Does the thought of running a PCB design firm appeal to you? Maybe it’s time that you consider the steps involved in launching a company. PCBs are an integral part of IT, gaming, biotechnology, consumer and electronics, telecom, and strategic electronics industries, so there are many opportunities in the market for new companies.
Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need to have a large amount of capital to get this business started. You can begin on a smaller scale and work your way up from there. Below, we’ll highlight the measures you’ll need to take to start your own PCB design and assembly business.
Do your Research on PCB Design and Assembly
A PCB designer must have sound knowledge of how electronic components like capacitors, transistors, and resistors work. Knowing every little detail about the electronic circuit will help you achieve your business goals better. If you have worked in the PCB industry, you will be at an advantage. If you are new to this field, learning all the jargon is the first step. Take all the time and go through all free / paid resources on the internet to collect information. As you get smart about the fundamentals of PCB design , a business idea may start shaping up, backed by factual information.
Find a Niche
Having a niche in the market makes it easy to secure leads. Moreover, it becomes easier for you to identify the verticals you’ll be targeting. So the first step is to think of areas you are most passionate about. Is it smartphones? Radios? Do you want to supply in the day-to-day market of consumer essentials? Or do you want to step into the world of innovation and help bring new devices to the market?
Keep in mind that you may not know your niche from the moment you start thinking of running a business. It is completely fine not to have a clear idea of your business direction at this stage. However, you will be better prepared to specialize when you have done all your research, especially in your market. Market research will unveil some interesting and underserved niches you may want to target.
Write a Business Plan
You cannot start a business in any field without a plan. Enough knowledge of PCB design will enable you to write a clear and concise business plan. A plan helps you iron out any creases and focus on the most important task at hand. If you have not written a business plan before, you can look at free templates online or ask a mentor.
In the PCB design industry, businesses often focus on the core part – designing a PCB. But now, there are many businesses that provide consultations, training, and data management options to the clients. The business plan will help you chart out the realistic services you can offer and how to stand out. Based on your location, resources, and target demographic, you can finalize things to sell. It is not necessary to offer a couple of services right from the start. You can start with one solid service and move on to more as you learn and grow.
Create a Marketing Plan
The business plan sets your work in order, a marketing plan helps you sell your work. Finding a niche is the first step towards writing a marketing plan. The more you know about your product or service, the easier it will be to sell it to someone who needs it. Marketing contains a wide range of tips and tactics, all of which might not be relevant to your startup from the get-go. So many people choose social media marketing from the start and combine it with on-ground activations and advertisements. The people to target are also spread out differently. For example, entrepreneurs and innovators can be targeted better through Facebook ads, while manufacturers are easier to target on LinkedIn. The rule of thumb is to market at a place where most of your customers will be present. A key component of marketing plans is defining the value proposition of your business.
Invest in the Right Software
Any PCB business is incomplete without the right software. Many companies will try to sell you their software, so do not look at only the price. Take a good look at the product you want to make and then relate it to the software’s features. A free trial is a good point to start as it takes you through the steps of PCB design. In the hardware vs. software dilemma, one must know if it is better to add a few lines of code to your software or buy hardware components. Both have their unique set of advantages and disadvantages for every business model.
Hire the Right Designers
A big tip to PCB startup owners is to hire the right talent, and most importantly, the right designers. Designers in the PCB industry have various levels of skills and talents. You need staff members that are fully skilled to deal with the pressure of a startup. It might be hard to recruit expert-level designers when you are new. However, inexperienced designers can cost you a lot of money with petty mistakes.
Create a Prototype
Another big step towards launching your business is to create a prototype. This is especially important for startup owners looking for funding from investors. A prototype is a model, something physically present, to help you prove your mettle. Along with the business plan, most investors will want to see the caliber of your creations. By creating a prototype, you will also gain the experience of going through each step of PCB design and testing your process. Learning a process is not the same as going through it, so you have the chance to weed out any problems and focus on delivering a good quality PCB.
Do Rigorous Testing
There is no success in the PCB business without rigorous testing. Testing and failing are part and parcel of a PCB design, so accept this truth with an open mind. Pay attention to each step, the soldering, the design, the components, etc. Development boards are a safe and economical place to start. Many people start with Raspberry Pi because it is very simple for learners.
If you or your team are not well-versed in the design process, now is the time to think of outsourcing or hiring an in-house resource.
Starting a new business, especially a PCB business, can be very challenging, and you don’t want to bleed a lot of capital on costly mistakes. Ask yourself some critical questions before tackling any projects: Do you need support from an electronic prototyping company to keep up with client demands? Should you market your business with the help of a b2b marketing agency? Should you work with an in-house team or start by outsourcing to keep your labor costs down? Answering crucial questions will help you set your priorities and start off on sound financial footing.