There are many areas of life where having a mentor, someone wiser and more experienced than you to guide you through your decisions, can be immeasurably valuable. Andthe field of product development is no different.

After all, how better to proceed than to follow in the footsteps of someone who’s already experienced success doing what you’re attempting to do? It’s hard to imagine a better person to turn to to help you find that avenue to a product idea that takes the marketplace by storm.

If an individual mentor isn’t available, or you don’t know where to find one, you can also consider working with a product development firm. While there obviously won’t be the same kind of relationship between you and the consultants you’re working with as there would be between you and a mentor, an experienced, successful firm can offer many of the same benefits.

Here are just a few of the ways that mentors and product development firms can help a budding inventor.

Identifying design problems early on

It’s not always the case that the product idea you begin with is the one that you end up taking to market.

More experienced product developers can help you see the flaws and advantages of your design earlier than you might be able to. That means 2 things:

  • You’ll have a longer runway for fixing the flaws
  • You’ll waste less money on development, because you’ll have a better idea of what will work and what won’t prior to prototyping

These are significant benefits.

Offering an objective perspective

Getting an objective perspective is good practice in any creative endeavor, including product development.

That’s what a mentor or product development firm can provide, along with one other key service: constructive criticism.

It can surprisingly difficult to find people among friends and family who will give you honest, unbiased feedback, especially if what they want to say is a negative, rather than a positive.

Mentors and other experienced product designers, however, will give you that necessary feedback – and hopefully in a manner that is both honest and kind.

You might not always like what they have to say, and you might end up deciding to do what you were originally going to do anyway. However, having that voice of experience is still important as you make your way along your product design and development journey.

Supplying moral support

There are going to be many sleepless nights and tough decisions that you will have to make as an inventor. You’ll have to weigh the cost versus benefits of swapping out a material in your supply chain. You may have to decide between starting a business and licensing your product. A mentor can help see you through the process of making these choices. They can also often see and point out the progress you’ve made, even when you can’t.

When you can consistently communicate with someone who wants your success but isn’t as close to your efforts as you are, that’s a valuable viewpoint to seek out.

The chance to learn from their experience

This is perhaps the most obvious benefit of working with a mentor or product development firm.

What steps did they take in similar situations? What mistakes did they make? People who’ve navigated the process of taking a product to market have a wealth of knowledge that can help you avoid as many pitfalls as possible, and launch your product on time, and within budget.

For more, read our e-book “Turn a Great Idea Into a Thriving Business.