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How a mother of four started her own business

Okay, so you have your idea…now what?  THAT is the questions folks!  I contacted a company called Harshaw Research.  There they filed my patents and made my first prototypes.  Easy enough…just get ready for your pocketbook to get a lot lighter!  Around $15,000 was spent with them.  Then off to a tradeshow (which I highly recommend by the way) to see what the public really thinks about your idea.  Once again get ready for your pocketbook to get lighter.  Little show around $4,000, big show $17,000+.

Okay…so now you do not have as much money, you have filed your patents, and you have taken your prototypes to a tradeshow and learned that the public LOVES your idea.  What now?  Well, this is the tricky part.  Manufacturing can be a lot like building a house.  Ever hear the phrase, “we will have it done in two weeks?  Or Yeah, I can do that”  And it turns out that what the person really meant to say is it will take 3 months not two weeks or no, I really cannot do that?  Welcome to manufacturing!  But while there are good home builders and not-so-good homebuilders the same is true for manufacturers.  So how can you make sure you have a good one?  Here are a couple of ideas:

  • Speak with distributors that sell for them; ask their opinion of them
  • Ask people as a whole in the industry what do you think about ____?
  • Visit the facility!  Whatever you do, do this one! You do not have to be a rocket scientist to tell whether a company has their act together or not
  • Ask product design companies and packaging companies
  • Find out who your competitor uses
  • Try to use someone within driving distance of your house

The above answers will help you make an educated guess. Now you may ask yourself, why did she come up with this list?  And the answer is very simple--I did not take the steps above.  Instead I met two very nice guys at a tradeshow and fell for the “We could do that.  We can get that done in 8 weeks TOP… no problem!”  Instead what I got was one year of lies.  One year of miss-opportunities to sell my products.  A tool that was comprised of half of the material promised and a $64,000 tool that ended up being sold for $50 to a scrap yard….Yeah…. 

When it was all said and done, $200,000 was wasted with this company.  Let me repeat that, $200,000 dollars!  Think you are going to be the next millionaire with your great product idea?  Think again if you are not VERY careful!

 Save yourself the grief and follow the list above.  In all seriousness, manufacturing is not cheap.  Tooling has a wide range of pricing because it depends on the size of your product.  In addition, my tooling is in the injection molding manufacturing industry which is completely different than other manufacturing industries. If your idea while be in my industry and your product is an average size say 12X12X12 you could pretty much count on tooling being $20,000 to $80,000 depending on the complexity.   

 Other things to think of is:  where do you want your products manufactured, what stores do you see your products sold at, how do you price it, how do you get buyers to buy it, should you hire distributors?  For me, there was only one answer for manufacturing: MADE IN THE GOOD OLD USA.  There is not a whole bunch of them out there either believe me.  BUT, boy is there some good ones!  And I am proud to say my products are made in the USA!

I think picking the stores is the easy one.  For myself I knew I wanted to sell to buybuy baby, One Step Ahead, The Right Start, and Babies R Us.  Why? Because these were the stores I shopped at while my children were little.

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