My Comfort Zone

Martha Van Inwegen, Action Wipes from Doug MacMillan on Vimeo.

As a small business owner, I constantly have to step out of my comfort zone, which makes me uncomfortable! Very uncomfortable.

My friends and family think I’m an extrovert and that getting in front of people just comes naturally to me – but it doesn’t, honestly. It takes every ounce of courage I can muster to approach a complete stranger and ask if they would like to try our Action Wipes. When we go to events and people start making their way towards our booth, my stomach does summersaults and my coffee starts coming up my throat just watching them walking our way. When I won the Shorty Award for Brand last year and had to go in front of some 300 people and thousands more watching via the web to give my 140 character speech – I was so scared, I almost didn’t make it to the stage because I shaking in my boots so hard (ok, I wore sandals).

So now that you know this about me, you’ll laugh when I tell you that I seriously considered participating in ABC’s Shark Tank. Yes, a show with millions of viewer’s nation wide! I have to tell you, I was sick to my stomach just creating the five minute video required to be considered. But I submitted it non-the-less. So imagine my surprise when they called and told me they loved it and wanted to move forward. Man, I had just about puked and even cried on that demo tape – how could they possible want me?! However, I passed on the opportunity – not out of fear, but out of what I believe is smart business sense. After reading the 40 page contract and them not willing to accept changes, I decided there was no way I could sign it.

As uncomfortable as it makes me, I am always looking for opportunities that will help promote Action Wipes, or at minimum, put them in front of people that can help me. So, here’s another opportunity for you to laugh at me again… I recently entered a contest to win a free infomercial at the Locker2Locker Pitch Maker Contest, in conjunction with the 2010 Professional Athletes Business Summit. For the contest, entrepreneurs submitted their product, or idea in the hopes of being one of 20 finalist chosen to present to a distinguished panel and in front of over 100 professional athletes. Guess what? We made the final 20. GULP.

I am now sitting in Oakland, waiting to take the Bart to the San Francisco airport to catch a red-eye to Hollywood. Florida. Since the day I found out, my stomach has been in knots. The closer it gets to stepping on that plane, the more I can feel my early morning breakfast coming back up. What makes it more nerve wrecking is that - ironically, the deciding panel is being lead by Kevin Harrington – one of the sharks on Shark Tank. OMG!

My sister once asked me “how do you do it - so easily approach people and start talking to them or pitch your product?” “I have to, my business will not grow if I live my life in fear and hope people will find us by chance” I said. “I could never do what you do” she said.

If you want to have a successfull company, you have to put yourself out there, you have to keep putting one foot in front of the other - but know that one day your perseverance, the nervous sweat and even making a fool out of yourself will pay off. I believe it - that's why I do it!

Co-Opetition: It's a good thing!

Since the invention of baby wipes in 1970 there's been an immense surge of wet wipes on a global level - GLOBAL.

These days, you can find a wipe for just about every household chore and every body part...

Besides the familiar baby wipes, there's wipes to clean cell phones, clean floor and kitchen counters, antistatic wipes to clean your computer screen, antiseptic wipes to clean your hands, cosmetic wipes to remove your makeup, specialty wipes that prevent goggles from fogging, self tanning wipes, before or after sex wipes, and of course, wipes for when you can't shower.

While big corporations (Kimberly Clark & Clorox) hold the largest share of the market, there are some small, creative companies that are breaking into that share with some very cool ideas. Some are in direct competition with Action Wipes and others are what I consider "Co-Opetition". Co-Opetition is when a brand competes with Action Wipes for the consumer dollar, but actually compliments it at the same time.

I decided to write this post as many of our fans have discovered these unique wipes one way or another (more often than not, via Twitter) and ask... "Hey, have you seen these?" So let me, show you, how you can use these unique wipes together with Action Wipes...

Purpose: Cleaning Cell Phone
Hate the gunk that builds up on your cell phone over time? Or have you ever thought about the germs left behind when someone else "borrows" your phone? Then Celly Smellys are what you need to clean both gunk & germs off without doing damage to the phone. Now, if that call you received got you all hot and sweaty, then use an Action Wipes too! Celly Smellys are sized 4"x7", are LCD safe, come in multi-packs of 15, four (4) fun scents to choose from and cost about .33 cents each.

Purpose: Degreasing Hands
There are times when Action Wipes are just too big for the job -like when you just want to clean your hands after changing a flat tire, or slipping the chain back on your bike, that's where Grease Monkey Wipes come in handy. Like Action Wipes, they are individually wrapped, so they are convenient and easy to carry in your purse, tool kit or store a couple with your spare tire. Now, if you spent a little too much time changing that tire and you find you need a shower too - then by all means followup with an Action Wipe! Grease Monkey Wipes are sized 8"x7", citrus scent and cost about $1.00 each.

Purpose: Refresh
You know how you can get that refreshing spa scent at home? By hanging an Herban Essentials towelette from the shower head while you shower. The steam helps the essential oils drift through the room just like in a spa. They're also great for when you just need a little refreshing. Unlike Action Wipes, they do not contain any cleansing agents. If you need to clean off the stinky sweat scent - use Action Wipes. Herban Essentials are sized 4.75"x7.5", come in five (5) different scents and cost about .75 cents each.

Purpose: Cleaning
Don't like any kind of scents? Then try Wysi Wipe, a dry, compact (3/4") wipe that expands as you add water. Wysi Wipe contain no wetting solution, scent or cleansing agents, so they're good at wiping off sweat, but not the odor. To clean off the odor - use Action Wipes. Wysi Wipe comes as a small tablet that expands to 9"x10" soft wipe after adding water and costs about .21 cents per tablet.

I hope this helped you understand the differences. If you have a favorite wipe that compliments Action Wipes, tell us about it and we'll spread the word.

And remember... Your face is not a baby's butt!