R&D researcher running a test in a lab

Keep the innovation going even while you’re growing

The term R&D gets thrown around a lot, and as an entrepreneur who founded a startup, you may have been doing your own research and development for quite some time now. That may even be where your heart lies, but now you have a company to run. 

It’s incredibly difficult to focus on brand management and scaling your business while maintaining a research and development practice for new products, so it’s common for R&D to fall by the wayside in the early days of a startup. 

 

Why R&D is so important

Research and development can be expensive. You must funnel lots of money into staff, facilities, and materials for what feels like a grand experiment that may never pay off. It’s especially disheartening when you’ve committed time and resources to R&D only to experience setbacks on your new product ideas. 

Ultimately, though, the R&D process is crucial for a few reasons:

  • You love it. When you manage to create something innovative, functional, and marketable, it all feels worth it. It will take time, hard work, and maybe a few tears, but when you finally accomplish it and land on a viable new product, it will open doors and create growth opportunities. Remember that feeling, and hold onto it.
  • It keeps you relevant. On the one hand, when you produce something shiny and new, customers are sure to notice. You’ll have more growth opportunities in net worth and stock share value. The market will take notice. On the other hand, if you see a market trend your company could participate in, R&D makes it possible for you to come up with a product that fits. With a dedicated team at your disposal, you have the flexibility and power to pivot quickly and tweak your products to fit current branding and social movements so that your name doesn’t get left in the dust by the latest fad.
  • Growth = survival. Quite simply, the more products you offer, the more products you can sell. Once you have established one successful product line, you’re likely to be able to market a new one now that customers know who you are and trust your brand. R&D gives you the potential to continue growing for as long as they are researching and developing.
  • It teaches you and your company not to fear frustration. Inventor James Dyson is known to say that he doesn’t “mind failure,” ever since he went through 5,126 failed vacuum prototypes until he stumbled upon the famous 5,127th and became a household name. If he had given up and stopped researching, stopped developing new and better models for what turned out to be a great idea, the world of home appliances simply wouldn’t be the same. In the consistent practice of R&D, your leadership team learns to distinguish between the hard work of innovation and actual defeat, which will serve you well outside of product development too. Setbacks in marketing, legal, distribution and other areas of your business don’t have to be met with panic. You can view them as failed prototypes that can be tweaked for a better chance of success next time.

Focus your R&D strategy on what’s important

Even if you’ve already implemented an R&D plan, consider how you can scale it to continue serving you and your customers. There are a number of ways to be more astute in the R&D arena, but ultimately it boils down to a few key focus points.

  • Goals. Without a strategy, your research team has no direction. Get very clear on how R&D fits into the company’s mission and what you need the department to accomplish. A misguided or aimless R&D endeavor is worse than not having one at all. Make sure that your intentions are connected to the consumers you hope to serve and that you hold your company accountable for the true purpose of your products.
  • Talent. R&D is only as effective as the people on the team. Focus your funding on recruiting the best of the best and supporting that staff in every way you can. Even a very small team of driven, creative, intelligent innovators can accomplish big things for your brand. Give them what they need in terms of budget, testing facilities, and administrative support so that the talent can truly focus on what they were hired to do—innovate.
  • Practice. Consistency is key. Develop processes and routines for checking in with your R&D department to assess goals, progress, setbacks, or any changes that need to be made to improve performance or increase results. As with any practice, this will take time, so be patient. It may be a while before you feel like R&D is getting anywhere, but that doesn’t mean your strategy isn’t working. Trust the team that you carefully cultivated to achieve the goals you asked them to pursue. 

When it comes to R&D partners, choose PGV.

Don’t forget to come up for air and ask for help every once in a while. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel when designing a successful R&D strategy. Consider third-party R&D firms or partnering with organizations that already know how to do this. At PGV, we have serious research and development chops, and we’re ready to share them with you. If you join forces with us to elevate your startup’s success, here’s what you’ll be getting:

  • 180+ years of innovation history in branding, business management, and understanding of how to work with consumers
  • An R&D workforce that’s over 7,000 strong
  • Access to 1,000+ Ph.D.s in 120 scientific disciplines
  • 13 global research sites

We also currently maintain 20,000+ product patents and 16,400+ design patents worldwide and have invested $1.8 billion in R&D in 2019. Since P&G’s founding, we’ve combined breakthrough science and technologies with deep consumer understanding to deliver connected innovations and human-centric experiences that transform people’s lives, industry, and society—now and for generations to come. 

Teaming up with us gives you the ultimate R&D experience, so if you think your product or brand could use that kind of support, consider PGV. To learn more about how P&G’s startup studio can help make your ideas into reality, visit www.pgventuresstudio.com.