Got a Million-Dollar Idea? | NBC Southern California

Got a Million-Dollar Idea?

Turning your problems into solutions worth millions: a lesson for female entrepreneurs

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    NEWSLETTERS

    The most ingenious inventions are borne out of problems.

    "There has to be a better way," said Susan Ladua's mother as she applied hair color to her roots at home.

    Aiming it at just the roots is a challenge -- too much, and you're over processing already colored hair. Too little, and you're missing patches, especially in the back where you can't see.

    That's how Roots Only was born: a comb that's an applicator. And now, for $5, you can buy one at Walmart. And Susan Ladua has a million-dollar business.

    Less than a year ago, she entered a contest called "Make Mine a Million," by the non-profit group "Count Me In," which helps women grow their businesses into million-dollar cash cows.

    "A lot of us walk around secretly thinking, I could do that. And here's the opportunity to do it," says Count Me In's Nell Merlino.

    She says more than 10.5 million American women have businesses, but 70 percent of those businesses are at $50,000 or less in revenue.

    Common pitfalls for women in business?

    "The biggest, the biggest thing we see is," says Merlino, "they believe they have to do everything themselves."

    No. 2? Merlino says, reluctance to pay attention to your financials, and let go of what's not working.

    "Sometimes people will have a range of products and they love a product, but the thing that's making them money are the other products so maybe you've got to give up on that thing you love and push the other ones," she says.

    Third, is the self-defeating concept that if you grow your business, you'll have to work that much harder, and you're already giving it all you have.

    "It's very counterintuitive," says Merlino. "You think if it's bigger, I got to work more and I can't work any more you know, so it gets bigger, you have more people you don't have to kill yourself to make money."

    Winning the "Make Mine a Million" contest has done wonders for Roots Only. Ladua says it's grown its revenue 55 percent in just 11 months.

    For information on the next "Make Mine a Million" contest and other resources to help build your business, click here.