Moms seem to have product ideas bouncing around in their heads constantly. We're always thinking about how our lives could be easier with this or that, but most of us stop there. When the idea for a product seems so simple you're also likely to think that it's already been done. Amy Creel felt that way but instead of dismissing her idea, she went online to happily discover that her Teething Bling was in fact unique. Yes, there are teething toys galore on the marketplace, but nothing was in the form of jewelry for moms.
Amy's Aha Moment:
"When my then-infant was grabbing and trying to teethe on my pearl necklace in church. The necklace broke sending pearls bouncing under all the pews! It really was a light bulb moment where I thought, 'Wait -- there must be more practical jewelry for Moms with little ones.' Sitting in church with my husband and baby, my mind started racing. I couldn't wait to get home and start doing some research. But I only allowed myself a little bit of excitement that day, figuring I was probably too late. I was sure the idea was already out there."
But after the initial rush of excitement realizing that there was this void in the marketplace, Amy became overwhelmed. She suffered from analysis paralysis. She knew that she had a great idea but without a clue about how to get started, the daunting sense of launching a biz was just too much... until a few years later when something tragic happened in her life and she saw things from a very different perspective.
Amy explains that "My sister-in-law died very unexpectedly after giving birth to my niece. It was a life-altering event for my entire family. I had always admired Maria for pursuing her career dreams. She left Toledo after finishing art school and moved to NYC, even though she didn't know a soul. She desperately wanted to be a clothing designer and spent 10 long years working her way up the ladder at a big fashion house. A few months before she died, she was finally promoted to designer -- and was the happiest I'd ever known her. I decided I didn't want to make decisions from a place of fear anymore. No more sitting on the sidelines, being paralyzed by indecision. I have a picture of Maria on my desk because she inspires me daily. When I am feeling uncertain, it helps to look at her and think about all that she accomplished in her short life. It wasn't that she didn't get scared -- she just didn't let that stop her. And of course, I have my now six-year-old niece Emma in my life. She's an inspiration, too."
Amy took this divine inspiration and used it to fuel herself with strength and confidence. She now had a bigger purpose and passion attached to her idea. She was going to find a way to make it happen.
Still, with this new found energy, Amy began first by thinking about what it meant to start a business, both emotionally and physically. She made a list of all of her fears about starting a business. She says "It was extremely helpful to have that information in writing then tease out what were 'legitimate' worries and what were 'old/unproductive' concerns I was still carrying around, most from childhood/earlier days. I think sometimes we compartmentalize too much, not realizing that our emotional well-being is absolutely connected to everything, including work."
Next, she made a list of goals. "I think when we're feeling overwhelmed, it can be helpful to slow things down. Break it into smaller pieces. The next list was action steps including deadlines. Amy says, "The key was simply to get started -- not to have it all figured out upfront."
Amy's Lists To Overcome Fear Of Starting A Biz:
1. Make a list of your fears. Confront them and try to release them.
2. Make a list of your goals. List small steps that you feel you can accomplish.
3. List action steps & deadlines.
Amy also feels it's critical to surround herself with a supportive team. "For four years, I had the product in my house and filled every single order myself. It allowed little time for all the other aspects of the business. One of the best decisions I made was to bring on a fulfillment center. Having help with the actual orders has freed up time for me to do lots of other important tasks. Another great 'hiring pool' is the stay-at-home mom. Everyone on our staff is a mom and they are the best."
Amy's Tips for Balancing Family and Biz: (Her kids are now 7 & 11 years old)
• Work as efficiently as possible while the kids are at school.
• When the kids are home, be fully present with them. The work still be there tomorrow.
• Commit to exercise. Even if it's just a 15 minute walk, it's important.
• Delegate -- give team members their assignments and let them go.
• Don't take things too seriously. Have fun every day!
Several years after that church pearl dropping debacle, Amy is happily running a very successful business while paying homage to her sister-in-law.
Amy sums up her business advice with:
"There's no easy way to start and run a business. It takes daily hard work. There are no true overnight successes and every day requires renewed commitment. One of the biggest ways to succeed is to be responsive. Return calls and emails promptly, the same business day if possible. Update your social media regularly and don't ever let a customer (potential or current) wait to hear from you. It's amazing how many opportunities are lost simply because of a lack of responsiveness. If you do one thing -- that would be it. Get back to people right away."
Today, Teething Bling is sold in over 500 stores in the U.S. as well as in 15 countries worldwide. Sometimes it's the simplest idea that can solve a very common issue.
Are you keeping an idea trapped in your head? Give it a chance. Make your lists. Sink your teeth into it!