The process of invention is talked about everywhere, but how many people actually know what an invention is? To understand how to invent something new, we must first answer this vital question.
Our definition of an inventor and their inventions is different than what we see in those advertisements. You know, those ads that are claiming to help you bring your invention ideas to market. Just because you come up with great ideas this does not mean that you an inventor. And precisely, what do we think counts as an invention?
Our definition of an inventor
It is our feeling that you are not an inventor unless you are capable of seeing those ideas through and turning them into a reality. We all have great ideas, but very few of us can take the concept beyond our brains. An inventor must come up with ideas and then be able to apply them to real-world applications. It doesn’t matter if you have a patent or even just a sketch, you are still just an idea person if you can’t take it any further.
Inventors can get those ideas out of their heads and bring them to life so that people can benefit from them. It doesn’t matter if you sell your patent, licenses the idea, or go as far as building the products on your own. You are a true inventor if you can get this far.
It won’t be easy getting to the point of having a real invention to put your name on, but if you do, the rewards will be well worth the effort.
What is an invention?
While our definition of an inventor is narrow, our definition of an invention is much broader. In our eyes, an invention is any product or service that you can create that people will use. Your invention does not have to solve a problem or even make money. It does, however, have to have a real demand by people beyond your family and friends.
Things we consider inventions:
- Electronic products and gadgets.
- Any physical product.
- Clothes and jewelry.
- Food items, including dog food, snacks, packaged goods, etc.
- Any item you can create to sell.
Inventors and money
In our current world political climate, the discussion about money can be a difficult one. Our stance regarding earning money from your invention ideas depends on what you are trying to accomplish.
If you have an amazing idea and claim that it will help solve world problems, that is great. The problem is that you need to be more realistic and understand that the invention process itself is timeconsuming and costs money. If you want to save the world, you must first manufacture your product and ship it around the globe. How will you accomplish this lofty feat if you don’t make any money in the process?
How to invent something new
Now that you understand the requirements as an inventor, you can begin to think about how to invent something new. It may sound difficult so far, but this is because you haven’t learned the secrets that those invention help places will never reveal.
How to invent something new the correct way
- Find a niche market.
- Look for voids in available products.
- Define mid-priced products.
- Come up with invention ideas.
- Do your patent and design research.
- Sketch your product ideas.
- Create a model in software.
- Build a working prototype.
- Refine your product design.
- Prepare for manufacturing.
- Launch your first product.
- Land your first sale!
We discuss each of these steps closer in The Twelve Steps of Inventing HERE. This guide should be a great start in helping you change the way you think of an invention. Once you do that, you probably will never run out of real ideas that you can turn into a reality and, more importantly, make money.
In all honesty, there probably aren’t too many truly new or unique invention ideas. Most of the time, as inventors, we are just trying to improve something that already exists or that makes life more comfortable or enjoyable.
Misinformation and inventing
You will see all kinds of bad advice on the internet about inventing. Here are a few of the things that get copied and pasted over and over in the Google search results. This advice is obviously coming from people who have never invented anything!
- Cultivate the idea.
- Believe in yourself.
- Find a problem worth solving.
- Do research.
- File a patent.
- Build a prototype.
- Protect your idea.
- Manufacture or license your idea.
- Test the market.
Sounds simple enough, so go ahead and follow these tips just like they are listed. A word of warning, if you do decide to follow them without the proper knowledge, you will, in all likelihood, fail with your first invention idea.
Cultivate the idea
Let’s look at the order of this list first. You are told to cultivate the concept before understanding the marketplace for which your idea will be available. Very rarely do successful inventions start as ideas before the creator understands the market. There are exceptions like Post-It Notes, but more often than not, the inventor has a clear sense that there are people out there ready to buy the product once manufactured. So as we learned in The Twelve Steps of Inventing, make sure you identify where the customers are from the beginning.
Believe in yourself
Did someone really use this as an invention tip? Are you not confident in your abilities to succeed in life? If not, being an inventor shouldn’t be your first career choice. You can expect to fail many more times than you succeed. If you plan on knowing how to invent something new, you will have to prepare for many possible outcomes.
Find a problem worth solving
Probably the most misinformed advice of all. With the advent of technology and the internet, very few new inventions solve problems. Most of the time, invention ideas start as part of the inventor’s hobbies or interests and grows from there. There are millions of products that get released over the years that do nothing more than entertain our children and us. Beyond that, there are even less exciting products that have made millions doing nothing other than being an Elf sitting on a shelf.
Another excellent example of a completely useless idea that made its inventor a millionaire was appropriately named the Pet Rock.
Design, patent, and market research are crucial steps in the invention process. You will analyze your potential market further, look for existing patents, and begin to change your design based on what you discover. The idea that you originally envisioned may turn out to be very different when completed. Telling you to do research won’t be very helpful unless you know what answers you are seeking. For one, you need to find any existing patents that are similar to your idea. You will likely find a few patents that seem to conflict with your idea, but you will learn how to design around them.
File a patent
I believe that your boat has floated down the wrong river. If you are reading this article, I assume that you are on a budget and just trying to learn the truths of the invention process. The most significant piece of misinformation regarding inventions is from all of those, so-called, invention help company scams.
Filing patents the correct way is a time consuming, complicated, and expensive process. If you plan on spending a few hundred dollars on one of those “provisional applications.” be warned that they will do little to protect your idea. It’s not that we are against patents, it’s just that we have seen the lies and exaggerations by all those invention help places. Here is an article we did about how you can protect your invention idea.
Build a prototype.
How do we define a prototype? Invention Therapy is very different in its approach to inventing. You may think that a prototype is some crude, duct-taped cardboard version of your invention idea. In our view, it must be 99% ready for manufacturing when the prototype is complete.
With the advent of 3D design software like Fusion 360, Solidworks, and Eagle PCB, we can create the entire design in the virtual world. There we will work out most of the bugs and issues. Low-cost online services can then 3D print our parts or make a few test circuit boards for us. The services that we need are only a few mouse clicks away. It isn’t that hard to learn how to make your invention idea a reality.
While Solidworks and Fusion 360 licenses can be expensive, there are more reasonably priced alternatives for a few hundred dollars.
Turbocad is the first 3D CAD program that I learned and it allowed me to design my original products with ease. As I began to improve my industrial design skills, moving to Solidworks was easy due to the experience gained from Turbocad.
We may have to build a few versions of the prototype over several times. Once we get it right, it will be an easy jump directly to manufacturing and release our first one hundred units.
Protect your idea.
You may think that a patent somehow magically protects your idea. If you receive a patent, it could get expensive for you to protect it. Legal battles are costly, and lawyers never take these cases without some money upfront. Promises of a share of the profits will get you nowhere because they have heard those pleas many times before. If you have the money to protect your idea and are willing to bear the costs associated with defending a patent, this may be an option for you. You need to understand the realities that you could be facing.
Manufacture or license your idea.
We are not fans of licensing and believe that this is a concept, for the most part, leftover in the days before the internet and easy access to worldwide manufacturing. Most of the people teaching this concept haven’t licensed product ideas since the1980’s.
We have heard of a few licensing success stories from our viewers. Those deals were all done by people who knew how to find the companies on their own. They were also able to close their product licensing deals, on their own, without paying all those invention help fees. In the end, their licensing agreements were for a thousand or even a few thousand dollars with no residuals. The cost in time of writing the patent, filing it, and finding a company willing to pay for the license quickly ate up any real profits. If you choose to license an idea, understand that your idea may have much more value if you build it on your own.
Test the market.
We save the worst advice for last. The only way to test the market is for you to manufacture the product, create a website, and start selling it online. Asking friends or businesses if they like the idea or would be interesting in buying some, will not answer the real question. That question is simple: Will people be willing to spend money on my product? You will only find the answer out once you have them for sale.
You can be a successful inventor
The key to success at being an inventor is to use your instinct to guide you in the beginning. As you learn and get experience, this part will get easier. You will start to recognize opportunities in marketplaces without even looking for them. You will know when you are onto the right idea that is worth investing your time and money.
You may think that you already know how to be an inventor. Unless you have done it before and aren’t listening to those so-called experts, you will have a long road ahead of you. Invention Therapy is here to guide you and save you from all the challenges that come up during the invention process. It is our goal to help you to invent something new without going broke like Charles Goodyear.