Three ways to shift your thinking and take the actions needed to profit from your ideas.
Pushing past naysayers and those who don’t see your vision absolutely requires a thick skin and perseverance for any inventor. However, giving up too soon is not likely to be the biggest problem blocking your success getting your innovation to market. You are.
Here are three mindsets that might make you a successful inventor but be blocking you from seeing the actions or resources needed to take you to success:
Of the hundreds of products and inventions I have reviewed or been asked to advise on over the last few years, an overwhelming percentage of them had patents that had already issued. The majority had been worked on for at least a year or more. Maybe to you that might be unsurprising, but less than 10% had ever tried to sell a single unit or been market tested with an actual audience. The most common reason stated was that the invention/prototype/product was “not ready yet.” It is never too early to get market feedback. Never too soon to make sure that the valuable part of your invention is actually of value to your future customers. Waiting for it to be perfect to start market testing these things is how you miss market timing or miss the mark with what the market wants.
Many inventors are paranoid – and rightfully so for the most part. The patent system favors those with money and influence. There is a history of stolen inventions. I have even had it happen to myself on multiple occasions by major retailers. But this paranoid mindset keeps you holding the invention too close to get valuable and informative feedback from the market and from your peers. Getting an idea from brainstorm to boxrequires a lot of feedback from invested parties like manufacturing, distribution, finance, sales, marketing, buyers, and of course, consumers. Keeping too much to yourself not only makes it less likely that you will pivot the design enough to be the most manufacture-able, cost effective, or market viable, but it means that you will expend too much money before you fail. Fail fast, cheaply and quickly.
Inventors and innovators are classic do-it-yourself personalities. Working on invention ideas, searching for solutions and pushing through obstacles by learning from doing is the exact mindset it takes to come up with innovative products. But, it is also the mindset that gets too many inventors into trouble taking that idea to market. The problem lies not in the DIY required in your core invention area, but believing that you need to do-it-yourself in all areas of building a business around your invention. If your core competence and expertise is in sustainable engineering, then why are you learning Facebook algorithms and advertising methods to market your invention? It is precisely because you value expertise and want your expertise to be of value that you should be the first to go out and seek expert partners to help you. The trick is to find partners who are not ‘yes-men’ validating what you want to hear. You need to hire the skeptics. They are the ones who will help you pivot and refine for a perfect market fit.
I am frequently asked how my partner and I have an 86% commercialization rate on our 37 patents. The answer is simply this… we do not consider our ideas sacred or our ‘babies’. We have three daughters who are our real babies and more important to protect from the risk and volatility of our compulsion to invent and design than our egos. Our patented (and patent-pending) inventions are just the ideas that were evaluated as having merit. Before we even filed a patent or spend time and money perfecting our numerous ideas for the market, we 1) review with peers we trust who have varying areas of expertise; 2) test the market-product fit early and cheaply; and 3) hire the right resources to make sure that our ideas get the best team working on making them a market success.
So, next time you want to give up, look within and see if you are blocking your path to success.
Read the original INC article published on July 29, 2016.