Lisa Lane is the inventor of the Rinseroo, a patented slip-on shower attachment hose, that she dreamt up while she was cleaning her shower and bathing her dog. She was filling a bucket over and thought “There has got to be a better way!”
Her success story is one that most inventors dream of, that of seeing an idea brought from concept to fruition and then on to achieve significant commercial success. She now runs the “Rinseroo” business full time and her company, Lane Innovations, is headquartered in New Jersey.
She is currently at work scaling the Rinseroo brand into thousands of retail stores nationwide and is in the process of adding line extensions in the cleaning, pet, and bathroom space. Her goal is to re-invent the way people rinse, clean, and bathe and she is well on her way to seeing her dream come to fruition.
StarCentral Magazine recently caught up with Lisa to discuss her journey as an entrepreneur and here’s what went down:
When did your entrepreneurial flair first reveal itself?
I think that most people have a bit of an entrepreneur inside of them to some extent but not everyone acts on that inner being for various reasons. This “Rinseroo-thing” wasn’t my first attempt at being an entrepreneur.
When my kids were young, I was working full-time as a pharmaceutical rep. I would go to work most days dreaming of being able to stay home with them.
At the time, the Internet was just getting up and running and Amazon was just an online bookseller. I ended up writing a couple of books about how to start a career in pharma sales and sold them online. I literally think that I was the first in the pharma sales world to do so. I had no competition. To my pleasant surprise, the books sold well and I earned enough from book sales to be able to quit my job. That was more than 20 years ago. Once you get those entrepreneur juices flowing, it’s very difficult to go back to the 9-5 world. There is nothing quite like having your own business.
How did your life look like before being an entrepreneur?
As I mentioned, I was working full-time as a pharmaceutical rep. I liked the job, but my heart was always in another place.
As an entrepreneur, what is it that motivates and drives you?
There is something really thrilling about running my own business and it’s a feeling that I don’t think I could ever experience working for someone else. When you have skin in the game and you are the master of your own destiny….that, to me, creates an inner drive that is unrivaled. That feeling of landing new customers, seeing growing sales trends, and knowing that I am the driving force behind it really gets my blood flowing. I love it.
In one word, describe your life as an entrepreneur and explain why.
Yes, that’s it…unpredictable. No two days are ever the same and, often, as the person running the company, I have to be the one who is able to wear many hats and pivot with the events of the day. Many times, that important “to do” list of the day just doesn’t play out as expected and that’s ok.
What were your top three motivations for starting your business?
One was having an “a-ha” moment. When you have that moment and realize that you could have something with mass-market appeal, you need to go for it.
A second was thinking about the “what if’s”. When you have an idea for an invention or a business, I believe that it’s natural to dream about it becoming a household name one day. When you really start to think about what that might be like, it’s thrilling. Alternatively, you may ask yourself “what if” if you never pursued it. I didn’t want to be that person who never gave it a go.
The third was hearing encouragement from others. When your friends and family think it’s a good idea and cheer you on, that helps too. One of my best friends also happens to be a patent attorney and when she gave me the green light, I was first out of the gate!
What would you say are the key elements for starting and running a successful business?
I am not sure if my advice would apply to any business, but I believe that the key to successfully bringing any good idea to market is to do your homework. In my case, I did a lot of research online and I also read books. My favorite was “The Mom Inventor’s Handbook. How to Turn Your Great Idea into the Next Big Thing” by Tara Mosonoff. By reading her book, I was able to evaluate my product’s potential. The book also helped me to understand the basics of sourcing, profit analysis, logistics, and more. I also found my engineer through her book who, in turn, helped me with design and manufacturing. I wouldn’t attempt to run any business without knowing what you are getting into first.
What are the three biggest challenges you have faced growing the business and how did you overcome them?
One of our biggest challenges was getting used to working with an overseas manufacturer. Even when you find one that you think that you can trust, there is always the potential for miscommunication. We ended up using one that our engineer had recommended which helped but still, not everything is always perfect.
Another big challenge was figuring out how to go from concept to fruition without having the experience of having done this before. Thankfully, there is a lot of good information out there if you dig and dig, I did!
The third comes with success and it’s a great thing but it’s also one that can be the most challenging of all. …how to scale. Once you have something that sells, the next question is how do you scale it successfully. We are currently in the process of scaling and so far, I think that the key is to grow it slowly. Find out what works and take one step at a time. We want to do this well and not have any regrets.
What form of marketing has worked well for your business throughout the years?
We have only been at this for a little over a year, but I think a great way to start is to attend a large trade show in your industry. I have found that this is a great way to see who your competitors are, meet face to face with buyers and do some networking. Hopefully, you can come back with some orders and take it from there.
We have also had a good amount of success reaching out to buyers on LinkedIn. This was especially helpful during Covid when people weren’t meeting in person and tradeshows were on hiatus.
As you grew the business, what have been some of the most important leaderships lessons you have learned?
I think that it is obvious to hire people who are really committed to helping your dream come to fruition. Another key would be to make them feel good about what they are doing. I have always been a believer in using all of my vacation days and I think it’s reasonable to let your employees have a nice work and personal life balance. Oh, and ALWAYS thank them for what they are doing for you……you want to keep them around.
What is the best advice you have ever been given?
That’s easy: “Work hard and be nice”. I have pajamas with that slogan on them and am reminded of its importance on a daily basis. It’s no surprise that people want to work in a place where they feel comfortable and valued. My goal is to attract great talent and keep them around for a long time.
What advice would you give to a newbie Entrepreneur setting up their first business?
I got a lot of great advice from others who had been in my shoes at one point. I found that most inventors and business owners are proud of their accomplishments and are very willing to share their insight with others. I would imagine that this rule applies no matter which industry you are in. Find others in your industry, take them out to lunch and ask them for advice. Find out what they would have done differently if they had the chance to start again and really listen and take notes…..lots of notes.