As an inventor and consultant, I feel part of my mission is to help aspiring inventors; in some cases by discouraging them from being inventors. Why?
The odds of success for a new aspiring inventor are less than 5%, perhaps less than 2% – about the same odds of becoming a successful actor. Wow.
On the bright side, successful inventors bring innovative products to market; and, in the process, create jobs and boost the economy. Lori Greiner, Shark Tank entrepreneur and the putative Queen of QVC, has over 100 patents to her name. Her products have collectively grossed over $500 million in sales. What if she had gotten discouraged and simply given up on inventing?
What separates the few successful inventors from the minions of failures? There is no single answer to that question, but I strongly believe the reason one chooses to be an inventor has everything to do with their chances of success.
Below are three good reasons for choosing to be an inventor:
- I am curious about everything and see problems to be fixed everywhere
- The challenges of converting ideas into prototypes and then products feels like fun to me
- I would be unhappy if I were not working on my inventions
I am curious about everything and see problems to be fixed everywhere
The above statement describes me perfectly and is a key reason I chose to become an engineer, then later a project manager and inventor. The reality is that engineers and project managers rarely get to fix and tinker with things much, but inventors do. That is why I am an inventor. I am curious about many things and see lots of problems to be fixed.
While I was in college, I discovered that most people are not curious, problem solvers at all. Most people are interested and focused upon their primary career endeavor, but are not curious about why huge Baleen whales eat massive quantities of tiny organisms or why dogs shake a certain way when they get wet or many other topics.
Having an almost insatiable curiosity and wanting to fix things is an integral part of every successful inventor. It is a key reason they see problems others do not and create ideas others don't.
The challenges of converting ideas into prototypes and then products feels like fun to me
This is a reason why the media loves to portray inventors as eccentrics and oddballs. Most people simply do not like figuring things out; especially in circumstances where there is no right or wrong answer. They like certainty – the correct answer – not chaos and ambivalence.
I must honestly admit that while it feels like fun, it is in fact a lot of hard work surrounded with continual frustration.
Inventing is full of starts and stops, roadblocks, detours, and sometimes having to start over. If you cannot see fun in rising to these challenges, you'll never be a successful inventor.
I would be unhappy if I were not working on my inventions
In the above paragraph, I described the daily frustrations of being an inventor. Successful inventors, even while struggling with the challenges of one invention, eagerly anticipate getting to work on their next product. Simply put, no matter what else they may do, they would not be happy if they weren't working on new ideas, new inventions.
This is crucial for long term success because most inventions don't pan out and provide a successful financial outcome. The more one enjoys the process of being an inventor, the more they will persist to overcome continual challenges and frustrations. Over time, their chances of finding one or more successful products grows.