Don’t Get Burned By Your Lightbulb Moment

Last week, I read an article on StartUpPrincess.com by Margie Zable Fisher called “How to Get Media Coverage for Your Product”.
 
 
Step #1 in Margie’s how-to? Have a great product.
 
Clearly, to get media coverage for your product, it’s gotta be a great product. She’s absolutely right about that.
 
Margie then goes on to list some of the elements of a great product–priced right, unique, visually appealing–but doesn’t spend a ton of time on it because her article is focused on getting media coverage for your product. I encourage you to read her article because it offers wonderful tips, and as a successful PR person, Margie knows what she’s talking about.
 
Reading this article reminded me of when I invented Swaddleaze and how exciting it was to take an idea and turn it into an actual product on store shelves.
 
It also reminded me of how easy it is to get burned by your lightbulb moment if you go into it blindly.
 

So, here are my steps to avoid getting burned by your lightbulb moment:

 
1. Google your idea to see if it already exists. If there’s already something like it on the market, would your invention be an improvement? Is the market big enough (read: would enough people buy your product) for both products?
 
When I attended the JPMA trade show two years ago, there was a guy who’d “invented” a neoprene bottle cover that kept baby bottles cool. My sister & I (and everyone who saw his sketch) didn’t have the heart to tell him that his “invention” had been on the market for years.
 
 
2. Search the U.S. Patent & Trademark Organization. Do a “quick search” under both “issued patents” and “patent applications”. Do you see anything here that looks & sounds like your idea? Again, even if you do, it doesn’t mean that your product can’t be brought to market–it’s just great to be aware of competitors early on in the game.
 
 
3. Ask your family & friends for their honest opinion about your idea–and don’t be paranoid about them stealing it. Most people don’t have the time, money or energy to develop a product.
 
Would they buy it? How much would they pay for it? Would they make any improvements? Where would they go to purchase it? If you have a prototype, let them try it. My husband’s coworker tried a Swaddleaze sample on his twins and he was the one who discovered Swaddleaze’s second use as a sleep sack!
 
 
4. Consider presenting your idea to key people in the industry, like retail buyers, advertising executives or the CEO of a company that might make a product like yours. Bring a non-disclosure form to protect your idea. Hearing feedback from unbiased people will give you a better look at your product’s future AND it may create opportunities for you early on (licensing, selling your idea, exclusive deals, etc.).
 
 
5. Surround yourself with support. Read books about people who’ve done it before. Visit websites for inventors. Join an online community for mom entrepreneurs. And know that I’m always here to help.
 
 
Following these steps will help you get started with your eyes open and will prevent you from getting burned by your lightbulb moment. 

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Heather Allard

Heather Allard is a mom of three kids + one big rescue dog. She's a wellness buff, an essential oil educator with dōTERRA, and a self-professed “entrepreneur to the core”.
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15 Comments

  1. Courtney

    Good advice! A few years ago I had a ‘lightbulb’ moment – I wanted to create individually wrapped Qtips with makeup remover on them (for those moments when you’re out and you need to clean up the mascara or eye liner that is smeared around your eyes). Lo & behold, I found that my “brilliant” idea had already existed when I researched it on Google, and it was by one of my favorite makeup brands, Bare Essentials! Argghh! At least it saved me a lot of time and frustration!

    Reply
  2. Margie Zable Fisher

    Heather, this is so true! For those of us who have lots of ideas, it’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of a new idea. I love your tips. As someone who constantly has new ideas, I needed to find a way to not let them overtake everything in my day. A smart person taught me to have a place where I can put all of my exciting ideas and come back to them later. It could be a notebook, an electronic folder, even a fishbowl where you write the idea down and put it in. Then you can schedule time to review your new ideas.

    Reply
    • Heather Allard

      Margie,
      I’m one of the “big idea people” too – I have notebooks all around my house with ideas jotted down – it’s good to “braindump” so you can get on with your day and not be distracted by ideas swirling around in your head. LOL.

      I like the fishbowl idea too. Pretty cool!

      Thanks,
      Heather

      Reply
  3. Ros

    I also scoured the stores in person to research if there were any products that existed like mine. Highly recommend joining online communities for more education. Proud to say, TMM was one of my first blogs I subscribed to and have learned tremendously over the years. Thanks Heather, as always, another insightful post with real action steps to take before bringing your product to market.

    Reply
    • Heather Allard

      Hi Ros,
      Yes, scouring stores is awesome to do for a lot of reasons – to see if there are existing products, check out who’s carrying them, see how they’re packaged, etc.

      Great idea! Thanks.
      Heather

      Reply
  4. Janie McQueen

    Excellent blog post. Nothing can replace properly researching your “great idea” and potential market/competition before you get totally in gear! Another suggestion could be that if someone has already done what you had in mind, start thinking of ways to improve upon it or make it different, or make a complimentary product.

    Reply
  5. Stacey Kannenberg

    Great post!!! I especially love the support from amazing people like Margie, StartupPrincess.com and YOU! Keep on doing all you do to help so many others!

    Reply
    • Heather Allard

      Thanks, Stacey! I think you’re pretty amazing yourself. ;D

      Heather

      Reply
  6. Renee

    Even better than handing out weartest samples to friends, sell some to members of your target niche, then check back to see how they are liking the product. It’s one thing to have friends and family tell you they would purchase your product, but you’ll never get accurate feedback until you have paying customers.

    Reply
  7. Sheila

    All very true!!! My Handy Burp’ems just hit the shelves at all Babies R’ Us locations nationwide and were just ordered by another large retailer!!! Definitely alot of hard work, but so worth it when you truly believe in your product! Thanks for sharing!!!!

    Reply
  8. Heather A.

    Linde,
    You’re right–thanks for the added tips!

    Heather

    Reply
  9. Linde-Tailored Tadpole

    Thanks, MM. Good food for thought (and action), as always.
    The non-disclosure agreement is also important for manufactures of your product. A non-compete agreement can be useful too. Just a thought. Thanks!

    Reply
  10. Mama Lynn

    Thanks for your sharing your terrific insights. Bringing *your* product to market can be a wonderful experience – especially when you keep your eyes and ears open to feedback. Listening is key!
    Thanks,
    Lynn
    http://www.mamasays.us

    Reply
  11. Heather A.

    Thanks, Corrie. Glad GRiPPiES is growing!! 🙂

    Heather

    Reply
  12. Corrie Wilder

    Absolutely true, all around. GRiPPiES is growing, and the more we grow the more research we need to do to be absolutely sure our “t’s” are crossed and our “i’s” are dotted.

    Surround yourself with motivated, enthusiastic, brutally honest people. And learn to listen carefully. You will gather a trememdous amount of valuable information this way.

    Thanks for the post!

    Reply

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