Multi-tasking women are ideally suited to starting a business. Here are eight tips for all those budding entrepreneurs out there.
By Tamara Monosoff (Author, The Mom Inventors Handbook: How to Turn Your Great Idea into the Next Big Thing, 2nd edition)
When I was nine years old, I lived a few blocks from the ocean. At the end of each day, I noticed that people were hot, thirsty and in need of a late afternoon sugar boost. I started selling lemonade and chocolate brownies (thanks to mom for frantically baking them in our kitchen non-stop and dad dashing off to the store multiple times for more supplies) on the street corner near my house.
My business was booming until a police officer stopped by and said “Hey, little girl, how much money have you made so far?” With unrestrained enthusiasm, I exclaimed “$300!” and from that moment forward, I was banned from the street corner because I was making too much money and therefore required a business license.
Although that was an eye-opening experience, even a brush with the law couldn’t remove the entrepreneurial seed that had been planted. I’ve found that the best way to continually reinvent my life’s journey both personally and professionally is through the freedom that entrepreneurship permits.
What many multi-tasking women don’t realize is that they already possess the necessary skills to become successful entrepreneurs. These essential skills are practiced and strengthened on a daily basis such as; coming up with creative solutions to everyday problems, hard work, time management, stamina, all while living within a budget. In fact, these life skills are directly transferrable to launching and running a successful business.
For the past ten years, I have seen thousands of women transform that initial idea into creative, money-generating new products. And, with the resurgent economy and awesome new resources available for developing, manufacturing, funding, video marketing, selling and distributing products, the opportunity for inventive product entrepreneurs has never been better.
Here are eight tips to get you started on the right path:
Treat Your Product Idea as a Business from the Start
There is no true short-cut. With an open mind, analyze and understand the design and production costs, market size, selling price, profit potential, and competition BEFORE you spend money bringing your product to market.
To Patent or NOT to Patent?
A patent can be a useful tool but it is not a requirement and sometimes a waste of precious resources. Consider taking advantage of a Provisional Patent Application (PPA) first. It is a placeholder that will buy you 12 months of time before you have to officially file a utility patent.
Make it Simple
Many new product ideas include flashy features from electronics to excessive bells and whistles that drive up production costs and the retail price. Creating high-quality products with fewer features–but priced right — can mean more sales and money in your pocket.
Raise Smart Money
Use crowd-funding, microloans, credit lines, and new online options that fit your business. Check out:http://us.accion.org,www.kabbage.com,www.somolend.com,www.kiva.org,www.opportunityfund.org/loans to name just a few! There has never been a better time to fund your business.
Bring Your Product to Life with a Prototype
Start with something simple that will be refined over time. It does not need to be expensive or fancy. The purpose of a prototype is to figure out how to make your idea work and to get essential market feedback about the design and use of the product.
Business Planning will Improve Your Chances of Success
Most people don’t plan BUT it will help you get to market faster. You will gain clarity, focus and confidence. A business plan will help you refine your thinking and answer important questions like:
- What am I building?
- Who am I in service of?
- What is my promise to my customers/clients and to myself?
- What are my objectives, strategies and action steps to achieve this?
Be Cautious of “Opportunities”
Be careful to scrutinize companies that offer to market or license your product with sweet deals that sound too good to be true. Use the same good practices you would use to select a contractor, plumber, or new nanny. Trust yourself!
Celebrate Your Successes… Large and Small
Recognize setbacks for what they are an unavoidable — and sometimes the most valuable — part of the journey. This is an opportunity to build a business and life that you LOVE.
There are many steps along this journey but with the abundance of new resources available you can take your idea and run. As Julie Martin-Allen, Senior Director of Showcase Events for Sam’s Club said in the foreword of my new book, “My final advice to those readers who aspire to see their products on the shelves of the nation’s top retailers; be courageous and go for it!”
For more resources on funding, manufacturing, publicity and managing your business check out The Mom Inventors Handbook: How to Turn Your Great Idea into the Next Big Thing (second edition).