It's been a few months since my last post. In that time, we've had some very exciting developments as well as a few obstacles...rather disappointing obstacles, at first glance. However, this is a journey. Even the most successful journey has moments of imperfection...or downright aggravation. In our case, a successful product launch and great consumer response is the ultimate goal, for sure, but it's become pretty obvious we'll earn some bumps and bruises on the way to that goal. If we want to be real here, success isn't only measured by the final count. For example, we don't even have any assurances our new product will be a huge success - although, I'm extremely optimistic! Instead, we measure our current successes in how we steadfastly push forward, dealing with our disappointments and our moments of excitement as they come. This forward motion now has us within striking distance of launching our new product. I would say that's an absolute success! It did take us longer than we expected, but that's okay. We're still plodding along, faithfully and firmly. This blog, though, is titled "expecting obstacles, but also expecting to overcome them" so let's continue...
In my last post, I talked about dealing with some companies that just didn't seem to be on the same wavelength as we were. No matter how hard I tried to communicate my perspective, it just seemed like they either weren't interested or didn't want my business. Part of this perspective was based on the fact we had a couple of manufacturers that seemed to understand what we wanted and appeared to be as excited about working with us as we were with them. Things were going very well. They made it easier for us to recognize when a company didn't seem to be "all in" for our product. Unfortunately, things sometimes change...and they did. In short, an obstacle arose that we weren't expecting. It became apparent that one of our committed manufacturers appeared to lose focus on our product and began thinking only of its own bottom line with little concern for us and our consumers.
Before anyone thinks I'm just bashing a company for their business practices that don't mesh with my own, please allow me to clarify something. I believe companies should earn a very healthy profit. Not just so they can earn money but, also, so they can take care of their employees and survive any potential downturns that could affect their long-term viability. I want my vendors to be strong and profitable and in business for many years to come. You've heard the saying "A rising tide lifts all boats." That statement is the basis of legitimate, honest, ethical capitalism. If my company does well with integrity, so will theirs. Remember that truth...when you're dealing with businesses or employees or customers - or even family and friends.
Anyway, let's get back to our obstacle - this "previously-supportive company turned less-supportive." We made a decision to revamp one of the components of our product by reducing its size. Sadly, when this particular manufacturer submitted their revised pricing proposal to us for this now-smaller component, even though the amount of raw materials had been reduced by 15%, the cost for this new component had increased by 35-40%. Their explanation was higher raw material costs and labor. I did some research and learned that recent increases in these raw material costs were nothing remotely close to what they were inferring. The additional labor costs didn't make sense, either. At this point, we realized we would not be able to have an honest, mutually-beneficial relationship with this company. On top of that, the new pricing on this one component knocked us completely out of being able to sell our product at a price we believed was reasonable and acceptable for consumers.
This might seem like an insurmountable obstacle. We certainly didn't have another manufacturer of this kind to fall back on. How were we going to overcome this? Could we overcome it? The short answer? Yes, we could...and, yes, we did!
In reality, this wasn't the end of the world for us. In fact, you might be surprised to hear it was actually a blessing in disguise. It didn't even slow us down. "Why is that?" you may ask. Simple. We went back to the "drawing board" and came up with a completely different idea for our product design. Well, at least, for this particular component of our product. Moreover, the new design used a totally different manufacturing process, a process one of our other committed manufacturers was already handling for us. We brought the new design to them and they were able to handle the additional work. The really good news? It's now a substantially better design and it's 75% cheaper to manufacture than the original version. In other words, we went from a great product to an exceptional product! This improvement would not have happened without that obstacle. Looking forward, we believe our current manufacturers are "all in" for our product. There are four of them. Nevertheless, it is important to "trust, but verify" as our 40th President, Ronald Reagan, used to say. We don't see any obvious future obstacles but we're prepared for them if they show up. Again, I say, "Expect obstacles, but also expect to overcome them."
Incidentally, you may be asking, "What are these exciting developments I mentioned at the top of my post?" The primary one I want to share with you is this. Last week, our patent attorney informed us we've been granted our patent. We're beyond excited. Technically, we received a "Notice of Allowance." Just a few hoops we have to jump through before its officially issued...mostly paying some very nominal fees...but you see where I'm going. This unexpected manufacturing obstacle didn't stop us at all. In fact, it probably helped us. Incidentally, if there's one thing I want to re-emphasize, get yourself a good patent attorney. They are worth their weight in gold. If you would like the name of our patent attorney, leave me a comment or send me an email. I'll be happy to provide his contact information.
When it's all said and done, just remember, your idea/product/invention is your baby! It's got your heart and soul in it. No one will ever have the passion about your idea that you do. Don't expect them to. It doesn't matter how many times you have to change course or how many people you have to talk to or how many doors you have to knock on...or, even, how many times you get knocked down...just keep moving. A popular phrase related to this idea is "pick yourself up and dust yourself off." I'm saying, "you don't have to dust yourself off. You don't even have to pick yourself up. Crawl, if you have to! Get up and walk with the dust caked on you, getting in your eyes and mouth. You'll still get there, obstacles and all, so long as you don't quit!
Best wishes for a successful journey, a successful launch, and a successful ending!
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