As Frank Sinatra famously sang, accidents will happen. It's a simple fact of life that not everything will run as it should – and sometimes this has tragic and fatal consequences. Elon Musk is in hot water, with a lawsuit being filed against him and his company, Tesla, following the death of an 18-year old who was killed when a Tesla Model S battery malfunctioned. This isn't an isolated incident – there have been 12 cases of Tesla S batteries exploding or spontaneously combusting leading to accidents and injuries. But just what comes after something serious like this for a company?
The case against Tesla is up in the air, mainly because of the stringent insurance that Tesla will have to protect themselves. That's why it's such a cautionary tale about the importance of general liability insurance for small business, as having the right insurance can help protect your company and customers alike.
General liability insurance coverage, in particular, is vital for any business as it covers everyone involved against bodily and personal injury as well as property damage. Most importantly, it helps cover against accident lawsuits, which can alone bankrupt a company.
In addition to ensuring you have the right insurance to protect your company and customers following an accident, part of surviving the fallout of a situation like this as a company is making changes to your product to reduce the possibility of a similar accident happening again.
For example, Golden Age actress Jayne Mansfield also changed the course of history for tractor-trailers. An accident that ended up killing the star changed the regulations on tractor-trailers to prevent future accidents. Mansfield's death added stronger safety features into a potentially dangerous contraption, aptly named Mansfield Bars or underride bars, which prevent anything from sliding underneath them. Accidents can cause a company or an entire industry to change the processes and methods in which they do things.
Accidents in other companies can lead to serious change regarding how they are viewed. British theme park Alton Towers cultivated a terrible reputation following an accident on their rollercoaster, which forced a young woman to have to endure a leg amputation. The social media uproar and customer distrust of the company grew and resulted in sales for the Merlin brand dropping for their theme park offering.
The BP oil accident at Deepwater Horizon, which was later made into a film, was another example of an accident leading to terrible publicity for the brand, as well as showing the fullest extent that accident lawsuits can go to, with BP paying over $42 billion. The CEO Tony Hayward was so embattled that he made a public gaffe by claiming “I'd like my life back" when he was done with answering questions on the spillages along the US Gulf Coast. The public tide began to turn on the fossil fuel provider, and people began looking at alternative methods that weren't liable to cause as many accidents. PR meltdowns could lead to devastation for companies, all because their safety protocol wasn't in place and an accident happened.
Accidents are awful, but a fact of life. There is nothing that we can do to prevent them – but we can protect ourselves should they happen. Ensuring that nothing can go wrong is vital, and often where companies find their downfall is when evidence of reckless endangerment or incorrect practices is unveiled. But, when the definition of the word accident can be applied, the best policy is to ensure that we are as protected from the aftermath as possible.
I have always been in love with all things art- I was obsessed with drawing and painting before I was even walking. In high school, I started a career selling art through various gallery art shows and on Etsy. I then went on to study fine arts at the University of Southern California, with an emphasis in painting, but took classes in ceramics, printmaking, cinema and architecture to get a really well-rounded education on all sorts of art.
During my senior year of college, my career path went through a huge transition; I started my own temporary tattoo brand, INKED by Dani, which is a brand of temporary tattoos based on my hand-drawn fine art designs.
The idea for the brand came one night after a themed party at college. My friends, knowing how much I loved drawing, asked me to cover them in hand-drawn doodles using eyeliner. The feedback from that night was overwhelming, everyone my friends saw that night was obsessed with the designs. In that moment, a lightbulb went off in my head... I could do some completely unique here and create chic temporary tattoos with an art-driven aesthetic, unlike anything else on the market. Other temporary tattoo brands were targeted to kids or lacked a sleek and millennial-driven look. It was a perfect pivot; I could utilize my fine arts training and tattoos as a new art medium to create a completely innovative brand.
Using the money I made from selling my artwork throughout high school and college, I funded the launch of INKED by Dani. I had always loved the look of dainty tattoos, but knew I could never commit to the real thing, and I knew my parents would kill me if I got a tattoo (I also knew that so many girls must have that same conflict). Starting INKED by Dani was a no-brainer.
I started off with a collection of about only 10 designs and sold them at sorority houses around USC. Our unique concept for on-trend and fashion-forward tattoos was spreading through word of mouth, and we quickly started growing an Instagram following. I was hustling all day from my room, cold calling retailers, sending blind samples and tons of emails, and trying to open up as many opportunities as I could.
Now, we're sold at over 10,000 retail locations (retailers include Target, Walmart, Urban Outfitters, Forever 21 and Hot Topic), and we've transformed temporary tattoos into a whole new form of wearable art.
My 4 best tips for starting your own business are:
- Just go with your gut! You'll never know what works until you try it. Go day by day and do everything in your power to work toward your goals. Be bold, but be sure to be thoughtful in your actions.
- Research your competitors and other successful brands in your category to determine how you can make your product stand out. Figure out where there is a need or hole in the market that your new offering or approach can fill.
- Don't spread yourself too thin. Delegate where possible, and stay focused each day on doing the best and most you can. Don't get too caught up in your end goal or the big picture to a point where it overwhelms or freezes you. You're already making a bold move to start something new, so try to prioritize what's important! I started off in the beginning hand packing every single tattoo pack that we sold and shipped. If I wanted to scale to align with the level of demand we were receiving, I needed to make the pivot to mass produce and relinquish the control of doing every step myself. I am a total perfectionist, so that was definitely hard! From that point on, overseeing production has been a huge part of my daily schedule, but by doing so I've been able to free up more time to focus on design, merchandising, and sales, allowing me to really focus on growing the business.
- Prioritize great product packaging and branding. It's so important to invest time in customer experience- how customers view and interact with your product. The packaging is just as important as the actual product inside! When we were starting off, we had high demand, and I definitely jumped the gun a bit on packaging so we could deliver product to the retailers when they wanted it. Since then, we've completely revamped the packaging into something upscale and unique that reflects what the brand is all about. Our product packaging is always called out as being one of our retailers' and customers' favorite part of our product!