By Jason Vander Griendt

December 16, 2019 at 7:05 am

Small business owners and entrepreneurs often consider adding manufacturing to their business models. Unfortunately, many give up on the idea, assuming it will be too costly to take on. Manufacturing can be incorporated into an established business or could be the sole source of income.

Like most industries, manufacturing offers a wide scale of business opportunities from making widgets by hand in your garage to companies with global headquarters and offices in every major city. For the purpose of this article, we will zoom in on manufacturing products on a small scale for market in a shop or e-commerce store.

Finding a Niche

Narrowing down the possibilities is the first step in successfully adding manufacturing to your small business plan. Having a concise product list can help keep costs under control, makes marketing easier, and prevents missing deadlines or delivery dates.

Finding a focused identity for your small business can be challenging. Do some research in your area, whether you intend to sell locally or online, and find out what others are doing. It is vital to your success to price products competitively and avoid oversaturated sectors.

Learn more: What types of manufacturing industries are there?

Here is a list of some cost effective ideas for small businesses and startups that incorporate some form of manufacturing:

3D Printing

3D printing goes far beyond making little selfie dolls or other plastic toys. The market is ripe for someone capable of making parts that have become obsolete.

Collectors are constantly searching for replacement parts and are having an increasingly hard time locating them. 3D printers have caught on and are stocking parts for machines, cars, and other collectibles.

The beauty of adding 3D printing to your manufacturing repertoire is there are companies out there that act as mentors, advisors, and consultants to help you along the way. If you are unsure where to start with design, prototyping, or the printing process, there are people who can assist. All it takes is reaching out online and you could be well on your way to manufacturing success.

Organic Skincare Goods

Producing high-quality, organic creams has become popular amongst the farmer’s market crowd. You can certainly take this a step further and sell online or at a local store.

Skincare products derived from plant-based materials have become highly sought after, yet the manufacturing market has yet to be completely tapped. There are some government regulations regarding certain claims, but this is a great sector for any budding entrepreneur to explore.

Meal Kits

People seemingly have less and less time to accomplish all their tasks in a day. This is leading to a desperate search for ways to eat well, healthy, and fresh without sacrificing too much time.

There are levels to manufacturing meal kits, even on a small scale. You could prepare a kit that features pre-measured spices, and includes a recipe and shopping list for the fresh foods required. Higher level meal kit manufacturing could include full scale meals with all the necessary ingredients included.


Some creative entrepreneurs have carved a niche out of putting together furniture from a certain Swedish box store. This is not the kind of assembly we are suggesting here.

Consider a business dedicated to custom jobs like building high-performance computers or fashioning specialty storage containers. Fulfilling custom orders is a great way to introduce yourself to the manufacturing world at a sustainable pace.

Preparation is Key

You cannot just wake up one day and decide to add manufacturing to your current or future business. You must plan ahead by researching the market, determining if the costs versus returns are reasonable, and develop a workflow that allows you to manufacture and deliver on time.

Finding ways to make the process simpler for yourself and your staff, like enlisting the services of a 3D printing design specialist, will allow you to spend more time on marketing and social media advertising. It is not enough to simply manufacture. You must sell the ideas and products, as well.

When you think of the word manufacturing, you may see a huge factory with hundreds of employees. As we have seen, it is far more within the grasp of a small business owner or entrepreneur. Don’t be afraid to think outside the box – adding manufacturing does not have to mean breaking the bank!

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Jason Vander Griendt

Jason Vander Griendt is a Mechanical Engineering Technician with years of experience working at major companies such as SNC Lavalin Inc, Hatch Ltd. Siemens and Gerdau Ameristeel. He is the CEO of JCAD – Inc., a company he started in 2006 after seeing a gap in the market for businesses who could assist clients through the entire product design and manufacturing process.

Jason has been featured in Forbes, has had his businesses analyzed and discussed in multiple start-up books, was a previous winner of the Notable8 Digital Innovator of the year award, and is a regular guest on business panels and podcasts. Email Jason at or follow him on LinkedIn.

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