How to Successfully Launch a Startup With a Turnkey Product or Service — Your Step-by-Step Guide
Nov 16, 2023
Launching a business with a turnkey product can be a wise decision in some situations, but it depends on various factors — including your goals, resources, market conditions and the nature of the turnkey product itself. It can be an efficient way to get your business off the ground quickly. Turnkey products are typically pre-built solutions that require minimal customization and can be readily useable.
Using a turnkey product can streamline the process of launching a business, but it's essential to carefully assess the pros and cons. Successful businesses have been built using turnkey products, but they require thoughtful planning and strategy to succeed in a competitive market.
I launched my startup using a turnkey product, which is a product I created and designed, out of a need. As one can imagine, launching a business using a product that's new to the beauty market has been exciting but also challenging. Some of those challenges have inspired me as to what direction I would like to go regarding building on my brand in the near future, while others have led to friendships. So, please don't disregard those challenges, build on them.
The first patent attorney I hired didn't believe my product was marketable — although he didn't verbally say that, his actions did. I went through a lot with this attorney before and after requesting a full refund. Had I not had that unfortunate experience with him, I would not have met the patent attorney who filed my application, nor would I have met the designer who worked on my renderings.
I practice gratitude in my day-to-day life, even in situations in which most people would find it hard to find gratitude. After introducing the attorney and designer to advise them that we would all be working on this project together, they informed me that they previously worked together on a few other projects (small world). I've since built a friendship with them and have learned so much from them both.
If you have prior experience in business management or the industry related to your turnkey product, you may feel more confident. Lack of experience can amplify feelings of uncertainty. But don't allow those feelings to cause you to delay your launch. At the beginning of my journey, I had a combination of feelings that would have probably made me halt everything I was doing had it not been for my passion for this product and where I envisioned my brand being ten years from now.
Phil Knight co-founded Blue Ribbon Sports (now known as Nike) by importing ready-made Japanese sneakers to the United States. This turnkey approach helped him establish the foundation of one of the world's most iconic sportswear brands.
Ray Kroc is famously known for turning a small hamburger restaurant owned by the McDonald brothers into the global fast-food giant, McDonald's. Kroc used their ready-made system for making burgers and franchised the concept, using a turnkey approach to expand the business.
These are only a few examples of how founders used their turnkey ideas to build their brands.
Idea generation and market research
Identify a specific problem or need in the market that your turnkey product can address.
Conduct thorough market research to validate the demand for your solution and understand your target audience. Before investing any money in developing my idea, I first did a series of surveys to find out if anyone would be willing to purchase my product, and if so, who? I did one on Survey Monkey, an in-person survey at the public library and one on Facebook. Based on the responses I received, I moved forward with the development and decided to launch.
Selecting the turnkey product
Find a turnkey product that aligns with your startup idea and the needs of your target market. This could be software, hardware or other types of solutions.
Evaluate different turnkey products based on factors like features, pricing, scalabilityand customer support.
Customization (if needed)
Depending on the turnkey product, you may need to customize it to fit your specific business requirements or branding.
Work with the product provider or a developer to make any necessary adjustments. As I mentioned earlier, I hired a designer to help me refine my design and bring it alive.
Legal and financial considerations
It's important to register your startup as a legal entity (e.g., LLC, corporation).
Secure any necessary licenses or permits for your business.
Set up a business bank account, and manage your finances effectively. One of the first two things I did after filing my patent application was register my startup as a legal entity and open a business checking account.
Business plan and strategy
Developing a business plan that outlined my startup's goals, target market, pricing strategy and marketing approach provided me with much clarity.
Branding and marketing
Creating a strong brand identity for your startup, including a logo, website and marketing materials, is a must.
Develop a marketing strategy that includes digital marketing, content marketing, social media and other channels to reach your target audience.
Sales and distribution
Determine how you will sell and distribute your turnkey product. This could involve online sales, partnerships or direct sales efforts.
Establish relationships with distributors or retailers if necessary.
Customer support and service
Set up customer support channels to assist users with any issues or questions.
Ensure that your turnkey product is reliable and meets customer expectations.
Testing and quality assurance
Thoroughly test your turnkey product to identify and fix any bugs or issues. I've been hands-on with every aspect of my startup from the beginning, including quality control, which I did a few rounds of before moving forward with production.
Ensure that it performs as expected and meets the needs of your target audience.
Plan a launch event or campaign to introduce your turnkey product to the market. This is one step I regrettably missed, but it's very necessary.
Monitor its performance closely in the initial stages, and gather user feedback for improvements. Since launching, I've had a few customers make great suggestions. I heard them loud and clear, and I plan on implementing some of their suggestions.
Launching a startup with a turnkey product can save time and resources, but it still requires careful planning and execution. Success will depend on your ability to identify a market need, choose the right turnkey product and effectively market and support your offering to your target audience.