You can be a Successful Inventor by avoiding these Mistakes!

Below is an excellent article from www.inventorinsights.com

Obstacles to Success

Challenges Faced, Marketplace Obstacles Encountered and Common Mistakes Made by Independent Inventors

Failure to obtain solid market research information about target industries.  “Patent holders often believe that asking a few of their friends and family members what they think of their inventions is sufficient research. While this may be a convenient start, it is simply not enough. Good market research for patent holders includes an assessment of the market size, examination of industry trends, analysis of the competition, feedback from the channel, and identification of the target market (potential licensees). Feedback from the channel (frequently retail) is often overlooked by inventors. Although retailers rarely license product patents, their endorsement makes it much easier to license them to manufacturers.”  (Business Wire, “IP&R Shares the Top 10 Reasons Patent Holders Fail,” January 16, 2007)

DIY tendency to take on too much and do everything yourself.  “Many inventors initially try to do everything themselves. But obviously, taking a product to market is not a do-it-yourself project. Taking on the job of a licensing manager, salesperson, engineer, marketer and designer is too much for one person. It’s much more effective to have a team of professionals working for you.” Where to find inventor help resources and invention assistance. (Business Wire, “IP&R Shares the Top 10 Reasons Patent Holders Fail,” January 16, 2007)

Don’t know how to find the right people to see.  “[The hardest part is] simply getting the right people to see [your invention]. It’s like breaking into show business. If you don’t see the right person at the right time, you may not make it. And the ‘right person’ is probably not a buyer far down the management line. You want to see a person higher up…, …the person who can make the decision.” (David Walker Jr., inventor of Walla Balla quoted in Caryne Brown, “Making money making toys: how black inventors are bringing innovative ideas to the toy market”, Black Enterprise, November 1, 1993)


Do you need help finding the right people to see your invention?  Do you need help with market research about a particular  target industry?  Do you have questions about inventing?  If so, Inventors Workshop International (IWI), one of the oldest nonprofit inventor help organizations in the U.S., may be able to help you out.  Inventors Workshop has been providing inventor assistance services for more than 35 years and specializes in personal mentoring and one-on-one counseling.


Too caught up in their own enthusiasm to objectively evaluate the viability of their product.  “[T]here are also plenty of failed ventures in the world of parent entrepreneurs. Some parents get so caught up in their own enthusiasm that they don’t bother to see if anyone else wants their product. ‘We got one submission from someone who decided to put a rubber band around a pacifier to hold it in the baby’s mouth, and another that was a straitjacket so the baby wouldn’t put his hands in his food,” said [Laine Caspi], whose company is called Parents of Invention. “We got one suggesting rubber gloves with nipples (for a baby), so when he puts his fingers in his mouth he gets a nipple. The amount of ridiculous (stuff) we get is unprecedented.’”  (Ilana DeBare, Chronicle Staff Writer, “Innovations inspired by kids,” San Francisco Chronicle, Sunday, November 26, 2006)

Lack of market research is the main cause of product failure in the market.  “A flash of inspiration may spark off a brilliant invention, but to turn it into a successful business, you cannot rely on inspiration alone. You need sound business practices. The lack of market research is the main cause of product failure in the market.” (Ramesh Pillai, manager with TCM Sdn Bhd quoted in Yeang Soo Ching, “Reaping rewards from inventions,” New Straits Times, December 24, 2000)

Too independent and unaware to take advantage of inventor resources and networks.  “#1 Stubbornly Independent. Often, Inventors are too independent and isolated, unaware of resources and networks. They mustn’t hesitate to seek advice, and never should ignore previous work of others in the same field. Networking may be the most important tool of all.”  (Donald Grant Kelly, Patent Agent, “Inventors’ Top Ten Most Common Mistakes and Tips to Avoid Those Mistakes,” Intellectual Assets Management Associates, Alexandria, VA, Undated)

Don’t know where to go for help.  “Often, the problem is that independent inventors don’t have the foggiest idea what they’re doing.  A lot of them have good inventions, but they don’t know where to go for help.”   (Richard Apley, the director of the Office of Independent Inventor Programs quoted in Tim Lemke, “Invention + market savvy = successful product”, The Washington Times, April 16, 2001)  Contact the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), Inventor Assistance Center or find not-for-profit inventor help.

Failure to invest in developing professional-looking, easy to use, and practical invention prototypes“It’s very difficult to sell something you can’t see or touch. Many inventors think their rough sketches or handmade product models are enough to sell their product to a potential licensee or manufacturer. Many inventors, however, are not designers or engineers. Licensers and manufacturers are much more likely to act on product ideas they can see, handle and understand, and that actually ‘work.’ They also are much more likely to respond to something that is well designed and that will attract the consumer’s eye. That’s why it is very important to show a prototype that is easy to use, practical and good looking.”  Roadblocks to success. Invention prototypes. (Business Wire, “IP&R Shares the Top 10 Reasons Patent Holders Fail,” January 16, 2007)

Failure to learn how to negotiate or to find someone who has seasoned business negotiation skills.  “Negotiations begin when a manufacturer is interested in licensing a patent. The majority of inventors think they are good at negotiating. But the sad truth is, most are not. Good negotiation requires properly structuring the deal, knowing what to ask for, knowing when to give in, and maintaining the proper pace. If negotiations are not handled properly, inventors can lose millions and millions of dollars. Although you can learn negotiating skills from a book, these techniques often take years of practice to master.”  Negotiating licensing agreements.  Licensing royalty rates.  (Business Wire, “IP&R Shares the Top 10 Reasons Patent Holders Fail,” January 16, 2007)

Inventors are too paranoid.  “”Inventors come in two forms: paranoid and more paranoid,  One of the most common mistakes they make is to assume that they’re going to get ripped off by a company. I’ve never been ripped off in all the years I’ve been doing this. Why would a company want to? If a company depends on outside inventors, why would they want to kill the goose that lays the golden egg?” (Richard C. Levy, author of “Secrets of Selling Inventions” and “Complete Idiot’s Guide to Cashing in On Your Inventions,” quoted in Edmund L. Andrews, “Inventor Offers Advice On Ways to Market Ideas”, N.Y. Times News Service, The Journal Record, September 5, 1992)

Difficulties learning about the industries that the inventor’s products are in.  “The toughest two things about getting a product to market… …are conceptualization of your idea into a final product and learning the industry that you’re in. There’s a certain way to distribute your product, certain margins, markups. Find the trade organization, get the trade magazines and become an expert in the industry where you expect your product to succeed.” (Bobby Toole, president of United Inventors Association quoted in Caryne Brown, “Making money making toys: how black inventors are bringing innovative ideas to the toy market”, Black Enterprise, November 1, 1993)

Cheap or unprofessional-looking invention marketing materials. “Inventors only get one chance to make a first impression. Unfortunately, it is very difficult to change someone’s mind if that impression is negative. Oftentimes, patent holders go the cheap route, spending next to nothing on marketing material. If the marketing material is unprofessional, it is unlikely that the invention will ever get licensed – no matter how revolutionary it may be.” (Business Wire, “IP&R Shares the Top 10 Reasons Patent Holders Fail,” January 16, 2007)

Insufficient business and marketing skills.  “No matter how inventive the inventor, too often they combine a giant creative impulse with gnat-sized business and marketing abilities.” (Penni Crabtree, “Invention is the easy part; marketing is the necessity,” San Diego Business Journal, December 21, 1992)

Not Invented Here (NIH).  “[The] general response has been one in the vein of ‘NIH’ — Not Invented Here. ‘The difficulty as an inventor is, unless you happen to be friends with the right person, they shun you.’” (Inventor Michael Pinsker, 62, of Vint Hill in Fauquier County, Virginia quoted in Theresa Vargas, Washington Post Staff Writer, “Novel Ideas Pass Through Filter at U.S. Patent Office,” Washington Post, Sunday, November 18, 2007)

Failure to obtain the right education and tools beforehand.  “Every day, thousands of mom-and-pop inventors are constantly reinventing the wheel as they try to push their new creation into the marketplace without the education or tools they need to make realistic and economic decisions.”  (Bill Baker, director of the Academy for Innovation, “Inventors need to add business skills to become entrepreneurs,” Minneapolis / St. Paul Business Journal, October 7, 2005)

Biggest challenge is getting the products to market.  “The biggest challenge is getting (the products) to the market,”  (Jim Ward, inventor of Puppy Perch quoted in Marcia Heroux Pounds, “Licensing Offer Inventors A Safe Path to Production,” Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News, November 10, 1998)

Marketing is the hard part. “The ideas are easy to come up with.  Making them a commercial success is the hard part.”  (Mark Shaw, vice president of UltraTech International Inc., quoted in Dolly Penland, “Protect your ideas,” Jacksonville Business Journal, March 16, 2007)

Failure to secure information about major players in the target industry.  “Undoubtedly, lack of capital has prevented many product ideas from going beyond the drawing board. But judging by the experience of inventors who have made it, information rather than money is more often the decisive factor in the success of a new product.  Knowing how an industry works, and who its major players are, can help an inventor spend money where it will do the most good.”  (Caryne Brown, “Making money making toys: how black inventors are bringing innovative ideas to the toy market”, Black Enterprise, November 1, 1993)  Where you can find information about “major player” companies in target industries.

Falling prey to inventor scams in a common mistake for first time inventors.  “Andrea Aguilar knows that better than anyone. She decided to act on the lemon peeler idea three years ago, but she never got beyond securing a patent. The company she hired to help her get the peeler to market abandoned her abruptly. Falling prey to such scams is a common mistake of first-time inventors.”  (Marton Dunai, “More inventors try to market products,” Oakland Tribune, September 5, 2006)

Bosses.  “[My] boss actually wanted me to work more in the electrical domain and not in the so-called optical domain where you’re dealing with more exotic materials. And so at the time, I bootlegged some of my work. He knew that I was doing some other work, but he didn’t know what fraction of time I was doing other things. And if it turns out I had been unsuccessful at one point, he put me under threat that I could essentially hit the road.  …[As] far as bosses are concerned, there’s more pressure on them for something else, and if you’re looking further out for some reason or another or your curiosity is taking you in some direction that’s not in line with the main goal, then you’re in jeopardy. The hierarchy is going to remove you or drop you.”  (Nick Holonyak, inventor of the dimmer switch and the light-emitting diode, the LED, quoted in Ira Flatow, “Analysis: Inventors, invention and innovation,” Talk of the Nation, Science Friday, NPR, December 24, 2004)  Discover publications by and about Nick Holonyak.

Inventing has never been more costly and frustrating.  “There’s never been a more exciting time to be an inventor, because of the Internet and access to information, but it’s also never been more costly and frustrating.”  (Robb Sexton, inventor of flat wiring, senior vice president of Southwire and president of the FlatWire Technologies Division quoted in Laura Raines, “So you want to be an inventor?,” Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Sunday, April 12, 2009)

Money is a problem.  “Money is a problem.  The legal system is prohibitively expensive to entrepreneurs.” (Todd Wengrovsky, New York State Society of Professional Inventors quoted in Erika Rasmusson, “Pen inventor won’t be written off by imitators,” Crain’s New York Business, April 22, 2002)

Lack of support from family, friends and benefactors.  “Alexander Graham Bell’s father-in-law, who was his benefactor, forbid him to work on the telephone ’cause he thought there wasn’t a penny to be made on the phone.” (Ira Flatow, “Analysis: Inventors, invention and innovation,” Talk of the Nation, Science Friday, NPR, December 24, 2004)  Discover best-selling books by Ira Flatow.

Unchecked egocentricity.  “Unchecked egocentricity is a major source of failure.  Amateurs seem to think they have the answer to everything. Not only do they not take criticism, they’re usually highly critical of others. They’re very defensive where others are concerned.”   (Richard C. Levy, author of “Secrets of Selling Inventions” and “Complete Idiot’s Guide to Cashing in On Your Inventions,” quoted in Edmund L. Andrews, “Inventor Offers Advice On Ways to Market Ideas”, N.Y. Times News Service, The Journal Record, September 5, 1992)

Blind love for an invention.  “Sometimes inventors fall in love with what they’ve created and it’s blind love, because they don’t often see how their invention can fit into the market.”  (Calvin Hodock, former Chairman of the Board of the American Marketing Association quoted in Williams-Harold, Bevolyn, “You’ve got it made! (developing invention ideas),” Black Enterprise, June 1, 1999)  Discover books by Calvin Hodock.

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Filed under Andrew R. Spriegel, Andrew Spriegel, business, Economy, Financial Planning, Invention, Inventions, Re-Invent Yourself, Reinventing Yourelf, Sales and Marketing

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