In the television show, The Big Bang Theory, on Season 2 Episode #18, Penny has an idea of creating flower barrettes, which she calls Penny Blossoms. The flower barrettes were liked very much by other ladies and her coworkers; in one week, Penny made $156. As a result of her small success, she sees a market for her product and turns the idea of making flower barrettes to a business.
Sheldon, as the smart physicist, asks Penny how much profit she makes from selling each Penny Blossom. Penny estimates that she can make approximately 20 Penny Blossoms in a day and makes a profit of approximately fifty cents on each Penny Blossom. Sheldon does the math out loud and calculates that she would earn $10 a day or $2,600 a year.
Calculation for Profits
Daily Profit = 20 items/day x $.50/item = $10/day
Annual Profit = $10/day x 5 days/week x 52 weeks/year = $2,600/year
Calculation for Cost in Time
Time per Item = 12 mins and 17 secs = 737 secs
Time Per Item Per Hour = 1 hour = 60 mins = 3600 sec / 737 secs/item = 4.9 items/hour
Sheldon points out that Penny makes only $5.19 of profits in a day.
Sheldon: “There are children in the sneaker factor in Indonesia who out-earn you.”
Penny: “That can’t be right.”
Penny asks for a better idea and then Sheldon offers a more efficient approach.
Sheldon: “Are you familiar with the development that resulted from honorary blocks 1778 use of interchangeable blocks?”
Penny: Stares at him.
Sheldon: “The assembly line.”
A while later, Leonard and his friends join the business and Leonard creates a website for Penny’s business. Surprisingly, within a short time, the business receives a huge order of 1,000 Penny Blossom items and the order is requested for delivery by the next day. The gang works all night as a team and applies the principles of the assembly line, and at the end of the night they successfully make 1,000 Penny Blossoms, before the deadline.
The episode ends with Penny’s website getting another order of 1,000 Penny Blossoms right after they finish the first thousand batch. By then, the team is extremely exhausted from working overnight, except for Sheldon, who goes on a caffeine rush because of drinking coffee.
I searched for “Penny Blossoms” on Google and interestingly enough, I found that the Penny Blossoms website exists. The checkout process does not work, but the flower barrettes are there. Take a look at the colorful website. http://www.pennyblossoms.com/
Moral of the Story
The moral of the story is that when you have a business idea and you want to grow it, the business process must be scalable. Penny can only produce 4 items in an hour by hand. She was limited by her slow manual process. With help from Sheldon, Penny applies the principle of the assembly line and is able to produce more items per hour than before. Hence, when the process of manufacturing the products becomes more efficient, production increases. And as you know, the more you produce, the more you can sell and the more profits you can earn. Thus, when you have a business idea and you want to be successful, think big.