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The Entrepreneur Factor

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That’s what Nashville entrepreneur and chef Shawn Davis had in mind when he appeared on the ABC reality show Shark Tank in May 2010. He asked the show’s sharks for an investment of $200,000 and in exchange offered a 40 percent stake in his company. The money was to be used to market a shrimp burger Davis created. It was already popular at a local level, but Davis wanted to take it to the next level. He stated his sales to date were $30,000, but was seeking more money to market his burger nationally.

Unfortunately, none of the sharks offered Davis the funding he needed. Rather than being disappointed that he didn’t get the money, Davis viewed the experience as a three-minute commercial for his product and the advertising paid off. More than a dozen investors contacted Davis after the appearance. The deal he finally decided on got him more money for less company equity than the deal he was seeking on Shark Tank. His shrimp burger is now in the frozen food section of major grocery stores all along the East Coast.

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Moms are a notoriously innovative bunch, often creating solutions and workarounds to problems they face every day. This was certainly the case for Tamara Monosoff. When her eight-month-old daughter started unrolling all of the toilet paper and stuffing it in the toilet, Monosoff began looking for a device to keep the toilet paper from unrolling. She figured it wouldn’t be difficult to find something that a parent could clip on the toilet paper that would lock the roll in place, making it impossible to unroll. Unfortunately, there was not a product on the market to fix her predicament. While buying shampoo at a beauty supply store, she saw the hair permanent rods and experienced her light bulb moment. After quite a bit of research and development, Monosoff took her design to a manufacturer inChinaand had it patented and safety tested. In the end, Monosoff’s TP Saver was sold in more than 9,000 grocery stores nationwide.

Now, eight years later, Monosoff runs MomInventors.com, a Web site that sells innovative products invented by women. Each product she sells carries the Mom Invented seal. The site also offers support for mom’s who have an idea for a marketable product and serves as a community for women looking to invent new products. Monosoff contributes regularly to Entrepreneur.com and has been featured on a variety of television programs, including The View, the Today Show, Nightly News with Tom Brokaw and Good Morning America Weekend, as well as many local news programs. Her products have also appeared in the Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, USA Today, TIME, PEOPLE and OPRAH.

Monosoff holds a doctorate in international and multicultural education from theUniversityofSan Diego. Before launching MomInventors.com, she worked as the education director for the President’s Commission on White House Fellowships during theClintonadministration. She delivers frequent talks on entrepreneurship and women in business and leadership roles.

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As you read about all these entrepreneurs who have come up with an innovative idea or product and brought that idea or product to fruition, you may be wondering what sets these successful people apart from those who aspire to be entrepreneurs, but do not succeed. There are several qualities or characteristics that all successful entrepreneurs share. The first of these is discipline. Anyone can come up with an idea, but it takes discipline to make your idea a reality.

 Entrepreneurs tend to think outside the box to come up with solutions to everyday problems. Creative thinking, along with determination to succeed are often the key to successful problem solving. Although many entrepreneurs’ businesses start out as a hobby or passion, it is important to take your business seriously. While it is great to be able to love your job or business, it’s also important that you manage your finances and resources appropriately and make wise business decisions if you want your startup business to succeed.

 If you have these qualities and have developed an innovative new product or service, it may be time to think about turning your passion or hobby into a business.

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