Authors: Lori Greiner
Tags: #Business & Economics, #Entrepreneurship, #Self-Help, #Personal Growth, #Success, #Motivational
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Copyright © 2014 by Lori Greiner
All rights reserved.
Published in the United States by Ballantine Books, an imprint of Random House, a division of Random House LLC, a Penguin Random House Company, New York.
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Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Invent It, Sell It, Bank It! : Make Your Million-Dollar Idea Into A Reality
/ Lori Greiner.
ISBN 978-0-8041-7643-9 (hardback)—ISBN 978-0-8041-7644-6 (ebook)
1. Entrepreneurship. 2. Creative ability in business. I. Title.
Do not go where the path may lead. Go instead where there is no path and leave a trail
In these pages you will find the story of my success, and the step-by-step path that I took to achieve my dreams. This is what worked for me, and the system detailed in these pages I hope helps you on your journey. But nothing in this life is guaranteed, and you may have different experiences along the way. Just remember, stay true to your vision and I wish you the very best of luck!
“Every man-made thing, however small, started in someone’s imagination.”
The alarm goes off at 4:30 a.m. I hate early mornings. I’m a night owl, and if given my choice I go to sleep at 1 or 2 a.m. I drag myself out of bed, throw on jeans and a T-shirt—my get-to-the-set uniform—and still bleary-eyed manage to get myself to the Sony Pictures Studios lot, where
is shot. It’s the same set where
is filmed. I’m the first shark to arrive at hair and makeup at 6:30 a.m. because I take the longest to get camera-ready—I have more hair than any of the other sharks! By 8:00 a.m. I’m dressed and made-up and downing my second huge cup of coffee, which I never drink except for when I’m shooting
. It’s going to be a long day, and I need to be sure that I’m completely alert. The other sharks trickle in. It’s always good to see them and we joke around for a few minutes, but most of us are also on our phones, checking in with our respective businesses during the few moments of free time that we can squeeze in before shooting starts.
It’s showtime. We settle in to our respective shiny red leather armchairs. We know nothing about what lies ahead. All we can see is a bare set, empty but for the colorful Persian-style carpet on the floor. Then the stagehands rush on with the props the first contestant will need to conduct his or her pitch. Loud, invigorating music is playing to pump us up and get everyone in a good mood to start the day. The stagehands disappear, and the director starts counting down. Five. Four. Three. Two. One. Quiet on the set! The large automatic doors in front of us swing open, and the first entrepreneur walks down the long hallway toward us, past the swimming sharks and into the tank.
There are about thirty seconds between the time new contestants walk through the double doors into the tank and the time they start their pitch. They stand on the carpet silently for a few seconds, facing the sharks, and then start their pitch. It’s a nerve-wracking time for the entrepreneurs. They know this is their big moment. For the sharks, it represents a moment of anticipation.
I particularly notice which entrepreneurs make eye contact with me and which don’t, as they stand there nervously. We see about eight or nine pitches per day. Last I heard, around 35,000 people applied to audition for a spot on Season Five. Each one who makes it onto the show is so hopeful, so eager to get a deal—not just for the influx of cash but also for the partnership, mentoring, and connections that any one of the five sharks can offer. As they talk, we furiously scribble down the financials, the retail history, and the valuations, to keep track of all the information coming at us. In the shadows, I know Dan, my husband, who is also the VP of my company, is sitting there writing everything down, too. All the sharks have someone on set who will typically take notes. We see many entrepreneurs a day, and though the TV audience sees only approximately twelve minutes of the pitch,
the pitches can run anywhere from half an hour to two hours (that’s unusually long, but it has happened). Because things go so fast and get so heated, I like reminders so I can recall in more detail everything that went on. I love reading the funny things the entrepreneurs or my fellow sharks have said. It’s so interesting, and often hilarious, to look back a few weeks later when I’m reviewing my notes, and then to see it air on TV, when it comes to life all over again.
I work hard to make sure I give each pitch my full attention, especially the ones that show up last, when we are all exhausted. I concentrate, trying to ignore everything that might distract me—like the fact that it’s often freezing because the air-conditioning is so strong. Nothing matters except the people standing there, pitching their hearts out in the hope that one of us will believe their idea is worth our investment of time, effort, and money.
It’s a shame that viewers at home can’t actually feel the crackle of energy that surges through the room when an inventor strikes a deal. It’s so exciting to know that one of them will be on his or her way to a bigger journey! On the flip side, the entrepreneurs’ disappointment is crushing when they leave the tank empty-handed. But for most of them, I think the disappointment is just temporary, for the true entrepreneurs live on and see promise in another day. That’s their nature. I know the shark in me must be honest, not just because that’s what’s best for my business but also because that’s what’s best for the inventor’s business, too. Dropping out or voicing concerns and criticism about the business or product being pitched is actually the kindest thing I could do. I’m doing someone a disservice if, out of pity or sympathy, I let an inventor get by with a product I truly think will never make it. I feel it’s wiser to go back to the proverbial drawing board and try to create something new, something different, something better. Better to set your sights on the next
product, something that really will work and allow you to reach the goals that inspire most inventors to start on their entrepreneurial journey—to strike out on their own, to build a career, to support a family, to leave a legacy. In short, to achieve the American Dream. I live that dream every day, and more than anything, I want to help others achieve it, too.
For years, fans of my show and products on QVC, followers on my website and social media networks, and
supporters have been urging me to write a book. Many of them represent a fraction of the countless imaginative, creative individuals in this country who believe they have an idea that could be the next bendable straw, Q-tip, or George Foreman grill—a product so useful and practical that people might one day take its existence for granted. They usually want to know two things: how I got to where I am, and how they can get there, too. It’s great to mentor up-and-coming inventors and share what I have learned over the last seventeen years about launching products and building a business from scratch, but when I think about what I did to bring that first invention to market, and all the products that followed, I realize that the answer to those two questions is quite simple: I worked hard. Really hard. That’s what you have to do and how you become a successful inventor or entrepreneur: you work harder for it than you’ve ever worked at anything in your life.
Seventeen years ago, when I created my first product, an earring organizer, it was not because I wanted to run a multimillion-dollar conglomerate. I simply had a problem that I wanted to solve. But once I was sure I’d created the perfect solution, nothing was going to keep me from getting it onto the market so that I could help other women solve the problem, too. Whenever I hit a roadblock, I found a way around it. If I couldn’t get around it, I went under it. If going under didn’t work, I’d go over. I did
whatever it took. In return, I accomplished my goal: I got my product prototyped, marketed, sold, manufactured, and on retailers’ shelves in about four months. That is a difficult feat, but I was determined to make the holiday selling season. I wouldn’t recommend trying to rush a product out in four months. Give yourself more time.
I’m ready to teach you what I know about everything from concept to creation, manufacturing to marketing, pitching, patents, and more, but you have to be willing to put in the long hours, the nights, the weekends, and most important, your heart and soul. I can show you the road, but those fundamentals—drive, determination, and red-hot passion—must be your fuel. Do you have that fire within you? Good! For anyone not scared off by that cornerstone piece of advice, read on. I’ve got plenty more, all of it in step-by-methodical-step, all of it self-taught, including this: while the work required to become a successful inventor is greater than you could ever imagine, it’s more rewarding, too. The only regret you will ever have is that you didn’t get started sooner.
Invent It, Sell It, Bank It!
will tell you secrets about bringing products to market that you won’t hear anywhere else. It includes checklists and tangible specifics you can use as your guide. It is a book about how you can make millions with your idea. You’ll also find out how I did the same. I probably started out just like you. I had no experience running a business. I didn’t have a ton of resources. I didn’t know people in high places. I had a college degree, but I did not attend business school. In fact, I never even took a business class, my interests leaning more in a literary, cinematic, and artistic direction. Truly, I had no idea what I was doing. All I had was a great idea and the determination of twenty people put together to bring it to life. A brilliant idea doesn’t guarantee a successful invention. Rather, it’s a magical
combination of a brilliant idea, plus amazing willpower, tenacity, and a willingness to make mistakes. Mistakes are good—and essential. They teach you to be better and smarter. But we’ll get to that later.
I say I’m just like you, but inventors starting out today have many advantages that I didn’t have. When I got started in 1996, there was no Internet where I could access information. There were no forums where I could network with other entrepreneurs. No Kickstarter or Indiegogo. There was definitely no
. There were few resources available to help an inventor with no connections and a limited amount of capital. It was tough! So if I could turn my dream into reality, I know you can, too. You just have to want your dream as badly as I wanted mine.