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Copyright 2006
Cornell University.
All rights reserved.


Introduction and Objectives

Even before you build your first prototype, you should be thinking about the life cycle of your product and business.

Planning for the decline of a product in the marketplace is just as important as its introduction and growth. A product's life cycle stages and sales curves typically follow the path shown below.

Product Life Cycle Stages

The business life cycle curve looks similar. It has a development stage where little profit is made. Then the growth and maturity stages where both sales and profit increase. Finally, the business may decline.

Some businesses progress through these stages rapidly and others do so slowly, depending on the type of company and the entrepreneur's goals. For example, the business may be

  • a hobby providing a supplementary income
  • the entrepreneur's sole income for life or
  • a short-term, high income venture intended to be built and sold rapidly.

Each affects the length and shape of this curve differently.

New designs must be generated as fashion trends change

This module will explore product as well as business life cycles. It will ask specific questions that you should be able to answer as you develop new products, product lines, and a distinctive brand.

You will compare several potential markets in which you can position your product. You will also develop your expectations for the life cycle you want your business to follow. You will consider whether to grow the business through your lifetime and pass it on to your heirs or plan a fast growth and early exit strategy. You will realize that thinking about the maturity and decline of a business venture is as important as developing its first product.

At the end of this lesson, you will be able to

  1. Describe the six stages of the product life cycle and how each stage affects your business.
  2. Describe your product idea in terms of its product type category, its item characteristics, its potential development as a line, and possible brand names.
  3. List three advantages of line extensions and branding.
  4. Identify three potential industries in which your product may be positioned and evaluate the advantages and disadvantages of each.
  5. Analyze three business life cycle options and which best fit your goals.




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