From Inventor to Entrepreneur: Don’t Stop Your Own Success
I’ve recently been working with two first time entrepreneurs and they started their businesses in exactly the same way.
They focused all their efforts on protecting their original idea.
They were so wrapped up in holding their small gold nugget to their chest they were stopping their own success. Unfortunately, I see it happening ALOT!
One was a lady who didn’t have a whole lot of money but she was convinced her product idea was going to transform her and her families life into a life without
worries and pressure.
She put herself into debt – about $12K worth of debt last count – to start the process of patenting her product idea with a local patent attorney. It felt like as close as you could get in business to a lottery ticket.
The other person had also focused on the patent process – spending a significant amount of time and money on the drawings you need to file and after going through that process – he’d come to a stop, not knowing what came next…
They had both pretty much hit a brick wall after getting caught up in the patent process.
So are you in the right place?
Well, if you can answer “Yes” to wanting to take an idea and turn it into a product or having a passion to start a product based business, if you have a vision of building a life where you’re in control of your destiny by bringing a product to market – then yes, you’re in the right place.
You are an inventor wanting to make the transition to ‘entrepreneur’.
It could be a physical product or a product online – this is not the right post for you if:
- You want to start a service business (will be doing webinars on that)
- You are looking for a get rich quick method
How will this help?
Well we’ll briefly cover some strategies so you can take your idea or product and focus on the right things to increase your chance of a successful launch. In other words, how you should be investing you time, what you should be focusing on to get your new product going.
- Keep it simple – give you three strategies to help you with your product launch focus
- Keep it efficient
- At the end – Give you a tool to help you start immediately after the webinar wraps up
Lets get into it…
Started my first ‘professional’ job at Procter & Gamble – even launched a product as an interim before starting for real, then did it for real.
P&G people have:
- A system
- Support staff
- Dollars (big budget)
When I was 12 came up with a product idea, and while at school, decide to do it.
I literally wasted months worry about protecting my idea.
Hours at USPTO.gov and even took some runs down to Patents Office in Alexandria to the Inventors Assistance Center
Spent (not invested but spent…there’s a big difference because I had nothing tangible to show for it…)
- hours, days
I had had enough…I wanted to get going, to start talking to people, to start building. Not screwing around with paperwork and drawings. And even so, not knowing if we were doing it right or wasting out time.
It got to the point where I said I’ve had enough and decided to move forward anyway…
But my business partner, who’s home was in Virginia wanted to make one more run at the head office – to see if he could meet someone that could help us.
The guy at the desk (although he wasn’t allowed) did us a favor and introduced us to a recently retired head patent examiner, a person who had literally evaluated patents for US Patent and Trademark Office – recently retired. He was one of the main guys who looked at thousands of patents and decided if they would be accepted or rejected – he knew exactly what a good patent needed to be.
But – and this is something we found out later – he knew the strategies of how to use patents that only typically – only the big companies have figured out.
He had 40 years of experience to share…and we were listening…
His strategies literally transformed how we went to market and our success.
So – before I go any further – I’d like you to do two things…
Type in your questions in the box below and I’ll try to get to as many as I can by the end..
The second thing is – we’re going to be talking about some strategies I was given by a man who had dedicated himself to what makes a good patent – but I need to make sure you know – this is not legal advice, I am not an attorney, I’m literally talking about conversations I and my partner had with the retired head examiner for patents – so not legal advice, get your own legal advisor.
Also – last point – these strategies were ultimately tested when a company tried to take our designs but I’ll tell you more about that at the end.
If you want to bring a product to market and are developing it – you’re an inventor.
Most inventors freak out about protecting their idea.
To the point where their paranoia kills their idea.
I’m guessing there are probably thousands of products which have never seen the light the light of day, have never made their inventors a dime and have never helped anyone. Probably some truly great products that would have enriched mankind. All because their inventor held their idea too close and suffocated it.
But does that mean you should not worry about protection?
Should you just say “screw it” and just focus on trying to bring your product to market?
But what about…
- People stealing your idea?
- Companies who find out about your idea trying to do it first?
- Making sure you get paid for your cool idea?
- Keeping control of it so you don’t waste…
- because someone else just plain rips you off.
If you are stressed about any of these – STOP right now!
Wow! though with all those negative thoughts – I can understand why people never tell anyone about their cool ideas….
But lets change the frame for a second…
Lets say you are a fantastic author – and you’ve written the perfect novel – how satisfied will you be putting that novel in a closet somewhere and never letting anyone read it, not publishing it, not putting it on your bookshelf, not passing on a copy to your friends, relatives and kids when they’re old enough to appreciate it?
The satisfaction of being a creator is seeing your creation enter the world and make its own way – its like being a parent.
Does that mean you need to be unprotected?
NO! That’s not what I’m saying…
So should you invest thousands and months going through the patent process before you are allowed to speak about your product to anyone?
Your call but I wouldn’t…
3 Critical Strategies to Transition from Inventor to Entrepreneur:
1) File! Give yourself a week and file.
Getting that filing date, that ‘patent pending’ is starting the protection clock…from filing its ‘private’ for approximately 18 months. During that time you can get the concept validated, discuss it with potential acquirers, manufacturers, joint venture partners, employees, anyone and they cannot see the details of the patent. Costs circa $400 to file or $200 if small entity.
2) Pat Pending is Good! And it Iterative
The details of the patent are not public – if its not public it can’t be written around. What do I mean by written around?
Patents should be written to cover the product and its configurations as all encompassing as possible – to cover tweaks and slight difference. Giving you the ability to evolve and improve your product and still be protected and to stop others from copying your product while making a few slight change to claim its ‘different’
Watch out: Too broad and the patent will get rejected
The patent process is iterative – i.e the examiners give feedback and you can tweak, respond, evolve – it doesn’t have to be perfect in the beginning – you never know what they won’t like about it and they’ll probably find something – but again – its iterative
Key Nugget: As your patent gets awarded, file additional patents covering evolutions of the utility or design, tweaks, new elements – keep a patent pending status continuously – competitors can write around a public patent but if you always have a patent pending – they don’t know what it covers – often safer to talk to you and do a deal.
3) OK – you’ve filed your patent/s and you have patent pending – whats strategy number 3?
Test the concept and move forward ASAP.You have an 18 month clock ticking. GET ON IT! And if you need help, just ask!
You need to:
- Validate the idea
- Figure out the right business model
- Pull a team together
- Sign up some customers
- Get some money to make this real
Get customer feedback as inexpensively and as quickly as possible and prove your concept.
As you engage with customers, you idea should grow and shift until hit directly hits the target.
Cheap Ways to Test Your New Product Idea…
a) Survey monkey
b) email survey
c) Create a two page website with the product mocked up, a buy button and collect email addresses of people who want to buy
d) Get would be customer together
e) Speak – ask for feedback
So top line:
- Don’t spend months on the patents
- Don’t spend a fortune on them – you can do them on your own (we did most of it ourselves with guidance from the retired head examiner I mentioned…)
- Get them filed and then get going…
- Don’t let your fear or your possessiveness kill your idea
Some Patent attorney’s will try to scare the heck out of you…
…find one that pragmatic and understand the business strategies of patents – they are both a tool to protect and also to help your business.
When someone tried to take our product – we had patents and patents pending. It cost us more than $2M to protect ourselves and our product. So even having a patent is no guarantee unless you have that kind of money sitting around. Companies who are unethical will not only consider if you have a patent or patent pending but also if you have the resources to protect yourself over the long haul.
It comes down to the numbers.
My personal take on it is – our best protection was actually having the product in the market, having customers, hang the product already in stores and having a track record. That gave more substance to our case. So patents are good, patent pending is great, having a real business with customers and track record. Those elements are critical.
So that give you a few key points on strategies we adopted with the launch of our product.
I also mentioned that our patents were tested…
We ended up in a huge legal battle after a company decided they would launch a copy of our product. The fire escape ladder I’d invented when I was twelve years old. It took two years, time my business partner dedicated his life to fighting and it cost us $2M++ of our investors money to fight. It was a stressful, expensive and at times, painful process.
There was a good ending though as a judge awarded my company the largest award in Virginia state history. The company was called X-IT Products LLC and it was awarding $116M. The patents cost us very little to file. 🙂
So if you have a product idea don’t stifle it.
You’ll be happier when its real, when its out in the market, when people benefit from it and when you have money coming in from it, giving you the freedom and independence you could have if its live and successful.
I hope this has excited you and shown you you can take your product and make it real.
My promise was I’d help guide you on where you should focus most of your time and energy.
So the obvious question is – what’s next?
If you are committed to taking your product and making it real, if you are committed from right now to do it and bring your product to life.
I’d like to help.
If you think you’d like some help to make your product successful, contact me personally, I’d like to help. Contact Us.
One more thing – there are different strategies for why you go through the process of launching a product:
1) To build a business
2) To get a bigger company interested launching your product and paying you royalties
3) Because you have the itch to do it and it would be cool… 🙂
All are valid – and there’s something special I’d like to tell you about to help you, so if you want to take your product to market, I can help you do it…this is limited so find out more.
Either click the button below or leave me a voice message via the voice message button on the right of the page (cool huh!)
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