As the Tom Petty song “The Waiting” says – “The waiting… is the hardest part.” So what do you do when a process is on hold, or you’re having to wait for the next step? The simple answer is to pick up something else and work on that. But of course the answer is a bit more involved. Let’s take a look at the specific area of inventing, then a general look at the wide category of business.
[For fun, I’ve posted the “‘Behind The Waiting'” music video below – yes I know it has nothing to do with this subject 🙂 But I guess it kind of does when you hear the time and the process he went through to put the song together]
As an Inventor:
Waiting for an answer can be the hardest part… An answer to what, though?
The easiest part of the inventing process is paying an attorney for the potentially complicated, and certainly somewhat expensive, process of prior art searches, filing applications for patents, trademarks, and other forms of protection. Yes, there are other forms of protections – trade secrets, plant patents, and so on. To say nothing for the time span involved, (did someone say waiting?).
Then the waiting begins. Waiting for an “office action.” This is a communication from the patent examiner that you have some explaining to do. Including answering their rejection to some claim – claims – you made, etc.
During this time (the time between filing and hopefully being awarded your intellectual property rights), which can take a couple of years for this process to complete, your job is to start the marketing process and find a company that would like to license your patent pending product. And then, should you be awarded your protection, assigning the protection rights to your licensee.
Here’s the real issue after building a prototype or working model, getting and showing up to meetings with prospective licensees – let’s say you license your product, then what should you expect?
It may take 18 to 24 months to receive your first royalty check because of final product and packaging design considerations, sourcing manufacturing, the actual manufacturing, shipping and inventory. All the while your licensee is setting up meetings with their retail customers by designing yet other items like sales brochures and the actual pitch for why the retailer should place this product on their shelf, in a catalog and/or on their websites.
NOTE: Of course, you may want to build a business around this thing. In this case, the work has just begun.
Unless you have created a novelty product or something that would appear on a home shopping channel, a product that would then sell into a retailer like “Bed Bath & Beyond” or a department store chain, a fitness retailer – a major issue arises…
SKU’s, Retail Buyers And Being A Vendor:
(SKU = Stock Keeping Unit.)
To put it short and sweet; to be brief; to get right to the point 🙂 I’ll tell you this regarding building a business around your single product offering of a NOT seen on TV product. You’re proposition to the retail buyer is that you have one SKU to offer and you’d like to sell-in this product. Not a line of products, simply a single product. You are not posing as a salesperson with several products of varying categories. Just a person (a product owner) with one product, one SKU.
Imagine being that buyer. Imagine having to manage 500 ‘vendors’ (product owners) with one SKU each. Wouldn’t you rather manage 10 vendors with 50 SKU’s each. Now that would make your life much easier as a buyer, yes?
Let’s say you land a placement with your one product. Now the waiting begins. Waiting for the purchase order. Waiting for the inventory to arrive to your warehouse/storage facility/fulfillment center.
Then of course waiting to get paid after you’ve put out all the time and money. And remember, almost all of your sales will be considered ‘guaranteed sales.’ This means that if your product doesn’t sell, you guarantee to take it back. Of course the retailer can deeply discount the product to move it out the door but that loss will be reflected in any monies owed you.
NOTE: I am NOT trying to discourage building a business around a product. I just want to emphasize the extraordinary amount of work, time and money that goes into this sort of venture – or should I say ‘Adventure?’
I have licensed products, started businesses, created and produced a motivational movie – I was the co-founder and editor of ‘Personal Development Magazine’ and many other ventures. Some paid off some did not. If you go this route, and I actually can find it in me to encourage you to at least experience the process with one condition… Practice holding your breath because, not to overrun an old adage – but I will here, “Things really do take longer and cost more than you thought.”
Products seen on home shopping channels or an infomercial typically are stand alone products – not part of a product line – and have the “As Seen on TV” status. Only after selling well on home shopping or via infomercial will a retailer consider putting this category of product (single SKU offering) on the shelf. You’ve seen this set up – end-cap “As Seen on TV” placement. Or main aisle gondola placement.
Though the stores may advertise these products in their periodic direct mail pieces, for the most part these stores rely and depend on the television exposure. This exposure is what is driving sales. They are NOT paying for the TV exposure! You or your licensee licensee is. You or your licensee are betting that your product will do well enough on TV that retailers will want it, thinking it will sell well in the store. After all, they have to fill shelf space and if it ends up not selling they can pull it or deeply discount to clear the inventory.
In any case this all takes time and a phrase comes to mind, “Don’t quit your day job.”
In business the potential waiting scenarios range from product design, logo designs to marketing material for gathering clients, filing for your business entity paper work. Should someone be interested in what you have (in the case of a product offering) you’ll be waiting for your first purchase order. Then you’ll be waiting the 90-plus days for your first check!
If you are offering a service like window washing, pressure washing driveways, gardening or whatever, the first thing to do is get the necessary tools and materials and START delivering that service.
In the event that your endeavor requires a contractor’s license you’ll have to work under another’s license and wait until you’ve put in the time as an apprentice then take the necessary test(s) to launch on your own.
The cool thing about staring up a service business is that you can actually start NOW! Knock doors, ask for referrals show up and start washing those cars or cleaning those rain gutters… Because the rainy season will be coming 🙂
CAVEAT: In the case of a professional occupation category like medical or legal education, tax preparing and financial advising, you’ll have to to pass all the attendant schooling, training and testing. But, you can intern and actually work in these areas – as I understand it, the student is actually encouraged to start working in this capacity at a certain point during schooling, or during summer breaks, etc.
Clearly there is much more to cover and consider. My point here is nothing just happens – and though that may seem like a “Captain Obvious” statement, I think it important to not get in either over one’s head or expect something sooner than it will happen – if it happens at all!!
Until next time… Enjoy the adventure 🙂 🙂
Featured Image courtesy of Lavoview at FreeDigitalPhotos.net