Beginning Steps for Inventors with a New Idea
By Stephen Paul Gnass
As an individual in the early idea stages, are you experiencing excitement and frustration right now? On the one hand, do you see the rewards and potential of your idea while simultaneously being plagued by a multitude of confusing questions about how to start, who to go to, who to trust, how much it will cost, and whether your idea is even worth pursuing?
If so, you're not alone. In more than a decade of guiding thousands of inventors, I've found that most people with new ideas have little or no experience in commercializing a product, and usually work at a full-time job. So it's very understandable that they may not have the knowledge, time or resources to develop and launch a new product.
My goal as Executive Director of NCIO, is to educate individuals with a new idea about what they need to do, to help increase the odds that their new products will make it to market.
Your First Priority
My belief is that education should be your first priority in developing your new idea. After all, do doctors just decide to practice medicine and just "do it"? Do lawyers become lawyers overnight? Of course not. These are specialized fields that require years of study and practice - and also high cost for the education. And most of us know that with specialization, comes higher financial rewards too.
I believe that it's the same with inventing. Yet I've found that most people just jump right in - they immediately go get a patent, or build an expensive prototype, or invest into a firm that they think will do it all for them (by the way, there's no such thing, read "A Brief Introduction to Scam Companies"). The truth is that inventing is not a "get rich quick" business. Those of us who know this, realize that only a small percentage of inventors even make it all the way through the process.
I believe that this is because most people think that they'll be an overnight success and don't do first things first - and as a result end up taking the wrong paths. I have heard sad stories of inventors who didn't do "first things first" and have spent thousands of dollars (average $3-10,000) on a patent, in addition to the costs of prototypes, molds, and manufacturing runs (average $20-100,000), only to realize after the fact that their product didn't have the expected market value or potential they initially thought it had. Many of these inventors have ended up stuck with unsold products in every nook and cranny of their garages, attics, or basements because even the liquidators (who normally pay pennies on the dollar) wouldn't buy their stock.
Just as sad, I've spoken with many people with ideas who ended up with the scam companies who told them what they wanted to hear, took all their money, and let their idea die, as well as killed the individual's spirit of inventing.
The bottom line is that ultimately nobody can guarantee you success - even WITH enough education. There are just too many factors and variables involved in launching a new product. The marketplace will be the final judge for your product. But I believe that your odds of succeeding will greatly increase with a rock solid foundation of knowledge to build upon.
With the educated path, the worst case scenario (if you were to find out that your idea is a no-go), would be that you ended up spending only the necessary and minimum amount of money along with your sweat equity. Which I believe isn't a loss, because you'll be able to utilize all these skills and knowledge with your next great idea...and the next...and the next...
This "Inventing 101" Online Course will be featuring new articles about the beginning steps of the invention process, starting here with immediate protection of your new idea without a patent. But remember that this is only an introductory, yet important, phase in protecting your idea. This articles does not mean nor imply that you don't need a patent! This article is about using the U.S. First-to-Invent Patent system as a starting point to protect your idea in the very early stages while you're doing research and testing your product. To be fully protected, you will most likely need a patent - just not right now. There is much, much, more information about protecting and launching a new product. This section will be a work-in-progress over an indefinite period of time, and we encourage you to subscribe to the free Invention Convention e-mail subscription below so that we can notify you of new articles and news as they're added.
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