How I Created My First Physical Product to Sell Online

I am often asked this question:

“How did you created your first product, or even got the idea for your business?”

My entrepreneur story goes back to the days when I was working as an environmental consultant before I even thought about creating my first physical product. Every day I was around other scientists and studied the geology of different properties and areas trying to find the best way to assess and clean up spills of harmful chemicals from our soil and groundwater. When I met new people they were always surprised to hear me say that I am a geologist. The field of geology is still dominated by men, but the number of women is on the rise and I hope that I am a small part of that with my business, Mini Me Geology.

How I Got the Idea for My Business

The idea for my business and my first physical product did not appear right away during my career. The spark of an idea happened one day when my oldest child was in kindergarten. The parents were asked to talk to the kids about what they did for a living and I was concerned that none of the kids would understand what environmental consultant did daily. Collecting samples, reviewing lab data and writing reports are not tasks that you can easily explain, or make sound exciting, to a bunch of five-year-olds.

I could see the presentation flopping in my mind:

Me: Typically an environment consultant helps businesses and property owners comply with environmental laws and we make sure that if chemicals are spilled into the ground there either cleaned up properly or monitored over time.

Kids: Snore…..Zzzzzzz. BOOOORING!

Instead, I dug into some of my storage boxes and found a bunch of rock and mineral samples that had collected during my college field trips. Then, I went to one of the local rock and mineral shops, bought samples of a few different minerals and made goodie bags for each of the kids. When I spoke on parent’s day, I told the kids how a geologist studies rocks and minerals, showed them the samples from my college trips and gave them each a goodie bag. I was really surprised to see how much the kids loved to hear about and see the rocks and minerals and they all enjoyed taking home their crystals.

My son and his classmates were so enthusiastic about the rock samples that I went to the store to buy a kit for my son to use at home. However, I was disappointed with what I found in the marketplace. At the time, there were only a few companies that made geology kits and I was disappointed in the size of their samples and the quality of the included information. Some of the kits used the same information booklets but many of the samples in the booklet were not in the kits, which disappointed my kids. I knew that I could create physical geology kits that had better samples with appropriate information for kids to help them learn about the samples while having fun at the same time. For kids, fun and science should go hand-in-hand.

How I Developed My First Physical Product

After I got the idea to make the rock and mineral kits, the beginning of the business consisted of a lot of research trying to figure out what kind of boxes I wanted to use, where to get all of the samples for the kits, researching different ways to sell the products and learning how to market, and developing the educational material that I would include.

Interestingly most people think that the hardest part of starting a business is learning the technology behind starting a website or figuring out how to take product pictures, but I found it the hardest part of starting my business was finding the rock suppliers that I needed. The second hardest part was finding the boxes to store the rocks. I knew that I wanted plastic boxes with compartments, but could not figure out who made them. I did know that it was the same plastic that Hasbro uses to make their Mr. Potato Head boxes. So, I decided just to call and ask them but they would not tell me! Luckily a friend of mine is a big fisherman and he told me what I was looking for was a fishing tackle box. The moral of the story is that you never know where your information is going to come from, so if one person is not able to help you then just keep asking questions until you find the answers you need.

The result of all of my months of work was the final release of Mini Me Geology’s Deluxe Rock and Mineral Kits. This product is a series of four kits that feature minerals, igneous rocks, sedimentary rocks, and. metamorphic rocks.

Keep Pushing Forward with Your Business Idea

So what I want you to learn from my story is that it is not uncommon to spend weeks or months to develop your first product. The first one is always the most difficult and your second and third product will be much easier not only because you know the process, but because you have resources and information that you have learned along the way.

So keep searching for your product idea and finding answers to all of your questions. If there is anything that I can answer for you along the way, just hit me up in the comments or send me an email and I’ll see what I can do to help.

About Tracy Diane Jones

Born and raised in Princeton, West Virginia, I love rocks and minerals, writing fiction & non-fiction, running, and swimming!
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