Have you ever been struggling with some child oriented task-changing a diaper in the stroller because there was no place to put your child down, or trying to find a certain toy that you are sure must exist-and then thought, “Why don’t I create (something that will help!)?”
I love to come up with new ideas. I believe I got this from my mom, who has declared numerous times, “I first thought of snack popcorn bags. Do you remember that?” (I don’t, but of course I believe her!)
According to The Center for Women’s Business Research, more than six million mothers are starting companies that focus on children-oriented products, and we are raking in some money doing so.
What does it take to create a product and get it out onto the shelves? A lot of hard work, obviously; a stash of funds, most of the time; and persistence.
This article in BrandentonHerald.com highlights quite a few moms who had great ideas that they saw through-and who are now smiling to the bank.
Yet the step to taking a product idea and making it happen can be a scary one. What happens when one sinks all of the family’s savings into this product and the product does not fly?
I still recall one client that I had whose product I really liked. While developing her website, she confessed that she and her husband had taken all of their savings, money that had been saved for their child’s college fund, and sunk it into the business. She did what she felt she could afford to do in terms of marketing. Unfortunately, the business is now gone, along with that large chunk of savings.
A second client of mine had a similar problem. She created beautiful hand crafted jewelry for children. She watched as similar pieces from similar companies sold off the shelf at prices higher than hers, and yet this year she pulled her site off, too, and hung up the bracelets, so to speak.
What makes one business like this fly and another similar business fail?
Sometimes it is difficult to determine. I do know that marketing your product is an important aspect of developing the company. I’ve worked with some people who feel they can throw up a site on the web and the people will come. Websites should be used as a method for getting your name out, but it is not the only way.
If you are only an online company, consider sending out press releases to major newspapers across the country, or to local publications if your business is local. Save some money to attend trade shows. Network through organizations such as NAWBO. Sell locally at farmer’s markets, fairs, and conventions. Write a blog. Just get that name out there!
Reserve some funds for keeping your business afloat if something bad should happen, or if business flails in the beginning. Remember, unforseen things creep up when you least expect it. Staples, scissors and tape are not expensive when purchased one at a time, but if you are running a company and need a large quantity of them, that $2 bill will quickly add up to over $200. Budget for this.
Expect to spend a lot of time on your product and business, especially in the beginning. I believe that sometimes people have an unrealistic expectation about how much time is really involved in running a company. While you may want to work from home in order to spend more time with family, oftentimes that first year of business is spent working late and getting up early. You must commit a lot of time to your business at first. If you don’t, it is fair to say that sales may slump.
Make sure your spouse is on board. I have heard horror stories of people who go into business without the support of their spouse. It is important for your marriage and your business that everyone in the family be involved in some way, and supportive in all ways. You’ll be working a lot. You’ll be tired and, unfortunately, sometimes cranky. You want to know that the people you love the most will be there for you when you need to just talk, or fall into bed for an entire day and rest.
Have a great idea? Chasing that mom-developing-a-company dream? I would love to hear about the business as well as the challenges you are facing!