All In One Year:
In part one of this blog, Happy Anniversary Spontaneous Speech, I gave a brief chronology of events that led to the creation of this company and this product. I'll pick up where I left off...the boxes of flashcards had completed their trip from Hong Kong to Corpus Christi, Texas and were stacked in my living room.
Now that the product had arrived, it was time for the next phase: introduce Pictures for Progress to the world! ASHA's Healthcare and Business Institute in Phoenix, Arizona was going to be the perfect place to debut the cards. The conference was scheduled for July 7th-9th, so that gave us about a month to prepare.
Getting ready for Phoenix was fun and required a tremendous amount of creative brain power. We collected items to decorate the booth we would have in the vendor's area and designed a pair of banners. My mom and daughter helped me make these mock ups. (You'll see the finished products just below.) I ordered Spontaneous Speech pencils and magnetic bookmarks to give away at the conference. Without a doubt, I was doing things I had never done before, and I loved it!
Somehow, everything was completed according to schedule, and we packed the car and took off for Phoenix. I believe it was 12 hours of driving the first day and 6 hours of driving the next, but I didn't mind. My mom is the best co pilot in the world, and I loved the desert scenery.
The evening we arrived in Phoenix, we raced over to the Convention Center to set up our booth. We had a selfie station tucked behind those beautiful banners. Check out those pineapple sunglasses...hilarious!
We were thrilled to receive so much positive feedback about the product, and one thing was clear: speech pathologists love a great set of flashcards! We sold our first boxes! Success!
It took the rest of the month of July and all of August to recover from the non-stop activity that had been going on. I was pooped and needed to regroup.
In October, I was the featured success story on the cover of Small Business 360. It was a boost I really needed. (By the way, I probably have 360 copies of that magazine...if you want one... just let me know.) My business adviser at DelMar College's Small Business Development Center was so proud of me. If they haven't already, she said they will hang my picture and my story on their Wall of Fame.
Re-energized and feeling accomplished, the week after Thanksgiving, I rallied the troops and we took off to Denver, Colorado. We were headed to ASHA's National Convention. It was just like the Willie Nelson song... we were on the road again. The scenery was beautiful but not too much snow here. Come to find out, a massive blizzard hit Colorado the very next day.
We re-assembled our booth and spent three non-stop days talking to people about Pictures for Progress. I heard there were about 16,000 SLPs and Audiologists at the convention. It was exhausting but it was fun!
FYI: if anyone ever offers you a gluten free chocolate chip cookie...just say NO!
After the conference, we had some good momentum going, and internet orders started coming in. Because it's still a home based business, I carefully wrap, stuff, label and mail the boxes myself. It's so much fun to send my boxes out into the world!
During the ASHA convention in November, I received an invitation to partner with AliMed, a leading provider of medical and healthcare products. Having my products in an AliMed catalog was a long term goal, so I was thrilled! I began the process of becoming a supplier.
You may be wondering, "What's so special about AliMed?" Simple... they market to all segments of the healthcare industry: hospitals, clinics, nursing homes, long-term care facilities, private medical practices, therapists and more. Partnering with AliMed offers tremendous exposure for Spontaneous Speech.
In the meantime, thanks to my translator and graphic designer, the Spanish translations of Pictures for Progress were ready at the middle of March. It was perfect timing because we were about to hit the road... AGAIN!
This time, I met my marketing team/ fan club at TSHA's Annual Convention in Fort Worth, Texas. What a terrific way to spend Spring Break 2016! It was two great days of meeting, greeting and networking with SLPs.
In June, I was accepted into the Pre-Incubation Program at Texas A&M University's Coastal Bend Business Innovation Center. As a member of this incredible group, I meet with business advisers once a week for nine weeks. Together, they help us examine our business concept, explore business development, create marketing strategies, discuss business financials and consider current and future operations for our businesses. They challenge us to look at the big picture and think long term.
Participating in this program has changed the way I think of my business. It's allowing me to shape Spontaneous Speech into even more than I had ever imagined. Big changes are in store! So, stay tuned and I'll keep you posted as details are available.
Every small achievement will soon be one amazing success.