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Launching a Product From Start to Finish Got a new product idea? Get the inside scoop on how to launch it into the stratosphere.

By Nichole L. Torres

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

It came to you in a vision--that brilliant idea for the next new product. As soon as you get it to market, you're sure consumers will love it. But for now, you're full of questions: How do I research my market? How will I create my prototype? Who will help me with manufacturing, distributing and marketing the product?

First things first--how quickly can you launch your product? "It's possible to do it in less than a year if you can get a company to help you," says Don Debelak, author of Bringing Your Product to Market... in Less Than a Year: Fast-Track Approaches to Cashing in on Your Great Idea and host of inventor-help website "The first thing you want to do is get a local contact who can help you." Research the industry in which you hope to launch your product-is the product for children? Pets? Athletes? Cooks? It's a safe bet that any industry you venture into has trade associations, publications, trade shows and, above all, experts from whom you can learn. Debelak suggests reading trade publications to look for listings of distributors and manufacturers who know the industry. "Contact them to see if you can get one of them to help you-one who'll like the idea and promote it," he says. "You're really using [your contact] first as an information resource."

Seeking out this kind of information certainly helped Heidi Jacquin launch her line of tWibbles--plush, collectible toys aimed at the tween market. This Freestone, California, entrepreneur had a background in product development, so she knew how to find the right people to help her launch her product. When she started tWibbles LLC in 2004, she wanted to create something cool for tweens that would combine the collectible nature of Beanie Babies and the fashion sense of a funky accessory. "[I thought,] why not have [something like] a Beanie Baby that was small and would look good as a pendant?" recalls Jacquin, 35.

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