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Big Boost

Manufacturing And Marketing

Heroff's next step was to decide how to pay for and sell her product. Her first shot at scoring funding was a bust-one investor wanted her to sell the product herself, but she didn't like the idea of being the company's lone salesperson. She then located an investor through networking contacts who felt she should sell through manufacturers' sales representatives. More comfortable with that idea, Heroff found her representatives by first determining what companies had somewhat competitive products and finding out on the Internet which stores sold their products. "I called the stores and asked if they could recommend any reps to sell my product," says Heroff. "The stores almost always gave me someone's name."

Heroff still had one more obstacle. She wanted to offer her tops in a variety of colors and fabrics, but she only had initial orders from 30 stores, and the fabric manufacturers had large minimum requirements for orders. Unwilling to commit to those big order quantities, Heroff went back to Private Label Industries (which, after all, did own a stake in her company) and asked the owner what to do. He suggested that Heroff go with "cutting to order," or keeping inventory to a minimum. The material cost more, but she didn't have to commit all her funds to inventory. It was fortunate that Heroff did order more material than she needed to handle reorders-because she started getting them within a month of her initial shipments.

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This article was originally published in the November 2000 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Big Boost.

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