By Patricia Nolan-Brown, author of “Idea to Invention: What You Need to Know to Cash In on Your Inspiration“
If you want to know how to invent a product, you can get all the steps to invention you need in my new book, “Idea to Invention“.
Meanwhile, here is an Inventor Help Line with important information to help avoid the top ten traps that many inventors fall into:
1. Never… Tell people about your idea before it’s protected.
Somebody you’ve told might agree that it’s a fantastic product and run away with it. And “publicly disclosing” your idea (a fancy way to say “telling people about it”) could ruin your chances of getting a patent.
2. Never… Run right out and get a non-provisional patent first thing.
Why not? Because it’s expensive and time consuming. There are lots of easier and less expensive ways to protect your idea without having to jump through all the full-on patent hoops.
3. Never… Execute an idea before you do any research online or in actual stores.
This doesn’t mean putting your idea in front of a firing squad! It means that before you invest a lot of time or money, make a prototype, or start ordering parts, you need to be sure that there’s actually a market for your product.
4. Never… Rely on family and friends for honest opinions.
Our nearest and dearest are often groundlessly enthusiastic (or, worse, negative). More importantly, they’re not usually the targeted end-user for your product. It’s much better to do in-person or online polls (using very general questions so you’re not disclosing any important details) to see if your idea has merit.
5. Never… Quit your day job prematurely.
Your income and health insurance are important, especially when you’re just starting out. Because the Internet is open 24/7 and always at your fingertips, you can invent around your existing job until you’re ready to be a full-time inventor.
6. Never… Assume you need a middle person in order to succeed.
Product evaluation companies, product submission/licensing companies, and many others make their money by convincing you that they can do it better than you can — and many such companies end up owning your patent. With a little time and patience, you can do many of the steps to invention all by yourself — for free! And if you do go through a middle person, be sure to read all agreements very, very carefully.
7. Never… Be greedy.
If a qualified company offers to buy or license your idea, you’re just after a fair deal. Don’t lose a perfectly good opportunity by asking for the moon.
8. Never… Expect immediate success.
The race to success is a marathon, not a sprint. Pace yourself.
9. Never… Go into debt, lose your house or your retirement funds.
If an idea isn’t panning out, know when to fold, swallow your pride, and go on to your next idea. Keep your assets untouchable.
10. Never… Ignore social media.
The Internet is one of your most valuable business tools. You can use social media to promote and sell your products, for customer service, and market research. Not only that, it gives you the ability to contact almost anyone directly and quickly—and it’s mostly free. Use it!
Wishing you all the very best ideas and inspirations.
*Adapted from “Idea to Invention: What You Need to Know to Cash In on Your Inspiration“(AMACOM Books; January 2014) by Patricia Nolan.
Patricia Nolan-Brown is the author of “Idea to Invention: What You Need to Know to Cash In on Your Inspiration“ and inventor of the original rear-facing car seat mirror. Patricia holds multiple patents and registered trademarks, and has sold tens of millions of products. She also has a thriving career as a motivational speaker, for groups from Fortune 500 CEOs to grade-school science-fair hopefuls, and a popular video blog. You can also follow her on twitter @pnolanbrown or like her on Facebook.