Inventors, by our very nature, are creative people. Most of us don’t fit well into the constraining world of corporate policies and bureaucracy. We are not good at following rules, we prefer to make our own rules, to chart our own paths!

Because we ask questions that others don’t – “Isn’t there a better way to do this?” – we find solutions that others won’t. While others are binge-watching Game of Thrones, we are toiling away at prototypes of new, innovative, and, hopefully, better products to benefit everyone.

Why shouldn’t inventors reinvent the wheel, isn’t that what we are supposed to do?

Yes, and no. Read on for details.

DIY or Learn from Others

It’s great to take a clean slate approach, to be totally unconstrained and flexible while developing new inventions. But, dreaming up new ideas is just a tiny part of developing a new product that can be sold into the commercial marketplace – only the ‘tip of the iceberg’ to use one more cliché.

Believe it or not, there truly is a process for developing new inventive products. Below are some of the key elements of the process:

  • Designing and building prototypes
  • Developing sell sheets and other marketing materials
  • Researching to determine if your product is already out there
  • Conducting initial patent searches on your product
  • Financial options to finance your invention
  • Licensing your product
  • Building your product and marketing it yourself
  • Designing packaging for your product
  • Determining appropriate wholesale and retail price points for your product

In 2002, when I filed my first patent on my slim wallets, I truly knew nothing about inventing. So, I did – or attempted to do – all of the above by myself, for two reasons:

  1. I didn’t know any better
  2. There were not a lot of resources to help me

So, for me, every step of my product development process involved reinventing the wheel – DIY and hope for the best. Maybe that is why it took me incredibly long time to finally get real traction for my first invention and get it to commercial success. There were resources to help me with the key elements of the process, but they were few in number then.

Today, the situation is completely different. There is simply no reason to reinvent the wheel on any of the above unless you choose to do so. Instead of being a DIY’er why not learn from others who have already done it successfully?

Short of funds and not able to get a bank loan? No problem, set up a Kickstarter or Indiegogo campaign for your product – use OPM, other people’s money. Josh Malone did an amazingly successful Kickstarter campaign for his invention, Bunch o Balloons and raised an enormous sum of money that catapulted his product into into success. Need help with licensing your product? I know of three trustworthy sources (there are probably others): Lambert & Lambert, University of Wisconsin Innovation Center, and me (sorry, I had to do a plug for myself). Perhaps one of the best sources of assistance is to locate an inventor’s group near where you live – here is one list.

By working with others who have already done what you seek to do and learning from them, you may cut years off your journey to success. Isn’t that what you want?

Stay tuned!