Inventors work full time at their “day jobs” and nights and weekends spending time, energy, and capital hoping their inventions will someday “hit it big.” Yet less than 3% of patent holders ever profit from their inventions.
Inventors hold the keys to success in our 21st century economy.
How can a profession where 97% of the participants fail hold the keys to success? Hear me out.
First a reality check regarding success in any profession: success is never correlated with following the crowd – that produces average performers.
Within any profession, only a small group of people may achieve top echelon success.
We are endlessly fascinated with stories about silicon valley startups that become huge successes. But according to one study, 92% of all high-growth startups fail within the first 3 years. The huge successes are a small fraction of the 8% that “succeed ” by staying in business beyond the third year – probably well less than 1% of all companies. While J.K. Rowling is a billionaire from her Harry Potter books, the average author earns perhaps $10,000 per year.
Benefit by Thinking Differently
While following the crowd leads only to average achievement (and wages), understanding and exploiting an emerging trend, thinking differently, can lead to success. To quote Steve Jobs:
“Here’s to the crazy ones — the misfits, the rebels, the troublemakers, the round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently — they’re not fond of rules. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them, but the only thing you can’t do is ignore them because they change things. They push the human race forward, and while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius, because the ones who are crazy enough to think that they can change the world, are the ones who do.”
While his quote certainly described Steve Jobs, it also describes every inventor.
Thinking differently involves risk and is no guarantee of success, but every successful entrepreneur thinks differently than most people do.
Why Inventors are Uniquely Positioned to Succeed
Compared to many other “different” thinkers, inventors are uniquely positioned to succeed in the 21st century. Why? Here are three specific reasons.
All companies must innovate and create new products and business lines to succeed in a competitive global economy; or else they will stagnate and fail. Yet most corporations are terrible innovators: they are good at defending the status quo, not good at thinking differently. Inventors are great at innovation and creating new products. That is why more and more companies turn to independent inventors to find and license new innovative products.
A college degree is still one of the best ways to a better future. But skyrocketing tuitions have saddled today’s students with massive loan debts. The good news: inventing does not require a college degree (or even a high school diploma). It requires a creative thinker who recognizes problems and intuits unique solutions to them: new products. There is a growing cadre of teenage inventors.
Technology is the inventor’s best friend. Need to research a patent? Search on the US patent database on uspto.gov. Need to learn the marketing direction of a potential licensee of your product? Read their annual reports and quarterly statements, the information you need is all there for free.Valuable data that used to cost thousands or tens of thousands of dollars is now at your fingertips for free or very inexpensive. The first step to turning an idea into a product is to do research, lots of research.
How do I know all of the above is true? Because it has worked out very well for me (only took 13 years of hard work). It has also worked out well for a number of my friends and colleagues, all of whom happen to be inventors.