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 U.S. Air Force Officer Matt Butler, who came up with a new lawn game called "Rollors." He employs military veterans to make it.
How do you serve your country and serve your desire to be an entrepreneur at the same time? That's what U.S. Air Force Officer Matt Butler is contending with. While in the service, he developed a lawn game called "Rollors," which is a mix of bocce ball, horseshoes and bowling.
One of the smart strategies that Butler has deployed is to start up this business on the side (aka pursue a "jobbie" — job + hobby — as I call it) to see if there's initial traction with his product. He's done just that and more — proving initial interest and selling his products in more than 500 retailers, including Amazon, Wayfair and Dicks' Sporting Goods. The basic game sells for $49.95 on Rollors.com. There's also an expansion pack, that allows you to increase the number of players or teams, for $29.95.
I think he's off to a great start — and nailed it on the marketing. However, he's still got to get it to catch on before he even considers quitting his day job — or, in this case, the military.
To take his product to the next level and even think that it may be worth pursuing full time, he needs for it to be adopted into more widespread play, like the Midwestern staple lawn game Cornhole, where you try to toss bean bags into holes in a board. That means he needs a strategy to get it in front of groups of people who can play it socially and hopefully, adopt it as a go-to social activity … aka education and adoption.
Educating the consumer on something new and getting them to purchase it and adopt it as a habit is no easy task and one that many entrepreneurs take for granted. In Butler's case, I suggested that he partner with the likes of bars, social clubs, camps, youth organizations and other groups to feature the game.
I also think that the key to making this a business and not a product is to pursue a league strategy, which has been done on a more casual basis with Cornhole and a more formal basis by Spikeball, a game where two teams of two people hit ball off of a round net on the ground.
Getting people involved by playing a game like Rollors on a regular basis in a competitive social format creates advocates to evangelize for the game and get others involved. Plus, it's a conduit for more direct sales of the game and also can create another revenue stream from league dues, merchandise and more.
So, before Matt marches forward with Rollors full time, there's still some more work to be done on the side while he focuses on continuing his service to our county.
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.