Have you always considered yourself an inventor, or an ideas person? Do you lose sleep because your brain keeps coming up with awesome new product ideas or ways to make money? If so, your next step is to learn how to take your ideas and turn them into reality.
Pick Just One Invention to Focus On
For you, ideas are a dime a dozen. You can probably think of three things right now that would make things easier for cooks in the kitchen. So for you, the hardest challenge in the beginning is to pick just one idea and forget the rest, at least for now. If you’re going to really create a billion dollar empire, you need laser sharp focus on just one idea. Anything that doesn’t relate to that one idea is a distraction that will keep you from your goal.
Be Passionate About the Invention You Pursue
As you progress toward your goal, there will be many obstacles along the way. Some may have to do with challenges directly related to launching your invention idea into reality. Others may have to do with general life challenges that prevent you from spending the time or money you need to get your idea off the ground. If you’re not passionate about your invention idea to start with, you won’t have the necessary determination and fortitude needed to follow through with the plan. That’s a common reason that Lori Greiner, of Shark Tank, turns down products. If she doesn’t feel passionate about an idea, she knows it won’t ultimately be a success for her portfolio.
Keep Records of Your Invention Ideas
Once you start writing and drawing your ideas on paper, keep good records. Experts recommend purchasing a spiral bound notebook to keep all your written details. On each page you use, write the corresponding date. If you ever end up having to prove that the idea belongs to you, you’ll have this personal, dated and handwritten record with all the sheets intact to submit to the court. The notebook will show all the stages you went through, how long you worked on the concept, and any designs you thought up along the way.
Build a Prototype of Your Invention
A prototype is a working or non-working model of your product. You can use your prototype for a variety of purposes, including; to demonstrate your idea to potential investors, to file with your patent application or to have a 3D model on your workbench to help clarify your ideas for yourself. The material you want to use to build your prototype will depend on the idea itself, but you don’t always need everlasting cash flow to build one. Inventors have built prototypes out of used parts, modeling clay, fabric, wood, and even a combination of all of these. When it comes to prototypes, whatever gets the concept of your idea across will do fine.
Do a Thorough Patent Search for Your Invention
You’ll need to conduct a patent search. Many people skip this tedious step, at their own folly. A patent search should always be conducted, because if you bring your product to market and it infringes on someone else’s patent, you can be sued for thousands of dollars or more. You can conduct an online patent search yourself, using the tools at the U.S. patent office, or the more recent Google patent search tool. However, be forewarned that patent searches can take hours or days, and they require the utmost concentration and attention to detail. It’s a much more productive use of your time to find a good patent lawyer and pay them about $500 to do a thorough patent search on your behalf.
File a Patent for Your Invention Idea
Before you put your product idea in front of the public eye, you’ll want to file your own patent. For $110, you can file a provisional patent yourself, without the help of a patent attorney. The provisional patent safeguards you against copyright infringement on your product for one year. After that, you can either drop the patent or file for a permanent, non-provisional patent. At that stage, it’s best to dole out the $5,000 or so to have a patent attorney file for you.
Learn From Others
Patents are complex legal filings that require specific documentation. One or more mistakes could render your patent impotent against your competitors. If you want to know the value of a patent, just ask James Dyson, inventor of the Dyson vacuum cleaner. He’s had numerous attempted patent infringements on his unique and effective vacuum system. So far, James Dyson has been able to protect his interests, thanks to the solidity of the patents he’s filed. The Shark vacuum company has been in court with Dyson as recently as March, 2015.
Sample the Market Before Moving Forward
Before you spend bundles on manufacturing your product and risk having piles of unsold inventory collecting dust in your garage, do some test marketing. Get a few samples made and bring it to demonstrate at trade shows. You’ll be able to get a good sense of the market response to your new product, and possibly collect a few purchase orders in the bargain.
Pursue a Celebrity Endorsement
If you can get a celebrity to endorse your product, you’re more than halfway to creating your billion dollar empire. How do you think Daymond John of FUBU, got his clothing collection to be noticed? He got his old buddy, LL Cool J, to wear one of his hats in a television commercial, and the rest is history. If you’re fresh out of celebrities in your back pocket, think harder. There are only six degrees of separation between you and someone famous. You just have to find the right steps to take.
Assemble a Team
No one rich did it alone while sitting in their bedroom. Every rich person had the sense to know that they needed other people to make their dream a reality. Steve Jobs had Steve Wozniak. Coco Chanel had Pierre Wertheimer. At this stage in your empire building, you need a marketing and sales partner to drive sales.
Keep Your Wits About You
This is the pivotal point where you’ll either be the billionaire or get freaked out at all the changes in your life and let everything fall apart. Even good things can be stressful, and many people find they can’t handle success like they thought they would. When sales pour in and your bank account grows, you need to accept the change in your life. Know that from here on out, nothing will be the same. If you can comfortably accept change, then your empire has a good chance to be a success.
No matter how big your billion dollar empire gets, it’s important to stay grounded and focused in order to be happy. Riches can’t change who you are on the inside unless you let it.