Tired of feeling embarrassed of my dry, cracked hands while only in my 20s, I learned from my grandmother to use the age-old beauty secret of wearing gloves over moisturizer overnight. She gave me a pair of gloves that were cheap and flimsy, but I liked the concept. I couldn't find a better glove, so I thought, I can't be the only one with this problem. If I make better gloves, I bet other women will want them too! It turned out that many others did need it, and that very simple idea turned into a very real business that I am still running 15 years later!
My top 5 tips are:
1. Equip yourself with the right tools. I don’t have a business background, so I felt very overwhelmed by most business books when I started out. The extra information they give – which isn’t necessary when you’re just starting out -- set me back and made me feel unqualified to be an entrepreneur. My advice is to find a book you can relate to, that speaks your language and encourages you on your path. I actually published my own book Your Idea, Inc., which doesn’t assume any business background on the part of the reader, but which encourages and supports you on your path.
2. Start with a positive mindset. If you truly believe in what you are doing and believe that there is a market for your product, don’t give up. Find your own way to deal with the inevitable obstacles, setbacks, negative comments and frustration. I suggest both mental exercises -- like "mantras," words or phrases that you repeat to yourself several times daily that reinforce your purpose -- and physical activity. Then let it all "go" every night (I recommend some deep breathing exercises for this) and start fresh in the morning with positive thoughts and energy!
3. Take full advantage of today's technology. You can set up a virtual office and website, email etc. extremely fast. With this professional facade you will look like a "real" company, even if your company is only you sitting at your kitchen table in your pajamas with your laptop. I recommend services like eFax and eVoice voicemail systems. You can then receive faxes wherever your laptop is and be reached anywhere, even receiving voicemails via text and email.
4. Use social media to spread the word. Using social media costs nothing and can have amazing (marketing) reach.
5. Research and immerse yourself in your marketplace. With the Internet at your fingertips, research is a cinch. You need to know all about your closest competitor(s) and be sure that your product is better, faster, easier. Know about the materials you need, learn about why one material is better than another -- this will become an important selling point for you.
Pound the pavement too. Get out into stores and see where your product would belong, what the packaging should be like, learn the lingo of the industry. Subscribe to trade magazines, join professional organizations and networking groups. Reach out to others. Ask questions. You may be surprised at how willing some people are to help; I know I was. Become an expert.
Sandy Abrams is founder and CEO of Moisture Jamzz, Inc. Founded in 1993 around her signature moisturizing glove product, Moisture Jamzz has counted among its clients Bath & Body Works; the Estée Lauder Company (Origins and Aveda); H2O PLUS; Crabtree & Evelyn, and others. Started in a corner of her one-bedroom Los Angeles apartment, Sandy built Moisture Jamzz, Inc. from scratch into a company grossing millions without a business degree. Today, it is still a privately held corporation that Sandy runs with her husband.