By William Sullivan

For a small business with a new product, the process of attaining commercial viability can be long, discouraging–and expensive. It need not be. Small businesses have many options available to them, from the choice of where to seek funding to qualified advisors, but should really focus on finding a solid manufacturing partner to make their product come to life.

A solid manufacturing partner with a track record of working with small and startup companies, as well as with individual entrepreneurs, can help make that journey from concept to marketplace a reality, with fewer stumbling blocks along the way.

It’s important to develop a relationship with a manufacturing company that believes in conceptual collaboration. Working together, designers, engineers and visionaries can use that manufacturer’s expertise and industry contacts. From the very first steps, they can collaborate to ensure that all phases of product design, development and manufacturing — even marketing in some cases — work together.

Teaming with a company that has those capabilities, as well as years of technical know-how, a dedicated staff who will work with you to find the right answers to the challenges along the way—and with a global presence—can make the trip from idea to commercial product as efficient and cost-effective as possible.

The strategy behind conceptual collaboration is simple. The principle of Occam’s Razor states that you shouldn’t make more assumptions than the minimum necessary to achieve the correct results. Well, in conceptual collaboration, you shouldn’t make more product design adjustments during the manufacturing process than are necessary.

To do so, find a manufacturing outlet that  is not only willing to work with you or your designing/engineering team, but also has the experience, expertise and industry connections to guide you every step of the way. At each stage of your product’s development, you need a team of experienced technicians to make sure that each phase of the process is on track and in sync with all the other phases. Teams should work in parallel from the start of the project to test and to make sure every detail in every phase is the correct one before moving on to the next.

William Sullivan is Vice President, Performance Products for Spencer, Massachusetts-based FLEXcon Inc. His expertise is in assisting start-up companies and enterprises with bringing their concepts and ideas to commercial reality. FLEXcon is an innovator in adhesive coating, laminating and finishing of durable materials used in graphics applications, electronics and new products. For more information, visit or call 1-508-885-8200. Follow us on Twitter @FLEXcon.