Like most people these days, 32-year-old Jerilyn Winstead of St. Louis is very busy. In her case, it's because she has three small children. Whether it's because of your job, family or school, you, too, probably think you're too busy to do anything with your ideas.
Big mistake. True, you might not have time to manufacture and market a product on your own, but almost everyone can spare enough time to sell a product on a private-label basis, which means you supply a product to another company that then sells it under its own name. For instance, many Sears products are made by independent manufacturers who sell the product to Sears on a private-label basis.
Winstead's invention, the BlanketStrap, is a strap with clips that attaches to a nursing blanket. It wraps around a mother's neck so she can nurse a baby more easily in public. Winstead got the idea when she was nursing her first child. When she was expecting her second child, she made a prototype, spoke to a patent attorney and started to sell her product.
From the start, Winstead was afraid she wouldn't have time to sell her product properly. She didn't want to pay $5,000 to patent it, because she was worried she wouldn't sell enough to cover the cost. She placed the product in one store and contacted several catalogs, but found she just didn't want to spare the time necessary to sell the BlanketStrap effectively.
Winstead is frustrated that she's missing out on a golden opportunity. "I know the product can sell because nursing moms love it," she says. "I just don't have time to pound the pavement." Winstead hasn't given up on the BlanketStrap, and continues to sell it on a direct basis and via mail order to people who've heard about it from a friend or seen it in a parenting magazine.
Don Debelak (firstname.lastname@example.org) is a new-business marketing consultant who has introduced new products for more than 20 years. He is the author of Bringing Your Product to Market (John Wiley & Sons, $19.95, 800-225-5945).