (since I'm not market testing yet) but I know I'll get there little by little.

Dunno if anyone's still hanging on to this idea but would love to hear anybody else's experience
+1 re: Google Scholar!

I'll post my update Thursday. I'm working with my supplier on more samples as the last round of samples weren't quite what I wanted. I already have a product website but will be creating a second product landing page that links from the initial product page. Also running FB ads, my metrics are not great but I'm testing 10 different creatives half of which have different copy from the other (creatives 1-5 have a different copy from creatives 5-10).

Also got approved for my AMZ seller account and am watching every video in seller central (apparently a lot of sellers do not do this and a lot of the seasoned sellers highly advise watching every video in seller central).

Keep pushing man!
 

DougRMR

Contributor
Apr 19, 2019
103
83
+1 re: Google Scholar!

I'll post my update Thursday. I'm working with my supplier on more samples as the last round of samples weren't quite what I wanted. I already have a product website but will be creating a second product landing page that links from the initial product page. Also running FB ads, my metrics are not great but I'm testing 10 different creatives half of which have different copy from the other (creatives 1-5 have a different copy from creatives 5-10).

Also got approved for my AMZ seller account and am watching every video in seller central (apparently a lot of sellers do not do this and a lot of the seasoned sellers highly advise watching every video in seller central).

Keep pushing man!
that's awesome, man! I don't dare make my AMZ seller account yet since I've heard they're very stringent and can ban you easily. Wanted to have at least the market demand confirmed before I even made the seller account. Or is this not necessary? Can I just start making the seller account now?

Anyways, let's keep at it
 

NeoDialectic

Successfully Exited the Rat Race
FASTLANE INSIDER
Read Rat-Race Escape!
Read Fastlane!
Read Unscripted!
Speedway Pass
Feb 11, 2022
93
466
Phoenix, az
Sure,

1. What I mean is, that a lot of people within the different FB communities that I joined to familiarize, myself and learn about AMZ have messaged and dm'ed about helping with product research. I considered this because I was thinking that maybe I had not done enough product research and the majority of these people in the forums had.

2. I was waking if there was anything else I should do in addition to the steps you laid out for product research/validation.

3. Earlier this year I read 12 Months to 1M (Ryan Moran's book) and in the book, he mentions joining FB groups and doing research to help build an audience, help validate your product and allow others to follow along so I did that. The product is something I would use myself and am passionate about. Looking on AMZ I see that there are 5 sellers selling a similar product in this niche but all have a sub-4 star rating, and have under 100 reviews. Looking over H10 I see that there are other products in this niche that have over 10k sales a month and still have an overall sub-4 star review. This makes me think that is a market for this product, people are possibly looking for this product but want it to be more convenient and I believe I can make it more convenient.

4. Yes, absolutely. I can make this product more convenient, make the changes to this product thave buyers have suggested, and likely make it for a lower cost but I do not want to create a race to the bottom. I believe I can also market it to a different segment of buyers who none of the other sellers are marketing to.

5. The general field is supplements but it isnt pre-workout powder or protein powders (I know a tough and expensive field to get into).

6. The first batch (without AMZ fees) is going to cost me roughly $4500 shipped to me, lower if I ship to AMZ but a few sellers in the various FB AMZ communities have said to not tell the manufacturers where you'll be selling so they do not compete with you.

7. It is not, I realistically have 10k to invest initially. Do you think I should have more?

Thanks for the reply.
1. I can't speak for these "researchers". I'm sure maybe someone finds value in them, but I personally would leave those messages on read.

2. We are big advocates of taking things one step at a time and really testing things out. However at a certain point, depending on the type of product, you need to make an investment and get the actual product made. Don't keep researching and action faking. Either figure out a way to test the product based on ways I have described in this thread, or invest.

I recently wrote a thread that may have some value to you that is kind of on this topic HERE

7. No, that is enough.

I think it sounds like you have done sufficient research on the topic. As mentioned in the bulletpoints, it seems like oyu have to decide how you should test it next. Either figure out a way to test the market for your idea without making the $4,500 investment to get it professionally made.....Invest the $4,500 to get the product made and test that way.....Or move on.

Sure, the short version is that I was looking on Alibaba but decided to search Reddit and Upwork to see where others where going. Searching both overwhelmingly lead me to a website called 1688.com. 1688.com is the non-US version of Alibaba. On 1688 the suppliers do not speak English and you will likely not be able to search the website unless you have a vpn.

I got on Upwork and got a sourcing agent and started looking for a supplier, I reached out to 10 of them (via my sourcing agent) with a generic formula with my specifications and once the sourcing agent received them he sent them to me.

If it is a supplement...... Be careful sourcing those from China. I'm not saying you can't do it succesfully. I am saying there is a decent chance you are gonna get a crap product with crap ingredients that wouldn't pass American QC standards.
 
Don't like ads? Remove them while supporting the forum: Subscribe to Fastlane Insiders.

NeoDialectic

Successfully Exited the Rat Race
FASTLANE INSIDER
Read Rat-Race Escape!
Read Fastlane!
Read Unscripted!
Speedway Pass
Feb 11, 2022
93
466
Phoenix, az
I have a question in regards to optimizing time in creating an e-commerce product, or testing new ideas before production.
Quick backstory:
I found a product in a certain niche on Amazon that I can compete with. I've fixed a major complaint about the product that I see in the reviews on every similar product within this niche. Not only did I fix the common complaint that no one else has been able to address, but I've added a frequently bought item together to it to create a bundle, and best of all, I'll be able to offer this bundled, improved product at the same price or very close to the price of the existing products on the market and still make a profit.

My question here is this:
While I have created a product that improves upon previous iterations, and have added an additional item to create a bundle, it's taken me about 3 months from start (working on fixing common complaint, sourcing additional item, adding logo/etc, quality control) to receiving my first shipment of 150 items (within the next 10-15 days). This doesn't include when I actually receive the product, hire a product photographer, write copywriting for the ads, create the listing, etc, which will likely be another week or two. My concern here is, if I invested all this time into one product, and it fails, it doesn't seem repeatable to keep creating one product at a time - at this rate, even if I did it for 7 years I'd only have 15 products tested - if everything went smoothly.
So what strategy has worked best for you in regards to minimizing risk/increasing product creation time? Do you develop multiple products in a certain niche at one time so even if one fails you have 2 or 3 more you can test out? Do you spend time/money running ads/etc to shopify pages as if the product was already made/developed before starting a new product endeavor? Just curious what your thoughts are on this.
This is a great question, so I will think about maybe making a bigger post on this. In the meantime...

It's not a race. Things take time. If you have the mental bandwidth, stamina, and funds to test multiple things at one time. I won't be the one stopping you! But it's not something I would generally recommend, especially as a beginner. You will make alot of mistakes along the way as you go through iterations. Doing ventures sequentially allow you to make the mistake, learn from it, and prevent that mistake from happening the next time.

If you really wanted to expedite your progress, I would go more towards spreading out your ideas across many genre's versus focusing on just one. For example, if you wanted to try a bunch of things, I wouldn't recommend going from making 1 product to sell on Amazon to trying 5 different products to sell on Amazon. There is so much you will learn from putting up your first product on Amazon. 1 of those things may even be "oh boy, I really misread what Amazon customers want". It would be better for you to have 1 product in the works to sell on Amazon and then also dip your toes in your Etsy Candle making business (probably a horrible business idea, but it was just an example off the top of my head!). Or your Power washing empire. etc... Then after you learn from all these different areas, you can start leveraging what you learned in one into the other. My recent post HERE, kind of talks about this. Make sure to read @fastlane_dad post right after mine to see that there are different ways to approach this.

As you can see, this may be a long road. But there's beer and free ice cream at the end, so keep driving! This is why we usually recommend you have a good way to derive income in the meantime that allows you to continue living a decent life in the meantime. (Also known as a job)
 

NeoDialectic

Successfully Exited the Rat Race
FASTLANE INSIDER
Read Rat-Race Escape!
Read Fastlane!
Read Unscripted!
Speedway Pass
Feb 11, 2022
93
466
Phoenix, az
Update on Idea-to-Execution Amazon plan:

Halfway done on the landing page, completely done with the product copy. Finally got the hang of designing exactly what I wanted to do. After I'm done with the website itself, gonna optimize it and make it responisve. After that, will start with the FB ads, most of which the copy is already done.

A few things I learned:
-Google Scholar is crazy valuable, especially for supplements and stuff that could use evidence to help "the rub" of your product.
-You'll probably get a million roadblocks before you even start. The reason it took me this long to even get halfway into the website was because the domain/servers started to get wonky for some reason, my laptop's only charger got busted up and the things I had in mind were 10 times harder than I imagined. Still, I'm glad I'm getting things done.

Kinda impatient, cause it feels like I'm action-faking in a way (since I'm not market testing yet) but I know I'll get there little by little.

Dunno if anyone's still hanging on to this idea but would love to hear anybody else's experience
1 million times YES on basically everything you just said.

Your roadblock example is so true that it hurts. It's a running intra-office quip. If you asked me how long it would take me to build our last business that was selling 100s of products a day from start to finish... I would say maybe a few days of pedal to the medal action ( Or at WORST a few months if you include the time to have the product created and in hand..where most the time is just waiting on that shipment)........ Surface level it feels 100% true. But anyways, let me setup a newsletter for our products really quick. I can't imagine it taking more than 30 minutes considering there are already services that help you with this....Which turns into a back and forth of trying to get your newsletter emails to land in the customers inbox instead of spam. 10 email templates, 3 email services, 2 domain servers, and 3 weeks later you finally finished your 30 minute job. Oh, and it kind of looks like a 6th grader made it in Microsoft word with some word art..So someone should probably do something about that. Dont worry, we will get to it shortly....a.k.a.THREE YEARS LATER

It's all part of not just the struggles of making something new, but your growth as an entrepreneur. My first website took ages to make. Now, I've made new professional looking websites ready to sell/test in literally a day from start to finish. But if I wanted to add a new feature to it that I haven't dealt with before, it may realistically add days.
 

NeoDialectic

Successfully Exited the Rat Race
FASTLANE INSIDER
Read Rat-Race Escape!
Read Fastlane!
Read Unscripted!
Speedway Pass
Feb 11, 2022
93
466
Phoenix, az
that's awesome, man! I don't dare make my AMZ seller account yet since I've heard they're very stringent and can ban you easily. Wanted to have at least the market demand confirmed before I even made the seller account. Or is this not necessary? Can I just start making the seller account now?

Anyways, let's keep at it
Start making an Amazon seller account ASAP
 
Don't like ads? Remove them while supporting the forum: Subscribe to Fastlane Insiders.

DougRMR

Contributor
Apr 19, 2019
103
83
10 email templates, 3 email services, 2 domain servers, and 3 weeks later you finally finished your 30 minute job. Oh, and it kind of looks like a 6th grader made it in Microsoft word with some word art..So someone should probably do something about that. Dont worry, we will get to it shortly....a.k.a.THREE YEARS LATER

It's all part of not just the struggles of making something new, but your growth as an entrepreneur. My first website took ages to make. Now, I've made new professional looking websites ready to sell/test in literally a day from start to finish. But if I wanted to add a new feature to it that I haven't dealt with before, it may realistically add days.
Lol so true. That "30 minute job" always finds a way to extend itself even longer. I've designed websites before but usually the copywriting was already made or everything was sort of laid out. This was from scratch with some little features set up, that each took longer than I expected.

Hopefully will have the design aspect of the website done for today or at least tomorrow.
 

Post New Topic

Please SEARCH before posting.
Please select the BEST category.

Post new topic

New Topics

Fastlane Insiders

View the forum AD FREE.
Private, unindexed content
Detailed process/execution threads
Ideas needing execution, more!

Join Fastlane Insiders.

Must Read Books...

Explore books recommended by MJ DeMarco and other members of the Fastlane entrepreneurial community.
Fastlane Bookstore
Top