Don't quit your day job ... yet. Or, at least wait until you talk to Carol Roth, a small-business advocate, "recovering" investment banker, and author of "The Entrepreneur Equation." In a new digital series, Roth takes on would-be entrepreneurs who want to abandon their careers for new small-business ideas. Here, she analyzes Shawn Childers an insurance-claims adjuster by day, who came up with an idea for Tush Ups, eco-friendly exercise pants with built-in undergarments and removable pads for an extra boost.
Business owners often do something that I call "business beer goggling." They become so intoxicated with a business idea that their "rose-colored goggles" make the business look like a veritable lottery ticket. However, sometimes when they finally wake-up, they realize that the business opportunity is nowhere as good looking as they had thought.
Take the case of Shawn Childers. She has a lucrative job (paying more than $50,000 a year plus benefits) and is a total go-getter. When she came up with the idea of Tush Ups, her exercise pants with features like built-in seamless panties to eliminate the dreaded VPL (visible panty lines) and removable pads that you can use to give your caboose a ca-boost, she put on her business beer goggles tightly. She focused on the features of her product and that led her to invest $21,000 of her own capital in pursuing patent protection, developing the product and inventory.
However, had she critically looked at the financial projections for her idea, she probably would have woken up quickly — and with fewer regrets.
First, there's the name issue. Google "Tush Ups," and the entire first page of results is for a different product called Tush Ups.
Second, there are a lot of big players in the active wear market — Nike, Lululemon, Athleta — not to mention the powerhouse Spanx in the shapewear department. It would be really tough for a young start-up to try to compete with any of these apparel giants.
Third, and most importantly, are the financials. So far, she has only sold 100 pairs. And, by her own calculations, Childers projected around $128,000 in sales by the end of year four. That level of sales really isn't big enough for the business to be a full-time endeavor.
Even if she hits that target, she's projected to make cumulatively $71,000 total pre-tax over the four years. At $57,000 per year, her current job would pay her $228,000 over that same time period. You'd have to have blinders — not goggles — on to think that was acceptable under any scenario.
Passion for a product or business idea isn't enough to make it worthwhile as a business. It can be a hobby or project, but if you are going to pursue a business, you need to look at the numbers to see if it's viable as something that will fill your bank account as much as it fulfills your creative desires.
If Childers can come up with a new name, perhaps get a celebrity endorsement with a few snaps on Instagram, she may have a shot. But until then, I say, "Don't quit your day job .. yet!"
If you're an entrepreneur looking to turn your hobby or "jobbie" into a full-time career, we want to hear from you. Email: AskCarolRoth@cnbc.com.