You want to be an entrepreneur? Here’s a few things you may want to know before embarking on this journey.
So, you have an idea, you even have some capital and much needed drive. But do you really know what’s in store for the entrepreneur’s journey? Where to start? If you answered yes to all those questions, think again. When I started out on my entrepreneurial journey, I truly had a build it and they will come attitude. I had an idea, I wanted to protect it (patent it) and gift it to the world. Why? Because it solved a a very real problem. Seemed simple enough.
But before I begin my story, I would be remiss if I didn’t take you back to the very beginning……. So, I’m the last of four girls, I was born in Sierra Leone but grew up in England, and now live in Atlanta, GA. In all my moves from continent to continent, very little has made the journey. Very little that is, but for my jewelry. As you can imagine, jewelry carries a lot of sentiment to me.
So, it was no surprise to me, when 7 years ago, I had a dream about my late grandmother. She came to me in a dream and basically said, if you want to protect your jewelry you must use something like this and she pretty much drew me a very rudimentary contraption that would allow me to keep my jewelry kink and tangle free. Now dreams have always been a way that I believe God speaks to me (and do I have a story to tell about my dreams, but that’s for another time).
For some time, I forgot about this dream. In 2012, I fell pregnant with my first child, my daughter. I was in the middle of getting my masters. And to top it all, I switched jobs in the amidst it all. I went from working 40 hours/week to working 70-80/week. After my daughter was born, the pressure continued to rise and my work never stopped. Even though I was kicking butt, I received very little accolades, no bonuses or raises.
What’s worst, that ugly thing that rears its ugly head from time to time in corporate America; favoritism, meant that those who were favored, liked and played the corporate game, often rolling and throwing their colleagues under the bus, were promoted ahead of me. With very little effort and very little work completed. But I cannot hate or be mad, they worked smarter not harder. This however created a perfect storm within, a feeling of discontent and wanting more out of my life. I wanted to be stretched, rewarded, and an environment that fostered out of the box thinking. A friend at the time, told me to pursue my dream—become an entrepreneur. She stated I often talked about my dream with my late Grandma. Why not pursue it? And I thought, she’s right, why not?
So, I began the painstaking work of figuring out how to bring this dream to life, how to become an entrepreneur. And boy did I learn some things along the way. Early 2013, with a new born, I contracted a manufacturing engineer to help me. I soon discovered that the original design, or the way I remembered it, while it would achieve the end goal of keeping my jewelry safe, if would take 167 winds to work, so it executionally cumbersome (yeah I just made up a word). Thus, we simplified the design.
A few weeks later Kinkless was born. I was on my way to becoming entrepreneur, but the journey was far from over. In September 2013, at the onset of my work on the product, I submitted a provisional patent. My grandmother’s love and my love of jewelry had helped me to turn my dream into something tangible. Later in 2014 I submitted a non-provisional pattern. Trying to work within the budget I had, I made so many mistakes, including submitting my design as a paper document, which cost me an $200.
All in all by the end of 2015, with months to go before the birth of son, my patent was approved. This was not through any effort of my own. But through the grace of God, who placed the right examiner in my path, as well as led me to sources where I could find help to answer all the objections. All in all, I overcame them all.
At the same time, I also launched a crowd funding campaign late 2014, and raised $42 of the $15k, I hoped for. While disheartening, it set me on the right path. I went through the process of realizing that to FAIL really is just a First Attempt In Learning and that it was really nothing to be afraid of. Failure is not a curse, Peter McWilliams said, ‘To avoid situations in which you might make mistakes, may be the biggest mistake of all”. In fact, I learnt so much which I do not believe I would have learnt, had I not failed. And from my learnings here are the three things you must do before embarking on this journey:
- Research, research, research! I can’t say it enough, no matter what your idea is, you have to do the research to make sure there’s a need. Having the “build it and they will come” attitude could make or break you, so be informed.
- Hire the right people to do the right job. While I lucked out with the patent, if I had enough money, I would have sought out the right professional the very first time. Otherwise, you’ll have to do rework which may cost you more in the long run
- Don’t launch your product before it’s ready. One of the biggest learning lessons I’ve had from Kinkelss, is releasing the product into the world too soon can be detrimental. Make sure your prototype, your sample, your service, is the best it can be and sellable before you release it into the world.
If I could do it over, there are certain things I would do differently but honestly it was all part of the ride and all part of my learning experience and I wouldn’t change it for the world.
Thanks for reading, I hope you’ve found it helpful. Peace and love Nina