A few weeks ago, I announced BIG news that I officially licensed my product(s) and very soon in the near future, you will be able to find them on shelves near you (fingers and toes and everything else crossed). This was mighty big news a couple of weeks ago, but it took a long time for it to come, and for a good part of that time, I thought that I coulda, woulda never be happy with a licensing deal.
When I first started down the path of taking my product ideas from inception to market, I always envisioned that I would manufacture my products myself. Ok, not me exactly, but I originally wanted to BE in the products business. In fact, many times throughout the adventure, I questioned others as to why they want(ed) to go the licensing route when they could do it all themselves (translate = own it all themselves).
It is a pretty large and looming question for many inventors of not just products, but creators of service based industries, too. TO License or Manufacture, that is the QUESTION, my friend. I am going to let you in on a dirty little secret that took me a long time to learn. There is no correct answer. The only right answer is what feels right for you as an entrepreneur. Cliche’? Absolutely. Right? Absolutely.
Inventing and Creating something new or improving on an age-old concept is a long process. Take a look at the history or the story behind any one of your favorite items or place of business, and I bet you will discover a long background in how it came to be with a story to go with each step.
For me, inventing was one part wanting to bring my idea to life and one part reinventing myself as a mom with kids grasping for their own independence.
I needed to be there in a new way for my sons, so I had a chance to DO something for ME in a new way, too. This is how Back’nGrooveMom came to life. Originally, a personal journal about me (which I realized all too quickly was an extremely boring subject) became a larger, more creative entity for moms, new or old to business, struggling to figure out the elusive balance between work and family.
As I continued to move my product idea along, searching out its viability and usefulness in every way possible, I continued to raise my kids and write. Write here, there, and everywhere. I found I love writing and speaking and motivating moms in any way shape or form on the fast-paced lives we lead today. Way back when, I wondered where the on-ramp was after being out of the working world on a career break for a few years. I very quickly learned there are many on-ramps, and the only thing in common between them was that they were all 75 mph highways. Life moves at an insane pace when you are working, mothering preteens, and remaining sane.
Either way, I learned that I had many exciting adventures on my horizon including but not limited to moving my product(s) into the market place. In order to do that and keep my other race cars moving forward, I could not manufacture on my own. I set out to build a products business and discovered that I am actually a much more creative-brain person who was growing a number of brands that could not exist without each other. By the time I finished inventing and was ready to go with patent pending, I was already fixing up Back’nGrooveMom, freelancing, speaking, and writing on behalf of moms who like?? being unbalanced with all the stuff of today. The product(s) could not be without the blog and the blog could not breathe without the product(s), so licensing was my savior.
Licensing allows me to do both while bringing other ideas to life. So, how do I still feel comfortable calling myself an entrepreneur? Well, IMO, licensing cannot happen without someone’s intellectual property. Without my ideas and hard design work and most important, my ongoing testing and feeling out the market on my idea(s), this deal would not exist.
Which brings me to…
Licensing Tip #1 – Hold onto your Intellectual Property from Day ONE. This means from crafting a Non-Disclosure right from the get-go to protecting your ideas with patents and negotiating that those concepts, patents, IP always remain with you. When I asked a fellow group of inventors to speak up on licensing and what is important, protecting IP was a recurring comment. Both Norm & Roland, concurred to protect your IP was crucial in licensing.
I am with them all the way. In the beginning, I thought it was somewhat silly to always be executing a NDA, but I quickly learned that this one simple gesture gave the message that I was serious about my idea. After years of hard work, I immediately recognized the value of applying for a provisional patent before putting my idea into the world.
This is only one Tip of many when it comes to licensing, and I plan to share one each week until we have exhausted them all?!
So, please leave any questions, topics or subjects you would like me to touch on in the comments section below.