If you ever feel like giving up on getting distribution for your product–think about eleven year old Ryan Landis from Plano, Texas. As part of a Invention Convention at his school, Ryan developed HangEase, a new type of hanger that solves the problem of hangers breaking when kids pull their clothes off of them. That was two years ago. Now, two years later, with perspiration to back up the inspiration Ryan’s product is being carried in a few hundred WalMart stores and Ryan and his dad were featured on the Weekend Today Show. That’s a lot of achievement for someone who is still five years away from being able to get a driver’s license. You can get a little of his story here including a great photo of Ryan standing in front of a display of his products.
There are two lessons that I take away from this story. First, the secret of most great inventions is solving someone’s problem–large or small. The starting point and heart of every business plan should be a clear statement of who the target customer is and what problem you are going to solve for them. If the problem is clear and the solution is compelling, you are well on your way to having a good business. Second, is the value of persistence. This overnight success took two years. It’s hard to be an entrepreneur if you aren’t a persistent optimist.
So even when everyone else is saying “no” or “not” or “never”, listen to the voice in the back of your head that’s saying “yes” and “I can do that”. It worked for Ryan Landis.