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COB 300 - Integrative Business

This guide helps students research their business plan proposals. Be advised this is NOT a comprehensive checklist for all topics that should be researched.

Peer Research Adviser

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Sara Brynn McAuley

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Elizabeth Price

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Valerie Linsinbigler

Identify manufacturing processes

First, try searching for a description of a product similar to yours in the resources below. Take notes on machines, materials or processes that are identified. Use these as search terms later. 

Can't find your exact product? Think more flexibly!

Is there an existing item that has similar characteristics? Perhaps you're making notebook paper that can be wiped and reused. The process for manufacturing whiteboards might provide information your group can use.

Recommended resources (manufacturing)

JMU databases
Print and e-books

Manufacturing books

Manufacturing Process Selection Handbook

Provides manufacturing process information maps (PRIMAs) provide detailed information on the characteristics and capabilities of 65 processes in a standard format. Offers detailed methods for estimating costs, both at the component and assembly level.

Making It: Manufacturing techniques for product design

Informative and incredibly easy to use, this bestselling book discusses more than a hundred production methods in detail.

Sustainable Materials, Processes and Production

Covers the environmental impact of materials, manufacturing processes, and product life cycles, and is also a guide on how to select and use them in an intelligent way.

Materials Processing Handbook


An examination of various materials processes, ranging from the nanoscale to metalworking and the processing of plastics, glass, and ceramics.

The Industrial Design Reference and Specification Book

Filled with information that is essential to successful product design, including information on measurement conversions, setting up files for prototyping and production runs, and manufacturing and packaging options.

Materials for Design

Provides much-needed information on the raw materials, and the 'low-down' on what these materials can be used for. Also contains emerging materials such as smart materials and self-healing plastics.

Environmentally Conscious Manufacturing


Advice, methods, and data on how to make manufacturing more environmentally friendly. Covers design, system improvement, pollution prevention, and compliance with environmental regulations.

Manufacturing and Design

Distinguishes between what is possible in principle for a certain process (as determined by physical law); what is possible in practice (the production method as determined by industrial state-of-the-art); and what is possible for a certain supplier (as determined by its production equipment).

Materials and Design: The art and science of material selection in product design

An introduction to the role of materials in manufacturing and design, with the help of familiar language and concepts.

Apparel Manufacturing Technology

Provides a broad conceptual and theoretical perspective of apparel manufacturing process starting from raw material selection to packaging and dispatch of goods.

The Physics of Modern Devices

Describes the basic physics behind a large number of devices encountered in everyday life, from the air conditioner to Blu-ray discs. 

How Everyday Products Are Made

Entries describe in vivid detail the whys and hows of 50 products that figure prominently in the everyday lives of teens, providing step-by-step descriptions of the manufacturing process.

Materials Selection in Mechanical Design

Describes the procedures for material selection in mechanical design in order to ensure that the most suitable materials for a given application.

Find suppliers for machinery & raw materials

Once you have a list of potential processes, materials and machinery, you can start to search for suppliers. 

A critical point to remember: If you find a supplier outside of North America, you will face additional costs to import them into the country. This will make it more difficult to calculate your production expenses. 

The suppliers site is divided between search interfaces for North American suppliers and global suppliers (mostly Asia).


Recommended resources (American suppliers)

Recommended resources (suppliers in Mexico & Canada)

Potential resources (Global suppliers)

Estimate throughput rate

This is one place where you might optimize your time with the librarian to get recommendations more specific to your product. Be open to using books as sources of this information or leveraging contacts within existing companies to get benchmarks.

Pay attention to information you already have:

  • Product specifications for your machinery in the catalog, instructional manual, or a spec sheet (often a PDF). Look for output per hour, such as gallons per hour or pieces per hour. Could be written as racks/hour or be measured in minutes (bottles per minute)
  • Search in Google to find what plants claim they can do (sample search: bottles per hour bottling machine soda)

In the end, you will have to make an estimate based on the best available information. There isn't a perfect answer. 

Recommended resources

Price your product

The markup rate - whether wholesale to retail, retail to consumer - varies by industry. There isn't one definitive source that provides this answer. Some strategies for finding this information:

  • Examine prices of competitor products via Google, and look at consumer behavior reports to see how your features compare and how they want to spend their money.
  • Look at the profit margin for the retail chain that is selling the items.
  • Use Google strategically, and consider sites such as the Houston Chronicle, Shopify or Entrepreneur. Make sure to check the dates and use only current information.

Recommended resources


Find quality management resources

JMU has several books on quality management in businesses. Besides the books below, considering using JMU's Library Search tool for phrases like: standards, "lean manufacturing," "Six Sigma," or "total quality management."

Recommended resources 

Quality control books

Design for Six Sigma

Explains how DFSS methodology is used to design robust products, processes, or services.

Lean Six Sigma for Small and Medium Sized Enterprises

Provides a roadmap for the successful implementation and deployment of LSS in SMEs.

ISO 9001:2015 for Small Businesses

Helps you understand how to achieve ISO compliance in a cost effective way.

ISO 9001: A complete guide to quality management systems

Explains all the new issues and topics required by the ISO 9001:2015 Standard.

Distribute your product

To distribute your product, you'll need to get the materials to your warehouse for manufacturing and then ship finished products. 

Recommended resources (shipping INTO U.S.)

Recommended resources (shipping WITHIN U.S.)

This could be the rates you'll pay to have a supplier ship raw materials to you, or the price you'll pay to ship the final product to customers. 

Recommended resources (calculating tariffs)

These resources explain and help you figure out tariff or duty rates.