Launching a small business or startup company is always an uphill battle. The deck is stacked against you. Between finding a market, lack of influence, and little funding, there can seem to be an infinite number of hurdles that you have to overcome. But after you launch and are successful then you have all the experience to do it again, right?
Mike Suman, a West Michigan inventor with over 50 patents, has been through the process before. He is familiar with launching a business and growing it from an idea to being sustainable. Even this far into his career he still hits road blocks. In attempting to obtain licensing from Major League Baseball, Suman was denied because he didn’t have a brick and mortar business with employees, and MLB has already licensed lots of other wallets.
Suman pushed back against the ruling and fought to obtain the licensing that his business needed. After 30 weeks, Suman finally was given licensing rights but that was just the beginning. Suman was given lists of hundreds of retailers that he needed to contact in order to sell his MLB licensed product. Most of these retailers showed little to know interest because selling Suman’s product doesn’t benefit them a lot.
Suman sought out the input of those with knowledge. He went to a Las Vegas trade show with over 150 MLB suppliers. Suman went booth to booth asking for information from the other retailers. He found that some were willing take him under their wing and guide him around the same mistakes that they ran into when they first gained their licensing.
Your Grand Rapids small business might not be having similar issues to those Suman’s business but every business has something they would like to be different. Suman, a business savvy individual, had to battle to gain licensing and even then he knew he needed more help. Realizing that you cannot do everything yourself is imperative to you small business or startup.
My small business clients often times will say, “I would have never thought of that.” My clients are great at what they do and are very intelligent. But they are not business attorney’s and while they can probably handle some of the services are firm provides, it is those things that they would have never thought about that make the difference. The same can be said for other professionals that provide services to businesses. The biggest issue is you, the small business owner, needs to ask for help.
Source: “How Grand Rapids inventor convinced Detroit Tigers to sell his product” by Shandra Martinez of MLive.com