Paddling to YOUR fountain!

It’s 5:30 a.m. and the alarm on my iPhone goes off to “All I do is Win” (hey, don’t judge – use what gets you going).  Every morning I wake up to a plethora of emails, instant messages, and social media notifications.  As I reach for my phone, I begin sifting through it before my eyes are fully focused.  I send 3-4 emails and messages before my feet ever hit the floor.  In a world of likes, follows, shares and tweets sometimes we have to step back and look at the simplicity of our goals. 

Recently, I had the humbling experience to join my son’s 2nd grade class for their annual team building day at The Refuge. This retreat was tucked deep in the pines of eastern North Carolina.  Summers in NC come early and this day was no different.  If you have had the pleasure of enjoying a summer in NC, you know the temps can make it well over 100 degrees and the humidity is so dense, it feels like you are suffocating.  In the middle of this property was a big pond.  On one end the water was shallow and it was thick with mud, algae, and high grass.  On the opposite end the water was deep, flowing with a beautiful fountain that sprayed up in the sky like a geyser.  The kids were not in their swim suits and plunging in for a refreshing swim, instead they were fully clothed, including socks and shoes, and a life vest strapped to them.  I watched as sweat poured down their little red faces.  They were filled with excitement as they looked at the fountain spraying high.  I smiled as I heard chatter amongst them “can we get wet?  Are we allowed to go under that?” They were practically envisioning themselves under the fountain as they asked.  Teams of two were put into canoes and launched into the end with all the muck.  They were not given any instructions, other than “the canoe is almost impossible to flip”. However, they all had their eye on the same goal – the fountain.  I watched as they struggled to paddle through the mud and grass.  For many of these kids, this was their first time paddling without an adult.  My son was paddling his little heart out, while his partner held his paddle in the water in the rear of the canoe.  This worked like a rudder causing the canoe to turn in circles.  Can you imagine the frustration of an 8 year old, going the opposite direction of his fountain oasis? Some moved more quickly than others, some getting stuck in the mud, and some taking detours along the way, but ALL of them kept going and none of them gave up. 

As entrepreneurs, salespeople, and business owners we start out in the muck and the high grass.  We struggle, we turn in circles, and sometimes we lose sight of the fountain. When we continue, we make it to clearer waters and the paddling becomes easier.  Some fear the canoe is going to flip, some of us take detours and others zigzag along the way, but we keep going – keeping our eye on the “fountain”!!!  

Jim and I are here to help you navigate through the mud, teaching you how to paddle and put you on the right path - encouraging you when you get turned around and turning you back in the right direction.  We want to help you to bask in the glory of the fountain.  What does YOUR fountain look like?

Why is Inventing so Popular these Days?

From TV shows such as Shark Tank and Make Me A Millionaire Inventor to leading magazines such as Inc. and Entrepreneur filling their pages with articles about inventing and innovation, it is no surprise that so many people are getting excited about inventing! Along with this, the growing economy is actually fueling the inventing business and here is why….

Many corporate executives and employees are often nervous about the financial state of the companies they work for and are nervous about losing their jobs. Certainly seems natural to worry. So, what is a person to do? They finally decide that they will take a chance and start their own business. The risk is great but they could in effect control their own fate. If they succeed or fail it will be because of their efforts and abilities (among other factors) and for many that just feels good. We know that when we decided to “take the plunge” we were nervous and had no idea what would eventually happen. We left the comfort of a secure paycheck and benefits but decided that from that point on that no one was going to eliminate us through lay offs, changes in company direction, or whatever other reasons companies have for letting people go – and often with little or no notice!

Today, people are coming to us in droves asking us to help them start their businesses and inventing is indeed a business. Many of them are financially prepared to make a break from the corporate life but realize that soon enough they will have to do something to get their business to succeed. Just something to think about…..

Why Most Inventors are NOT Making Millions!

You know….people have always said and it still rings true today – you must work hard and be patient if you want to be successful. Vague…I know! However, for most inventors, it seems as if they feel success will just show up at their doorstep simply because they believe their product is the best that has even been created. Having worked with inventors for years, we can safely say that managing these expectations is just part of our job. The reality is that most inventors won’t enjoy success and the reasons vary. One large one though is their inability or lack of desire to stay the course and continue to endure the many “no’s” they will receive from large retailers as well as a lack of overall sales in the early going. Today, more than ever, selling products is difficulty due to the endless amount of people coming up with product ideas and a lack of shelf space to house them all. So, what to do?

– You must expect to spend at least a year and sometimes a few before you will achieve any meaningful sales – you just have to get used to this fact.

– Just developing and making your product ready for retail from day one will almost always take at least 6-9 months and many times a year or more. Lots of moving parts to deal with and the people you hire to help you get things done are likely also busy with other projects meaning that it will take time to accomplish each phase of getting your product completed.

– Keep a smile on your face! We know its not easy sometimes but this is essential! Nothing great seems to happen overnight….and successful inventing is no exception.

So, knowing that time is the key and working hard are just a few key thoughts for making money in this business. It can be done and is done everyday so think of it that way. Just stay with it….and like a new plant seed eventually it will grow and bear fruit!

How Inventing Makes the World go 'Round

Inventors are certainly special people! They are creative problem solvers and thinkers who often come up with some of the greatest products that solve everyday problems and make our lives more convenient and enjoyable. For people that have such a special skill, they are lucky to be able to pursue their ideas and in this country we are free to pursue our dreams no matter where they may take us.

We always see great invention ideas and as always we really enjoy seeing so many cool products and interacting with so many enthusiastic inventors just looking for some help….and some hope! We spend a lot of time talking about how to prepare your products for retail and with that comes one of the most important aspects of inventing – knowing that a successful inventor can help stimulate economy by creating work for others and allowing that inventor to earn a living, spend money, and potentially prosper and hopefully help others. We all need some help at one point or another and so we do our part to make sure people with ideas understand the long road ahead of them and what to expect along the way.

So, we say to any aspiring inventor – get up and find out what it will take for your dreams to become a reality. Learn what you can and then prepare for the journey. While doing so, understand that when you become successful as a small business you do more than just help yourself. You inadvertently help others. You create jobs. You spend money which supports other businesses. A lot of good comes from your success!

It's a New Year! What are you going to do for your business in 2017!

When a new year arrives, we tend to do what so many others do – plan summer vacations with their families, enjoy a winter beach getaway or a snowy trip to the mountains, sleep in a little later on a lazy weekend day, or just spend time outside. However, when you run your own business, the work never stops. And when you take time off, the “payback” for slacking off can catch up to you in a hurry!

So, what is the secret to balancing your lazy days and your business that you know you need to grow? Plan it out!! Here is what we do so we can enjoy the upcoming year and get our work done:

– We make sure we plan out a few weeks off during the summer but we always stay in touch with work. If we go to the beach, we bring our laptops (not to the actual beach!) and check our emails early in the morning and then later in the evening when the kids are worn out and ready for bed. We get the best of both worlds – we get some fun in the sun and we keep up with our work!

– We work harder on Mondays and Fridays so we can start our week off feeling good and end our week on a high note so we can relax some on the weekend. During the mid week, we still work hard but knowing we give that extra push in the beginning and end makes us feel better about everything.

– Spend time outside on your deck or by the pool and think about where you business is now and where you want it to be at the end of the year. This means looking at what is working and what is not and making changes so that by the end of the year you can be closer to what you want.

So, the key is balance. You need time off to recharge and enjoy life but you want to stay on your work so you don’t fall behind and play catch up all the time. Reward yourself after a hard day of work and do what you can to motivate yourself when you have a slower day. Either way…find ways that work for you and love your business…isn’t that the reason you started it anyway?

Tis the Season to be Inventing

The holidays are here and with that comes the time to give gifts to the ones you love!  It’s also a time when retailers cash in.  For many retailers, the Christmas holiday can be more than 25-30% of their total retail sales.  So, these retailers make a huge push to offer the most innovative and exciting products to their millions of customers. 


How can you cash in on this huge bonanza come Christmas 2017?  Get your invention ideas out of your head, onto to paper, and them make them a reality!  It’s a pretty simple process – you jot down your idea, do a patent search to make sure you can safely pursue it, find out the cost to design and develop the product, find a factory to make the product, create a package and a price for your product, and then you go out and try to sell it.  Of course, there are other steps along the way but the basic idea is that you MUST ACT and not sit back and do nothing about making your dreams a reality!  Retail store buyers are looking for new products anywhere from six months to a year in advance.  You must prepare NOW if you hope to be a part of the festivities next year.  Doing so means learning all of the proper steps to inventing and then acting on each step carefully.  It will take time to get your product into a retail ready item, but talking about it and doing something about it is the difference between future success and just dreaming about it!


Get out a pen and paper.  Jot down your ideas.  Share them with your significant other.  Get excited!  Then, take your plan and take action!  Be a part of the success that so many retailers enjoy.  They count on YOU, the inventor, to provide them with the new holiday hot item.  So…do you have the next Snuggie?!  Only way to know is to give it a go!