When asked to write a blog on Innovation/Innovator, my first thought was how does Webster’s define it?
noun | in·no·va·tion | ˌi-nə-ˈvā-shən:
A new method, idea, product, etc.
A person who introduces new methods, ideas, products, etc. or makes changes in anything already established.
After thinking about this I would like to share a little bit of my story of being an innovator and an entrepreneur. All companies start from either a great idea or a necessity.
Innovator and entrepreneur–Global Medical Foam, Inc. is a bit of both.
My terminally ill husband had a rare form of terminal thyroid cancer that metastasized to his spinal cord with 13 tumors that were very painful for him. Using the skills I had acquired in nursing school, I was determined to not let him develop a pressure ulcer (bed sore). I developed a product to help with off-loading (keeping body weight off) the tumors and the doctors and nurses loved it. Fortunately, I had a great idea, but now the challenge was in figuring out what to do with it!
I had managed to wrap up the intellectual property I generated while developing the product and I had identified sources for all my materials. However, I didn’t have a clue as to how to start a company, make and handle inventory, market the product, and meet payroll. In a nutshell I stepped off the deep end and formed Global Medical Foam, Inc.
Without any formal training in product development, I researched cushioning materials, identified a grade of polyurethane foam suitable for the project, and experimented with ways of making it even softer by creating “fingers” in the foam with deep peaks and valleys to aid in proper positioning. I was able to produce several of the devices that were used on my husband as well as some other patients in similar circumstances. Fortunately, I had the presence of mind to also patent the design features of my device.
One of the assets that I brought into my own company was passion and a voracious appetite for information. I was growing organically, totally on my own.
The banks didn’t want to give me a business loan.
What did I know about business?
I needed to mortgage the house, which is what I did because I believed in what I was doing, and I had a passion to help people. I asked lots of questions of lots of people in the medical field and other business owners:
- How to handle patent attorneys
- How to manage cash flow
- How to build inventory and manage it
- Who to target for sales of my product
- Methods of distribution
These are just a few of the categories that I was able to wrap my arms around and begin to grow. I found myself filling the role of CEO, COO, CFO and everything else down to the housekeeping. Yet, I was able to expand my product line to an excess of over fifty different sku’s. I also did all the marketing and found success in Ohio nursing homes, long term care facilities and rehabilitation centers. We now sell to the Cleveland Clinic, and was asked if we could ship our products to the Cleveland Clinic in Dubai!
Recognized for innovation.
The Cleveland Clinic Wound Care Team submitted Global Medical Foam, Inc for the NAWBO Innovative Visionary Award in 2014.
You know you are a successful innovator/entrepreneur when you present your thoughts or ideas to someone and they say “Why didn’t I think of that?” you then know you are a innovator. The meaning of Innovation to me is exactly what Webster’s describes it as, but in addition; I believe innovation is in the everyday life things. We are innovators every day.
All the things mentioned previously are about innovation, however, after being widowed for 20 years I found a soul mate, Larry my fiancé, my love. I never believed I could love so deeply.
Heartbreak and innovation.
Then, Feb. 2, 2015 just over a year ago Larry had a massive heart attack at the end of our driveway and passed away.
I was devastated. I checked out for 3 months, unable to go to work, to be innovative, or face the world again.
What I learned through all of this was that I had built a business that had sustained itself without me being there for 3 months and I had been blessed with a wonderful staff who loved me and loved what they were doing. THEY kept the business running that I had built.
When I think and feel the words—innovation, innovative, innovator—I think of how I had to be all those things within myself to bring myself back around to the innovation that developed Global Medial Foam, Inc. It has been a journey of a lifetime. We have been featured in:
- Columbus Dispatch
- Columbus CEO Magazine
- Ostomy Wound Management
- Innovation Visionary Award News Letter
- Mansfield News Journal
- Richland Area Chamber of Commerce Newsletter
- Small Business of the Year Award Entrepreneurial Category
We are all innovative/innovators, we just need to sit back and analyze that word within ourselves. The reality of life is that you deal with your circumstances as they come to you.
“Man/Woman’s mind stretched to a new idea, never goes back to its original dimensions.” —Oliver Wendell Holmes
There are many ways to measure success but in the final analysis of life, it’s how you measure it for yourself that truly counts.