When Lara OâConnor Hodgson came up with a unique idea for Nourish Baby–a ready-to-serve baby bottle that comes with pre-measured purified water and a baby nipple top–along with Nourish Toddler, a spill-proof water bottle for toddlers, she shared the idea with her friend Stacey Abrams, who looked at it from a different perspective and added other possibilities to monetize the product.
âWhen people come up with an idea, they are usually so afraid that someone is going to steal it that they donât share it with anybody,â says Lara OâConnor Hodgson. âThey are stopping themselves before they get started. If you donât tell somebody, they canât help you with it.â
Lara invited Stacey to patent the idea together and bring it to market. Together the team realized that their partnership ultimately was the key to their success. When inventing with a partner, you give up some control and ownership, but the benefits outweigh the risks as long as you lay out your principles early in the partnership, says Hodgson. Here are four partner principles that Abrams and Hodgson used during the invention process of their products.
1)Â Â Â Life comes first. âLara has a son and a husband, and we [understand that], no matter what, we both had lives before we became friends and business partners,â says Abrams, who serves as the State Representative for District 84 in the Georgia House. âThat wasnât going to end because we [now] have a common objective.â
2)Â Â Â Respect each other’s strengths. âIf you have a common understanding of your similarities and your differences, that makes all the difference in the world,â says Abrams. âWhile we are both hyper-competitive people, we donât compete with each other. Iâm a politician but Iâm a reluctant talker. I donât try to pretend to be the salesperson. That is Laraâs great strength. I donât compete with Lara in that space and she respects the fact that writing is something I love and am really effective at. If everyone knows where they fit and they respect each other’s roles, that is what makes a partnership work.
3)Â Â Be frank with one another. Sometimes inventors get so attached to their design that they shut out input. A partner who thinks differently from you will help you see the flaws in the design.Â âWe challenged each other to step back and think about the product,â says Hodgson, who is an aerospace engineer. In addition, the co-inventors decided not to ignore the awkward conversations about money, time, and disappointment, says Abrams. âWe are obligated to tell the other person what is going on. If you donât have the debate, you donât get to the best answer.â Donât let disagreements change your commitment toward working together.
4)Â Â Â Have a ‘Yes! But âŠ’ attitude. That means you need to believe âYes! We can do this! But, first, what do we need to do in order to make that come true. Sometimes one partner will be raring to go and want everything done right away, but the other partner wants to take a wait and see attitude. Both approaches are important to have in a partnership, says Abrams.Â âIf you donât have a âYes! But …â approach, you will make a wonderful product that nobody can buy because you became overwhelmed and promised but couldnât deliver.â A good partner helps you find a balance between passion and caution.
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