How to Invent a Simple Product and Quit Your Job.
Someone wants to interview me? I’m just a guy that’s been struggling for 45 years. Those were my thoughts when I was asked to be interviewed on one of my favorite podcasts.
So I wrote this summary for myself in order to try to figure out what I could talk about and why anybody might possibly give a shit about me.
After going through a couple of jobs after college, I started to realize that I’m not inspired by working for the man. My entrepreneurial career started with an e-commerce business in 1999 called Dee’s Nuts. It was even stupider than it sounds. When that and several other things didn’t work out, I figured I must not have what it takes to cut it on my own.
I reasoned to myself that you must need to be a natural smooth talking confident type like my dad to make it in business — not an introverted artist like myself. So I gave up. I got a JOB and tried to become normal.
When that inevitably got boring, I got caught up into poker for ten years (mostly online poker) — pretty much all day every day. How I won a million dollars and it ruined my life (links below). I hit a low point and realized I had no modern career skills and absolutely zero ideas — because I had spent the previous 10 years thinking about nothing but poker.
One day I was listening to Dave Ramsey and trying to figure out how not to be broke. I heard him tell a guy “Read 20 books and you’ll be in a different place.” He didn’t specify the books but I knew he must be right. I started listening to any book I could find on YouTube. The Power of Now helped cure my soul, the 4 Hour Workweek gave me the inspiration and framework to build on with the hundreds of audio-books I listened to while I continued to toil at my dead end job — resisting the urge to hop on the poker website to try to win a few bucks.
Among the many new habits that I forced upon myself, I began writing down 10 ideas every single day — per the advice of James Altucher. One of those ideas was Lazy Leash. I signed up for Steven Key’s invention licensing course to try to license the idea. But nobody gave me the time of day. I thought it might be within the realm of possibilities that this could be just another one of my dumb ideas. So I built a website for the product (that didn’t exist) and asked the programmer to include a click counter and email capture to track visitors. When I ran Google ads for the product and people started entering their emails I knew I was going to have to figure out how to manufacture it myself — which became a 5 year nightmare. Failure after failure. I worked with 4 different engineers and went through dozens of broken prototypes, wasted moldings and a lot of money.
During this time I was having a huge fight with the cable company. They had done several things that pissed me off and I hated them. I even called a few attorneys to see if I could sue them just out of spite. Then AT&T showed up one day and planted a giant green shaft in my front yard. I temporarily lost my mind and decided to make a revenge product to get back at them — Bushy Box.
That turned out to be another dumb idea. I realized that I’d gotten myself in the smallest niche in the world with this product, so I came up with eleven other uses for hollow logs and marketed them as separate products. After two more years of experiments and failures I was able to turn Bushy Box into a real business.
About this time we finally figured out the mechanics of manufacturing the strong and high quality Lazy Leash that I’ve been envisioning for so long. We created a Kickstarter campaign — which was unsuccessful because I didn’t know what I was doing. Turns out luckily because now we have a dedicated group of Amazon customers because they followed our story through Kickstarter and are excited about the product.
So in five years I went from zero ideas and no idea about anything business related to running two companies from my home in Mount Pleasant, SC. It wasn't easy, but anyone can do it if they are determined to change their life and won't quit when things get difficult.
In conclusion, this is the method I used to invent a simple product and quit my job.
* This isn’t the best method. But it doesn't have to be this difficult if you can learn from my mistakes.
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