small business marketing promotion cover shot

Scott Huskinson never imagined he’d fund his kids’ college tuition with silicone wristbands.

by Shannon McRae (Reprinted from Mybusinessmag.com)

Late last year, Huskinson noticed lots of people wearing yellow wristbands, a fund-raising effort for the Lance Armstrong Foundation, which is dedicated to cancer research and education. After a few celebrities were photographed wearing the yellow bracelets, they quickly became a hot commodity: Forty-seven million LiveStrong wristbands were sold in the first year that they were available.

Seeing a great fund-raising opportunity, other charitable groups started producing their own versions of the wristbands—and Huskinson, who is based in Logan, Utah, got an idea.

“I had relationships with some overseas vendors for other things I had done, and I started wondering if any of them could do wristbands,” says Huskinson. In particular, he was looking for a supplier who could produce smaller quantities so that customers could order 50 personalized wristbands instead of 50,000.

As it turned out, his supplier could produce them, so Huskinson built a Web site, put in a phone line and expected to get a few orders a day. Instead, thousands of orders poured in from all over the country, and hundreds more e-mails arrived every day. People loved the wristbands.

Huskinson got in on a craze at the right time, and now just nine months later, Reminder Band has 24 phone lines and its Web site receives almost 40,000 hits a day.

“It’s kind of like winning the lottery, it has all happened so fast,” says Huskinson, who started the business with two partners, Aaron Bishop and Clay Broadbent.

But it’s also an undeniable fad. And even though pre-teen kids are coveting the wristbands now, something new could come along any day. “We know it’s a fad,” Huskinson says. “But we’re preparing for it.”

If you’ve capitalized on a trend at the right time, congratulations. But good luck maintaining your small business if you don’t have a plan for what you’re going to do when today’s fad is forgotten tomorrow. Here’s how the Reminder Band partners plan to maintain their success:

Stay creative. In a business where everyone wants their order yesterday, Huskinson could be tempted to work day and night on orders that have already been placed. He does focus on running the business, but he also spends a lot of his day thinking about new ideas and concepts. “There’s a big emphasis on developing new products,” he says. “We know wristbands could fade away.” That’s why he’s investing money into infrastructure now, so that he can use systems in place to produce different products down the road.

Reward employees. The employees at Reminder Band are dedicated—a few have even slept at the office before. Their volume of work is immense, but so is their enthusiasm. The founders use a monthly profit-sharing program to make sure employees are rewarded for their hard work. “The phones are ringing off the hook. At times it’s very stressful here,” Huskinson says. “We wanted to show our employees that we’re all benefiting, not just the owners. We couldn’t do this without great people.”

Keep your wits. Hitting a fad is like finding a gold mine, and you may be tempted to celebrate. But take a tip from Huskinson and his partners and remain calm. Even with their overwhelming success, Huskinson still lives in a four-bedroom house (with seven kids). His partner, Broadbent, drives a car with 150,000 miles on it. “No new house or cars yet—we can do that sort of thing when we have more time,” Huskinson says. “The focus now is doing the best job we can.

*Learn more about handling growth spurts in “Managing Growth” at http://www.NFIB.com/toolsandtips.