Licensing – Sales Reps Make a Great Partner

Two heads are better than one, so if you are trying to license your idea why not get a partner – and often the best partner is a sales rep that is already in the industry. He or she will know the market, many of the major players, and what kind of deal really makes sense.For inventors, this partnership doesn’t mean you have to give an equal share to the partner, often just a 10 to 15% share will be enough if you have a “works like, looks like” prototype and a marketing plan. You might need to increase the sales reps share if you need money that he or she contributes or helps raise, but typically you will pay a modest amount to the rep for all the value they can offer you. Besides just licensing an idea straight up, the rep can help you take other steps that might be important to land a licensing deal. An example is a partnership with a manufacturer who will help design the new product, build prototypes and eventually produce the product. This can be a key tool if you are licensing to a company that outsources production and if your product is too expensive for you to produce on your own.Inventors form alliances or partnerships with sales reps because they don’t have established contacts in the industry or because either they need a partner to help foot the bill. Most inventors think they just need an idea or patent to get a license, and in some cases that works, but the next section details some of the additional steps that an inventor can take to improve their chances of landing a license and to help land a higher royalty. Sales reps can help with all of these steps. One thing to note is that it is not just the reps contacts that help you. You also receive a major boost with everyone you talk to when they realize that you have an industry professional backing your idea.Improving Your Chances of Licensing

Having a patent or patent pending. Inventor typically does this step on their own.

Finding an engineer or designer to complete design work on the invention. Sales rep typically knows industry people with the right expertise to do this and often knows contacts who might work for a percentage of the idea.

Finding a manufacturer to make the prototype and possibly set up a small production run. Again the rep may know people who can do the job, and might do it for a share of the product rather than an upfront fee.

Setting up a sales test at a key retailer or end user to get market feedback. Reps will have contacts for a wide variety of market tests.

Getting conditional purchase agreements from manufacturer sales rep agencies, other marketers, retail chains or other key target customers to prove the product is viable.

Arrange for the product to be shown at a trade show to get market feedback to show potential licensors that the product has high chance of creating strong sales.

Line up other industry people as investors or supporters of the idea.
What You Need to SucceedSales rep partners, or any other partners, look for a significant benefit when they decide to team up with an inventor. Typically, they are only interested in your product if it can increase their annual income 15 to 25%. The perfect product, from their perspectives, is one that has considerable market impact. But inventors have another card to play with sales reps. They want to differentiate themselves from all other reps who seek profitable lines from major companies. Working with inventors is a way for sales reps to increase their value in the market and make a mark for themselves in the industry. This is important for reps, and it is a key factor in why they might help you.From the inventor’s point of view, perfect products for a joint venture are ones that the inventor doesn’t have the resources to produce, or the marketing network or credibility to launch. A partnership with a rep allows inventors to move quickly to improve and finalize their products for licensing with much less financial risk. The key to success is finding the right reps to approach. Here are some other factors to consider as you investigate partnerships with a rep:

Money matters: Other than key contacts, typically the main advantage of partnership is that you get funding from your potential partner. For example, you may have identified a big market opportunity, but lack the money to create prototypes. Reps can help you with the money, or help you find an engineer or a manufacture to help you develop the product.

Protection: You don’t really need a patent to strike a partnership agreement with a rep, but it does improve your negotiating position and helps ensure that the product’s intellectual property rights belong to you.

Prototypes: Many inventors choose a partnership because they don’t have the experience or the money to finalize a “looks like, works like” prototype. But a drawing often isn’t enough to get a positive response from a potential partner. Having a prototype is important and it helps in getting a better deal from a rep. But don’t spend too much money creating a rough prototype; just take it far enough so the partner can see your product’s sales potential.

Research: You won’t have any trouble finding a partner if you uncover a product that satisfies the needs of a large market. The reps often know the market, but I feel it helps your negotiating position if you can show that you know the market is there. Your research should show that customers need and want your product, and that they’re willing to pay a reasonable price for it.
Dos and Don’ts

Don’t be greedy. The sales rep will make you a lot more money in the end so don’t be afraid to offer him or her their terms if they can do the job for you.

Do give yourself an out. Tell the rep you will offer the percentage only if they spend 20 to 40 hours every three months to help promote your idea. State that if you are unsatisfied with the effort, you will let the sales rep know you are unhappy and give him or her 60 days to rectify the situation or your agreement will be terminated.

Don’t approach a potential partner without at least some market research from target customers. Your position is more favorable if you have survey results from at least 15 to 20 potential users.

Don’t be a pain. Sales reps won’t proceed with a partnership arrangement, no matter how profitable, if you appear difficult to work with. Don’t call constantly with questions, revisions or suggestions. Limit your contacts to one or two per week where you mention major concerns.
Is a Partnership Right for You?Pros:

Allows you to introduce new products that are beyond your reach in terms of either resources or experience

Helps you gain market experience that you can use in the future

Speeds up the introduction and market penetration of a new product

Allows you to improve your odds of landing a licensing agreement

Allows you to introduce new products when you can’t afford to produce a “looks like, works like” prototype

Doesn’t give you total control of the product

Depends on another party to do their jobs effectively for the product to succeed

You can’t withdraw the product to start a company on your own

May not establish you as a market force capable of launching your own company

Your input may be overridden by the sales rep partner
Finding RepsThere are lots of reps, but you need to know how to find them. Follow the below steps and you should be able to locate plenty of reps.Trade Magazines and Trade ShowsLocate the leading trade magazines and trade shows for the industry. If possible attend the trade show, go to booths with complementary products and see if they have reps or maybe the booth is even run by reps.Subscribe to the industry trade magazines and in the new product sections, send away for information on complementary products and when you receive the sales literature, see if there are local reps names included. Talk to the rep and see if he or she knows additional reps.Trade Association WebsitesSometimes industry trade association websites have lists of reps. Gales’ Book of Associations, found at most larger libraries, and Internet searches should be enough for you to find industry trade associates.Also check out manufactures sales representatives directories such as MANA, Manufacturers Agents National Association which is available in larger libraries.Talk to Other InventorsWhen attending trade shows or other industry events, network with other inventors and ask them if they know any good reps.Prepare rep materials for a mailingHaving great materials for your rep mailing is key to success. You need to let reps know that you have a hot new product, that you are running a professional and serious business and that you are ready to do all it takes for your product and your reps to succeed.The literature should include sales flyers, picture of the prototype if you have one, stories and testimonials. You need professional looking materials so the reps know you mean business. If your mailing looks like it was put together by a fly-by-night company, it is unlikely you will attract talented and experienced reps.Sending out the mailingSend your mailing only to 10 to 15 reps to start. Then call them up and see if any of them are interested in your line. If not, check to see why they are not interested. You may need to make some changes in your package.If your first mailing didn’t go well, make changes to your package and send it to another 10 to 15 sales reps and again call them up and if they are not interested, find out why. Keep on doing this until you know you’ve got the right mailing materials. Then make a larger scale mailing to all of the reps on your list.Interviewing the repsIf a rep is interested, make sure you ask him or her a few questions to make sure that he or she is really the right rep for you. Here is what should you look for:Driven to SucceedYou want a hungry rep. Selling new products can be hard, so you want a rep that is ready to go out and give it his or her all. The best reps are ones that worked for another rep agency and then started his or her own agency and is anxious to build up sales.Successful Track RecordCheck that the rep has taken on other new lines successfully over the last two years.Impact of Your ProductThe rep needs to believe he or she can make at least $10,000 or $15,000 with your product. If they can’t make that much, it is unlikely they will support it for long.Technically QualifiedThe rep has to have the technical knowledge to properly represent your product. This doesn’t apply to all products, just ones that have a technical or scientific nature. For instance, if you have a chemical product, you need reps that can intelligently and understandably talk about how your product works and answer questions possibly of a technical nature. They don’t need to be chemists, but at least have a basic understanding.

Finding The Best Furniture For You: Domain Furniture and Mirrored Furniture

Those searching for home furnishings may wish to consider choosing pieces that have a distinct period feel to them, as this is an ideal way in which to ensure that one’s furniture will have its own original attractiveness, different from that seen in other homes. Regardless of one’s personal taste, the addition of mirrored furniture to a home is an excellent way in which to use the home’s space to its best advantage.Going Mod with Mirrored FurnitureCurrently experiencing an increase in popularity in the home interiors market, mirrored furniture is a great choice when one wishes to make his or her home truly unique. Such furniture is also an excellent way in which a feeling of spaciousness can be added to the room. Whether one chooses mirrored consoles or dressing tables, he or she will find that such items fit well into any room’s decor.In order to make certain that one’s home will still look modern even when vintage pieces are used, he or she should choose neutral, rather than bright colors. In this way a seamless look can be created through the blending of both old and new pieces.Distressed Furniture–Decorating Shabby ChicAnother popular trend in home decor is the look of shabby chic. Pieces that fit into this category have a worn and aged look and the colors and shapes are often reflective of the past. This result of this look is a welcoming and informal appearance that both the homeowner and his or her visitors will enjoy.The addition of regency furniture is a nice way in which this look can be updated, and since classic furniture never go out of style, there are many options from which one can choose when selecting these types of pieces.Incorporating furniture styles from various periods into a modern home is a great way to add a personal touch and a unique flair to any room in one’s home. If a person finds that he or she cannot afford new furniture or authentic antiques, contemporary reproductions are a great cost-effective alternative.Domain furniture is a popular retailer that has been in business since nineteen eighty-two. It is now at the top of the market, since it sells various styles in both commercial and personal. New, stylish designs in every price range can be found at both outlets and retail stores. You also have the option of choosing between simple and extravagant. You can even get personal designs made to suit your space and budget requirements. Whatever your needs, whether commercial or personal, Domain furniture offers something for you.Sun-Room FurnishingsSun rooms are common in the south, but are rapidly becoming more so everywhere else. Domain offers such a wide variety of styles, colors, and prices that each and every buyer is sure to find something appropriate to them. There are material options which include wrought iron, raw wood, panacea and timber. Wicker is also a popular choice in indoor/outdoor furniture. Along with the choice in material, the buyer has options on how, and where, to buy. Besides going to a retail store, there are outlets that offer domain furniture. If your tastes run further from stores, you can also go onto their website or order from a catalog. domain produces sunroom furniture that is durable, reliable, and beautiful. You are sure to find the perfect balance between functionality and art.ExclusiveIf you desire something more unique than you can easily get at a store, domain offers exclusive furniture. For some, the option of designing their own furniture outweighs the slightly higher price that goes with it. If space is an issue, you can find people to help you choose furniture that will fit perfectly inside the space you have available. Domain offers full service help along with the do-it-yourself way.

Health and Wellness Are About Embracing Your Life

Health and wellness are a lifestyle choice, not a diet, but to achieve it, you need to make a decision to change the way you look at yourself in every moment: who you think you are, your place in this world, and how you choose to take care of yourself. The choices you make about health and wellness are likely to be some of the most important decisions in your life. The three basic components of health and wellness are education, prevention and intervention. Health and wellness are key elements in the full experience of happiness. Wellness, on the other hand, is defined as the overall process of maintaining a general state of good health.HealthWe all want to live long healthy lives, but at times, don’t take care of ourselves like we need to. It is important to remember the role of natural healing, whole nutrition, complementary and alternative therapies, and ancient practices that have been helping people achieve greater physical and mental health for centuries. Healthy behaviors are most effective when practiced for a lifetime. Health, wellness, and fitness are influenced by the aging of our population. Physical activity is critical to the development and maintenance of good health. Good physical fitness is important, but it is not the same as physical health and wellness.FitnessEvery moment is an opportunity for you to enjoy living when you choose health and wellness through fitness in harmony with the life you currently live. By learning to develop sustainable fitness habits you can fully enjoy your life. Now more than ever people are in need of professional guidance toward improved fitness and health. With hundreds of fitness and recreation opportunities offered around the city, you’re guaranteed to find a place you belong. You can exercise in the privacy of your own home with a fitness program suited for you. The health-related components of physical fitness are directly associated with good health.NutritionWithout the right nutrition and lifestyle, which are “good” choices, our bodies age faster and become weakened and diseased. Nutrition is the basic, essential process of nourishing or being nourished, especially the process through which a living body assimilates food and uses it for growth and for replacement of tissues. Nutrition is in fact one of the cornerstones of good health for all. Nutrition is an important consideration regardless of age but choosing vitamins and minerals for kids is especially important as they are still growing.SupplementsIn addition to a healthy diet, many healthcare providers will encourage supplements to increase the probability that you get all the nutrients you need. Supplements not only help the body physically to heal, but the proper supplements can change your emotional well-being. Whether a person is looking to balance their diet with the right nutrition content, they’re interested in adopting a smart, but healthy low carb meal plan or they want to add nutritional supplements into their everyday routine, there are good ways to go about those prospects and bad ones. Following suggested use for diets and nutritional supplements can result in great benefits for the body and overall health. Plus, there are wonderful nutrition vitamins and nutritional supplements that can fill in where diet falls short.ConclusionGood health and wellness are not a luxury but an essential for people everywhere to reach their life’s potential. The secrets to health and wellness are simple: good life style and wholesome diet choices; sufficient rest, exercise, and good water; conscientiously practicing your faith; and spending time with friends and family who love and support you in healthy ways.

Automotive Property Finance – A Current Look

Borrowers purchasing or refinancing an automotive service property (repair, gas station, oil change, etc) will face limited options compared to just 3-6 months ago. As the residential subprime mess continues to seep into all markets, innovative and creative options have either gone into “hibernation” or have been tighten to the point that only the strongest qualify.In terms of what is still readily available for automotive borrowers – think SBA 504, SBA 7a (there are fixed rate options available and you can use this to refinance), and 30 year fixed.SBA 504Created only for purchases, borrower can still expect 85% financing on both straight purchases and or construction/rehab loans. The main benefit to this program include the high leverage and that the rate can be fixed for as long as 5, 7, 10 and a few lenders offer 25 year fixed rates. Also rates are normally very competitive. For example, currently (April 2008) borrowers can expect a blended rate in the high 6′s.Despite what many borrowers believe the SBA process has been greatly improved and borrowers can realistically expect their loan to close in 45 – 60 days, on par with all commercial mortgages.SBA 7aWhile the 504 program is geared generally for loans in the $2,000,000 – $7,000,000 range, the SBA 7a program is geared for smaller loans with a little more “hair”. Borrowers can use projections rather than just historically financials to qualify. Debt coverage ratios can be as low as 1.1 and 90% financing is available on both purchases and refinances for most automotive properties.The most common objections to the 7a programs are 1. The program normally comes with a floating rate and 2. The SBA guarantee fee of 2.75% of the loan amount is too expensive. However it’s critical that the borrower realize that the terms of the loan are negotiable. There are 2 national banks that we work with for example, that structure this loan as a 5 year fixed and the banks pay for the guarantee fee in order to win over deals for most borrowers.30 Year FixedThis creative loan was widely available for automotive borrowers/properties just 5 months ago, but has become restricted. Refinances are now capped at 70% loan to value and cash out refinances are capped at 65% Borrower credit scores need to be at least 680 and financials need to reflect a 1.25 minimum. In addition properties older than 10 years will have a tough time getting closed.Despite the challenges, the 30 year fixed option is a strong program and worthwhile for the borrower to investigate if they like the idea of having long term fixed rate financing.