Weird Business Idea #2: “Learn From an 8 Year Old”

Makin' Bacon inventor abbey fleck

This Friday’s edition of “Weird Business Ideas” is an oldie, but a goodie. Thank you to Amber over at Teen Money Making Ideas for reminding me of this very inspiring little girl.

Back in 1993, Abbey Fleck became famous for her “Makin’ Bacon” kitchen tool. The invention was a rather nifty way to cook bacon in the microwave by standing the bacon up vertically so it wouldn’t sit in its own grease. But what made the invention more remarkable was the fact that Abbey was only 8 years old when she came up with the idea.

That little invention eventually garnered the family a distribution agreement with Wal-mart and sent Abbey to multimillionaire status.

Before you start feeling bad about having a smaller income than an 8 year old, there are a few lesson we can learn from little Abbey….

1. Great businesses solve problems

The “Makin’ Bacon” became so successful not just because it was novel, but because it solved a problem that plagued bacon lovers. Millions of bacon consumers needed a healthier way to cook bacon that didn’t leave it soaked in grease. and oil. Abbey solved that problem.

Whether your business is a service, a product, or even a blog – it needs to solve a problem for its users. It’s a rule that I even use when writing articles for The Penny Hoarder.

2. Don’t dismiss silly ideas

The “Makin’ Bacon” tool might have started off as a prototype made out of plastic coat hangers and wooden dowels, but the Fleck family knew that they had created something unique and worthy of selling.

It doesn’t matter how small or trivial your invention is as long as it follows rule #1. If you have come up with something unique than you owe it to yourself to explore whether their is a demand and a marketplace for selling your invention. Had little Abbey kept her invention all to herself, her family would have great bacon, but a middle-class income.

3. Be aggressive with your marketing

When the Flecks first took their invention to Wal-mart and K-mart and asked for a distribution deal, they were rejected. That didn’t stop the family from trying other retailers until eventually they someone willing to take a chance on Abbey’s product. The family struck a deal with the Armour bacon company, who began selling the hanging bacon rack by putting an advertisement on the back of every package of bacon.

The early endorsement from Armour made the product famous and launched Abbey to viral status. The family took advantage of the buzz by sending Abbey out on a press tour. She gave interviews to 20/20, Dateline, David Letterman, and even did an appearance on Oprah.

Oh…and shortly after the Oprah appearance, Wal-mart called Abbey in for a meeting. The rest is history.

Being initially turned down by several major retailers didn’t deter Abbey and she stayed aggressive in finding new ways to market her product. That early aggressiveness paid off and eventually led Abbey to the deal she wanted in the first place.

Good Luck Penny Hoarders!