Invention is at the core of humanity and has been a part of advancements since our ancestors first walked the world. Developing things into a mass marketing phenomenon, however, can be attributed to the market and demand.
If you think you have a great idea, you no doubt want to see it take off. But now that you have this idea for an invention, where do you begin?
The creation of your invention is a process. So it is time to learn the steps involved bringing your idea into reality.
Step 1: Document Everything
Though a seemingly simple step in the beginning, it is also the most important. Buy a bound “inventor’s journal.” Have you and a witness sign the book so that you have dated proof of when the project began, which will be useful for the patenting process.
You will not find many inventors who skipped this almost ritualized process of logging every single step they took. Leonardo da Vinci, for example, kept a cryptic notebook with him where his thoughts throughout the day were recorded.
Whether you need to sketch, write out descriptions, or record your thoughts as an audio clip, make sure you record your ideas so you can revisit them later.
From there, as you begin to build and experiment, keep a log of supply receipts. Make sure you know what you used and when.
This not only lets you further your ideas and revise them, but it lets you see just how much supplies the project needs. As you make different modules, record the construction process (if applicable) or take photographs—much like how bakers take step-by-step pictures of their recipes for tutorials.
Step 2: Research
Once you have come up with a completed vision of your invention, you need to do some research. Running off to the first patent attorney will have to wait.
See, having success with your invention comes from two things:
Is it marketable? Can it be protected by a patent?
First, just because you have yet to see anything like your invention on the market does not mean a patent does not already exist for something similar. Because of this, you need to run a “patent search” to make sure.
Remember that not every invention needs to be patented. You only need a patent if you intend to license your invention to a manufacturer or sell it.
Next, you need to research the desired market. Asking your mother and brother what they think about your idea does not include market research. Who is this product targeting? Will people actually be willing to spend money on it? Why would your product benefit them over someone else’s?
You need to develop a deep understanding of what the market is searching for but cannot yet find. Then, you have to do side-by-side comparisons of your invention next to existing products, which may become your competitors.
Step 3: Prototype
With your heaps of documented ideas and research, you are now ready to fabricate your prototype.
General rules of thumb for building a prototype include:
Simplicity. Make sure your prototype is free of over complicated technology or redundancies. It should be aesthetically pleasing and easy to take apart.
Mediums. By turning your idea into a digital model, 3D model, and using various mediums, you get a general “feel” for the product. From there, you can begin to decide what the final prototype should look like.
Instructions. Again, never forget to document the process. As you build up the prototype, make instructions for yourself so you do not forget how to make another.
Without a prototype, you will not the leverage needed to make a pitch to lenders and licensees. Use you designs as part of the selling point to get investors intrigued in backing you.
Prototypes will help you locate any flaws in design so that you can rebuild and perfect the invention before patenting.
Step 4: Protection
Congratulations, you now have a shiny prototype, a physicalized idea that you have to protect from others who may try to steal it. Finally, you have reached the stage where filing for a provisional patent.
A Provisional Application for Patent can be filed online with the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) and is an inexpensive way to begin protecting your prototype while having the flexibility to fully flesh it out.
This way, should you pursue the full patent application, you can do market testing and all other necessities beforehand.
A Provisional Application also secures a priority filing date if you seek a non-Provisional Patent within 12 months of filing.
The patent application can be time consuming, but do not get flustered! The Provisional Application for Patent is a must-do for all inventors who want to shield their idea while still in the testing phase.
Step 5: Build It or Sell It
The final step is deciding whether you want to build the actual product yourself and sell it or try to sell the rights to a manufacturer for money.
You can decide by considering the following:
How will you fund your project? Can you handle the financial burden? Where will you manufacture this project? How will you market it to the masses? Also, how will you get it to buyers abroad? Are there any investors or crowdsourcing platforms that you can use?
In the long run, selling off the rights to a fully patented product could earn you more money that fabricating it yourself. You can do this by having an item made overseas then shipped to fulfillment services.—
When you have an idea for an incredible invention, follow these steps. An idea does not have to remain an idea if you document, do your research on former patents and the market, build your prototype, file for a provisional patent, and finally decided whether to make your product or sell the rights. Though the process is long and trying, in the end, knowing you have created a life-changing invention is worth it.