Inventing Suggestions Based upon Lessons Learned
This post is written based upon years of inventing products for other companies and for my own businesses. The approach I am recommending is an approach that I wish someone had mentioned to me along the way and in all probability someone did but I wasn’t listening at the time. I know that this approach works.
The Bad News – Right off the Bat the Odds of Commercializing
Your Own Product is Less than 5%
The actual odds of being successful though are much higher than wasting your money buying a lottery ticket. In addition, I am convinced that the odds would be much higher if inventors used the following approach.
Don’t Get Hung Up on Your First Idea
It is hard to convert an idea into a commercialized product. In my experience the idea is the simplest part of the overall process. Once again, THE IDEA IS THE SIMPLEST PART of commercializing a product. Many people come up with ideas (many brilliant). Getting a product to market is determined by cash flow and your position of strength or weakness with respect to cash flow. Don’t get hung up on the initial patent ideas that you come up with, even if they are great ideas! In most cases, your first product needs to be simple! You will always end up spending more money than you expect to spend and also more time than you anticipated.
The Importance of Cash Flow
The goal is to establish and maintain positive cash flow on the products that you develop and sell, so that you can make a profit and if desired you can develop additional products that can be more and more complex. A few of the main problems that inventors face is they run out of money, they give up too soon or they start out with a product that is overly complicated and too expensive to develop.
Will Your Product Sell?
It is critical to find out if the product will sell prior to spending a lot of money on the product. I am not saying that product marketing research is not critical but the approach that I am going to recommend involves very little marketing research on your first few product launches. On your first few products I recommend not spending money on market research. I will explain this in detail further on in this post, however if you spend less time and money on the product you can avoid market research and let potential customers decide if they want to purchase your product.
Keep track of all of and record your ideas. Every patent idea that you have should be written down in a patent notebook. The notebook should have a hard, stitched binding and numbered pages. Patent notebooks can be purchased on line or at an office supply company. When documenting your ideas sign and date each page and get a disinterested witness who understands the idea to also sign and date the pages. There are specific legal requirements for keeping a patent notebook that you should be able to find on the web or better yet talk with a patent attorney. I will always recommend the services of a patent attorney, not only because I am a patent attorney but also because I have spent thousands of dollars on patent work myself for my own businesses.
Invention Ideas are Easy to come up with Simple Techniques
I believe patent ideas are easy to come up with by asking yourself “what product would solve the problems that you observe in my daily life?” As you walk around stores look at products that are being sold there and ask yourself whether you could have afforded the time and money to make that product. A product that you want to patent has to be novel or new, I will explain patent approaches in detail in a future post.
Put Yourself in a Position Where you Can Stretch out the Use of your Money
Buckminster Fuller defined wealth as the amount of time you could survive without working (“Bucky undeniably has been one of the key innovators in the 20th century). I believe the goal in inventing is create a continuing stream of money so that you can increase “the amount of time you could survive without working.” As discussed previously, individuals often come up with great ideas to commercialize but start with a product that is too complicated and too expensive for them to take to market. They often run out of money before they commercialize the product. That is unfortunate because a steady stream of products can create wealth year over year over year (that is “the amount of time you could survive without working.”).
After all this is why so many people buy lottery tickets. They call it working for a living, because it involves work. Even if you love your job, it is nice to have residual income.
Start with Simple Products and Increase the Product Complexity as Cash Flow Improves
My suggestion, start out with a simple product that you can make or that can be made one at a time, as the product is ordered. In other words, don’t design a product that has to be tooled, requires expensive manufacturing or that requires expensive assembly. The initial products don’t have to be glamorous or technically complex; the ideas need to meet a need/desire and to sell to establish positive cash flow.
Many products are simple to develop, they serve a purpose and individuals are buying them. Once again, look around in stores and ask yourself would that product be simple or difficult to develop. Could you afford to make that product?
File for a Provisional Patent (Only Develop Products that You can Patent)
My recommendation is that you should only develop products in which you can obtain patent rights. USE A PATENT ATTORNEY TO FILE THE PROVISIONAL PATENT. I will discuss the provisional patent (vs. a non-provisional patent) and using a patent attorney in detail in a further post on my Blog. As I mentioned previously, I have paid patent law firms thousands of dollars, even as a patent attorney, to protect my ideas with patent rights.
Sell Your Product on the Internet Using Your Own Website
Websites are becoming easier and easier to build. Many companies, such as, GoDaddy.com have templates that you can use to build a website. They also have good support staff that help walk you through the process. There are also very easy to follow books and website instructions to help you with the process. If you need to take a class on building a website do so or hire a website developer to build your website.
If you create a simple product, that consumers want or don’t want, that can be made one at a time you will have achieved a major victory! First, if it sells you will have created positive cash flow; your product will not have to be made until someone has ordered the product on line and paid for it. Companies often live and die holding inventory. In this case, you will have to carry little or no inventory. Obviously, you have to have a system in place once the order is received so that you can get the product out quickly once it is ordered. Second, you have solved your market research issue. As you start getting people to your website you will quickly find out whether there is demand or not for your product. If your product sells well, great you have started to establish residual positive cash flow. If your product does not sell well, you have not spent a lot of money or time on the product and you can move on to the next one. Don’t be discouraged if your product doesn’t sell but always learn from the lessons and mistakes. Third, if your product sells you have put yourself in a much stronger position if a company wants to negotiate with you about buying your product.
Nothing increases your leverage with a company more than when you start to take market share away from that company or you have a product that sells. In addition, because you are selling the product yourself, you are able to keep the majority of the profit. Even if you are working full time you can still create a steady stream of residual income.
Believe in Yourself
Very few products were successful right away, chase the dream!
Success and Your Reputation
Always be fair in your dealings with others. Only work with people that are willing to put into writing the promises that they make verbally. Your reputation follows you wherever you go. You will be known more by your actions then your words. Good Luck and please keep me posted on your progress at email@example.com.
– Andrew R. Spriegel
We all succeed if we all succeedTM
Disclaimer: This site provides information for use at your own risk. Information is not the same as legal advice, the application of information to an individual’s specific circumstances. This site does not provide legal services or legal advice.