I and many others have written about how risky it is to be an inventor. If you are reading this you either are already an inventor or want to be an inventor.
Let's talk about reasons why you should be an inventor!
- Barriers to entry are low
- Tools and resources are ubiquitous
- Companies must have new innovative products to thrive
Barriers to Entry are Low
Fill in the blank: he/she is a wealthy __________.
We might fill the blank with doctor, lawyer, or investment banker. Indeed there are many millionaires in all three of those professional careers across America. But the barriers to entry are high.
Doctors must obtain an undergraduate degree, then attend medical school – at least 8 years of college tuition and expenses – then residency. Specialists and surgeons often require an additional 4 years of education. A new doctor may easily begin her practice with over $200,000 in college debt.
Lawyers face 4 years of college and 3 years of law school. Investment bankers have similar challenges: Goldman Sachs typically accepts only 4% of applicants for new financial analysts position; and they favor Ivy League graduates.
A successful inventor doesn't need a college degree, only an innovative product that solves a problem millions of people have. There is no barrier to entry: anyone can be an inventor, even a teenager.
Tools and Resources are Ubiquitous
When I filed my first patent in 2002, there was no Shark Tank TV show, no Kickstarter, Indiegogo or other crowdfunding sources, financing sources from banks or others were almost non-existent, 3D printers were only laboratory abstracts.
Today, resources accessible to every inventor are ubiquitous. There has never been a better time to be an inventor. Anyone can create a Kickstarter or Indiegogo campaign with some creativity and a decent video to showcase his invention. Can't get a bank loan for you new product? Global crowdsourced funding for new products reached $34 billion in 2015.
Inventors appearing on ABC's Shark Tank have created hundreds of millions in sales of their products collectively.
So-called maker's spaces are popping up in major metropolitan areas across the nation. Maker's spaces typically have 3D printers, CNC machines (computerized numerical control), and other tools for creative construction. Most charge a small monthly fee to be a member and provide training and round the clock access to the equipment.
There are inventor's organizations in just about every state and lots of online resources. Most universities and community colleges have valuable experts in engineering and other topics.
The resources are truly ubiquitous, cost-effective, and available to any inventor willing to invest some time. Isn't that fantastic?
Companies Must have New Innovative Products to Thrive
Historically, the product lifecycle consisted of three distinct phases: growth, maturity, and decline. Rapid advances in technology have reduced the count to only two: growth and decline. Remember the PalmPilot, Blackberry, and Blockbuster Video? All three suffered from the same technology paradigm: innovate or deteriorate.
Here is the corporate dilemma: most large corporations are terrible at innovation.
This is the way we have always done it (said Radio Shack) is a de facto mission statement for most companies. How do such companies survive? Simple, they find and adopt innovations produced by others.
Companies need new products but are awful innovators; inventors are excellent innovators but need capital to succeed.
There has never been a better time to license your invention. As an inventor, you must find them, because they won't find you. It will be a difficult and slow journey requiring patience and persistence – you will have to convince them of the merits of your product.
But, I can tell you from personal experience, it is worth it. I will never have to look for a job again.