Not everyone is lucky enough to have an engineer in their life. If you do, sometimes those engineers are just the wrong type of engineer or sometimes your engineer friend is too busy to help you with your kooky pet-project. The same goes for all the marketers, graphic designers, etc that you may know. Sometimes you don't want to overload your friends and families with requests and help can be hard to find... so what do you do?
With my background of being a product manager, I had a good understanding of the tasks and milestones for developing a new product. Somethings I could definitely do myself and for other tasks, I knew that I would need some help. For this project, I ended up outsourcing the advanced engineering work (3D part design and plastic-injection mold design), logo creation, packaging design, video graphics, and some social marketing support. Just looking at that list, it seems like there really isn't much left to do... right? Right.
Before you start recruiting for help, you should have your ducks in a row and have a preliminary timeline and budget. Don't worry about this being super accurate at this point, it's going to change as you learn more and things progress - but you need to start somewhere and be able to tell someone a target completion date (asap doesn't fly here) and how much you are willing to spend.
At this point, I've spent about 30% more than when I first estimated (which is pretty good for me, I'm a little bit of a spender ;) and as this project has progressed and I've learned a bit more, my budget estimation is getting a lot more accurate. But without an initial budget to follow, it's hard to make decisions about costly re-work, extra marketing support, etc.
After you've got your budget and timeline, the next most important tool for making that perfect product is a great project brief. You want to make sure that you will be setting up your hired help for the most efficient and best outcome possible. I spent soooo many hours searching for images on google, browsing design websites and watching stupid info-graphics all so I could clearly define and show what I wanted. There definitely is a specific vocabulary when communicating with designers or engineers, be sure to look into it before you casually start throwing descriptive words or technical sounding terms around. Here's a reference for graphic design and one for mechanical engineering.
How I was able to get help - beyond that of friends and family - was using an online freelancer finder. There are quite a few out there, but the one that I chose to use was Upwork*. I was able to post a job description and receive work offers from freelancers from all over the world. It was easy to use and seemed very safe & secure. It's free to browse and post a job offer but there is a small fee once you hire someone (I think just a couple dollars). I found a great graphic designer from Armenia that made my lovely logo (with a few alterations) in a week for less than $100. I used this service for packaging design and video graphics as well; engineering and all other kinds of services are also available. Being able to get these tasks done for a reasonable budget really inspired and helped me to try and make this product be the best it could be.
[Side note] Having experienced how these freelance/job websites work, it is inspiring as an option for a little income later down the road. For those who are working hard/saving hard for early financial independence, this could be a nice retirement gig. Being able to work when you want, for however long you want, and only on the projects that you're interested in sounds pretty amazing, right?
Ok, back on topic...
The last bit of work to do is a little scary and intimidating but I can't stress enough how important it is to do! It's SUPER important to get outside feedback on major decisions - like the look & design of the product, the name of your company, and who is your target demographic - who's buying it. It's a great reality check and can help you focus and get back on track if you feel lost or when things get tough. Being a company of one, makes it challenging to collaborate and get quick feedback. Find yourself a mentor and a group of trusted peers that will give you honest feedback. Be open to suggestions and take all feedback as good intentions... but in the end, you're the boss and you get to choose what's right.
*note, I am not getting paid for mentioning them. It is my own opinion :)