Right Hair, Right Now

Get The Big Accounts

In 1999, Sokera and Cavil started calling on bigger distributor accounts and began to pick up some small initial orders. Of course, Sokera would have liked to get big orders right away, but that's not what typically happens with new specialty items. Each salon would buy only a limited amount of Sokera's product simply because each salon was an independent business.

The only cost-effective way for Sokera to reach multiple salons was to work through a distributor who sold a variety of beauty products. When distributors first agreed to take on Sokera's product, they placed small orders because they hadn't yet built up a demand. Over time, however, the distributors convinced more and more salons to handle the product, which in turn allowed the distributor to steadily increase its orders. Cavil also got Sally Beauty Products, one of the nation's largest beauty supply chains, to carry the product line. While the small initial distributor and retailer orders weren't making Sokera rich, they were a key step toward building a substantial sales base. In 1999, Sokera's sales reached $150,000.

While everyone wants immediate success, if you're like most inventors, you don't have the financial resources needed for a large product launch. Instead, you probably need to follow Sokera's example and go through the three-step product introduction process. The benefits of the process are substantial. First, you can get started with a minimum investment; second, your reliance on assistance from others in your industry minimizes the number of mistakes you'll make; and third, you can still end up with a substantial business.

Don't get discouraged if success seems a long time coming. When it comes to introducing a new product, in many cases, slow and steady wins the race.

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This article was originally published in the March 2000 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Right Hair, Right Now.

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