From Idea to Invention: Product Development Steps to Follow

Among American adults, about 62 percent see the entrepreneurship path as a potentially good career. For some, that means leveraging their skills into a startup or online venture. For others, though, that drive comes out of a desire to bring a new product to market.

Of course, new product development sounds easy on paper. The actual product development process often proves more complex than many people initially believe.

If you want to bring a new product to market but aren’t sure where to start, keep reading. We’ll break down the key product development steps you should know about.


Odds are good that you already have an idea for a product if you’re thinking of striking out on your own. If not, focus your attention on underserved markets or look for a way you can solve a lingering problem in your own life.

Once you have the idea, you need to do some research. Part of the research is making sure a similar product doesn’t already exist.

Then, you must validate the idea with some market research. There’s no point in making a product that won’t generate interest.


The planning phase consists mostly of pinning down your idea on paper. If you’re thinking of a physical product, you need sketches, diagrams, and ideas for what materials you’ll use for it. Some people bring in a technical expert, such as engineer, for this element. 

While you can trial and error it, technical assistance can make answering this part of the how to develop a product question easier.


Once you settle on a design and materials, you’ll need a prototype. You can build the prototype yourself and many do.

You can also look at manufacturing companies for assistance with this. Many manufactures firms will build a prototype to your specifications for a fee. This is also a good way for you to trial run a manufacturer for later services.


You must decide on your marketing approach at this point. Will you sell it and fulfill orders yourself? Will you try to sell it through retail chains?

This can mean pitching a product either directly to customers online or pitching it to corporations.

Production and Sales

Once you pin down where you’ll sell it, you’ll need a production partner for the product. Make sure that you pick a partner that has a reliable supply chain. Otherwise, you can find your product dropped or with a lot of unhappy customers waiting.

Product Development Steps

The product development steps listed above give you a high-level picture of what you can expect with new product development. Make sure you leave yourself plenty of time for each step. Rushing through the product development stages can create far more problems than it solves.

When in doubt, seek out advice from knowledgeable experts. Even if you only discuss your product in general terms, experts can help you sort out challenges.

Looking for more entrepreneurship advice? Check out some of the Startup posts over in our Business section.