It happens to everyone at one time or another. You’re working on some type of problem and you realize – you’ve got a much better way of solving it. Or perhaps, you’re playing around with something and it hits you – if you could just add a few minor features, it would be perfect! After brainstorming your idea, you realize – you just might have something worthwhile to others. You’ve got your idea. Now what do you do?
- Without discouraging yourself, recognize the reality. Ideas are a dime a dozen and some people have multiple intriguing new ideas each day. Ideas cannot be patented, so there is often a lot of work to be done between first getting the idea and getting to something that can be patented. Remember – this is not meant to discourage you, but is meant to level-set expectations.
- Document your idea. What does it do? How does it work? What does it look like? What problem does it solve? How large is it? What is the process to use it? In this step, you should be asking yourself every question you can think of and answer the question in paper form.
In fact, it’s best to get what is known as an “inventor’s journal” – a diary in which pages cannot be removed or added and are consecutively numbered. As you document your ideas, get a witness to sign and date each page. This begins your protection process and can prove you thought of the idea first.
- Research your idea. Not only should you see if your product already exist, but you should do some basic business research. Yes, you may have a great idea, but the reality is that many inventors lose money on their inventions. Before spending lots of time and money, define your target market, define your risk/reward ratio and find out how much potential customers would spend for your solution.
- Start writing, creating, prototyping, drafting, or otherwise making up your actual invention. Once you’re satisfied with your creation, it’s finally time to:
- File your patent. Make sure you have your documentation (inventor’s journal), your research and your prototype. It will make the entire application process much easier.
Helpful Tips During the Process:
This is not a linear process. Some inventors iterate through steps 1-4 multiple times before applying for their patent. In fact, some inventors mix up the steps. They may start prototyping an idea and then create the documentation when they are happy with their prototype.
Give yourself a break if you get stuck. Most successful entrepreneurs have times where they just seem to become stagnant. Take a small break and get back to it when the urge hits.
Consult the experts: Very few successful inventors do everything themselves. Most get legal help, business help and marketing or sales help from experts in the field.