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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.

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

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 

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.