Contract Manufacturing for Small Businesses

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If your big idea is a physical product or gadget, you may need to enlist the services of a contract manufacturer to help bring your product to market.

Online resources like ThomasNet and GlobalSources could help you find contract manufacturers to fit your needs. But it’s best to tap your network or trade groups to find the names of contract manufacturers that others in your industry have worked with successfully. It’s tempting to go with the lowest price, but check references to make sure the manufacturer can deliver.

Another consideration is location. Asia certainly has a reputation for quality, volume and price, but a domestic manufacturer could save you shipping costs and allow you to visit the manufacturer more often.

Perhaps the biggest concern with any kind of outsourcing work is intellectual property theft, so make sure any manufacturer you work with has strict controls on intellectual property. Your contract will need to spell out everything, from IP protection to pricing, volume and delivery, so this is an area where you don’t want to skimp on legal help.

The process isn’t easy, but it could be a lot easier than starting your own factory.

Adapted from 3 Small Business Manufacturing Tips at Small Business Computing.