They’re all sending out a rally cry, inviting moms to submit their new product ideas for a chance at hitting it big. Typically these contests choose one winner whose invention or product gets bankrolled by the company, paying the mom a cash prize plus a portion of the royalties. In the case of Walmart.com’s “Get on the Shelf” competition, the winning three products will be sold in select Walmart stores across the country.
Cool, right? Yeah, kinda.
But here’s where these contests leave me cold. The #1 sentiment I hear from moms from Toledo to Tacoma is that they have too much stuff and not enough time. Their worlds aren’t in need of one new-fangled gadget to bring happiness and balance. In fact, researchers at UCLA’s Center on Everyday Lives and Families (CELF) report that clutter in the home can trigger depression. And no one has more clutter than American families.
Yet these contests fuel the notion that the highest calling for mompreneurship is to invent something. I checked in with Patty Lennon, Founder of Mom Gets a Life, to see how she coaches women looking to start businesses from home. Here’s what she said:
“It is so important for moms or anyone to go into product creation with their eyes open. When I’m working with a client I ensure she’s researched obtaining a trademark and patents, understands the cost to bring product to market, knows the start-up costs with producing a tangible product and the marketing and sales costs that follow. Once a mom has reviewed what it takes, many find that a service-based product is much easier to manage, cheaper to start up and also far more fulfilling.”
Let’s think beyond the SKU
Many moms have inspired ideas for making life better for families. They’re creating community or mobilizing social change or teaching other moms how to cook or garden or whip their resumes back into shape. These are the true champions.
Here’s what I’d love: for a bold brand to invite moms to enter a zero-footprint contest. What can a mother dream up for a better world that doesn’t fire up smokestacks and litter our planet with more junk?