Get Advice from the Right People

The story of Joy Mangano was recently a major motion picture starring Jennifer Lawrence as Joy and Robert DeNiro as Joy’s dad, among other prominent stars. The story takes place in 1994 – 1995, a time when women were just breaking into the self-employment market with gusto. Joy invented the Miracle Mop, still sold today on Home Shopping Network, as well as many other useful household items.

There are some very important lessons to be learned from Joy’s journey to Home Shopping stardom. Most notably, the need to get the right advice from the right people, and be careful what advice you take from family members who may be well-intentioned but not very knowledgeable about the subject matter.

Or, having family members act “on your behalf” because you didn’t think to have a contract with your supplier that spelled out who has authority over decisions in your business. By paying off a disputed debt, Joy’s sister thought she was helping but actually took away the one piece of leverage Joy had against a corrupt supplier.

Joy first and foremost needed a good lawyer – the family lawyer she used on step-mom’s advice was good with retail but knew nothing about patents, which almost cost Joy her entire home and invention. She would have been left completely destitute had it not been for a fluke clause in the original contract.

Joy also needed a good accountant – someone who could help her to accurately forecast her financial needs and prepare proper plans to take to a bank or major lender, rather than having to sign over her house to pay back the loan from her step-mother.

Lawyers, Accountants and HR Professionals specialize in certain areas because there are just too many laws and regulations to “do it all”.  Therefore, it is important to check to make sure the firm or specialist you wish to consult with has the right background in the field you need.  Spending $300 – $500 on an hour’s time getting the right advice could have saved Joy from a nightmare experience.

If you own a business, or want to, and haven’t seen the movie yet, please do. You can also check out your local Business Resource Center for support and information on how to avoid the pitfalls that Joy had to endure.