Close your eyes for a moment and visualize a ‘typical' inventor and his or her work environment.

Let me guess, I'll bet you envisioned Thomas Edison toiling away for years all alone in his lab trying to finally find a filament that would produce light when electricity was applied across it. Almost certainly, you pictured a person working alone in their home or garage to develop their idea into an invention. Am I right?

Such ‘lone wolf inventor' visages have a degree of accuracy because inventing requires a lot of creative, quiet thinking, and problem solving. But, behind every successful inventor there is a team of helpers – no inventor can succeed alone.

It Takes a Village

Here is a short list of activities that you, as an inventor cannot – or probably should not – do by yourself:

  • Write and file a patent application – you need help from a patent attorney or agent
  • Build a prototype for your invention – you may need help to create a working prototype
  • Import your product – you will need a US customs broker, a freight forwarder, and a manufacturer
  • Get your product on QVC – odds are much better if you work with an agent or rep
  • Get your product approved by UL for consumer use – third party testing will be required

I mentioned this is a short list, because I really think over time that your team of helpers will be much longer than the above.

Instead of thinking of a team working together under one roof – the traditional view – you should expand your thinking to a much larger virtual team that may be located worldwide.

Here are is a description of some of my team members over the years:

  • PR agents who helped me get TV exposure and publicity for my invention
  • A QVC rep who shepherded my product successfully to the QVC buyer – thanks, Brandon
  • A gentleman in Shenzhen who has done great prototypes for me, cost-effectively
  • A seamstress who sewed 3 nice prototypes for me to pitch my wallet for licensing
  • A infomercial guru who was instrumental in my wallet product becoming a sell-on-TV hit
  • My entire team for importing – I used for over 8 years successfully – freight forwarder and US customs broker
  • A physics professor who made tweaks to my electronic cat toy – for free

I think you get the point.

You simply cannot do it all by yourself, nor should you attempt to do so. Do what you can do on your own as it will save you a lot of precious capital, but don't hesitate to look for additional resources. Helpers will speed your journey to success.

Oh, last point. Avoid scammers at all cost. Invention marketing companies will quickly empty your wallet and bank account with no value in return – their numbers are legion.

For more information, here are two recent blog posts I have written about invention marketing companies and how to avoid being snared by them:

Stay tuned.