The transition from inventor to entrepreneur isn’t easy. Not all inventors have the keen business acumen needed to get a product to market. And most businesspeople simple lack any technical or engineering experience.
Thomas Edison and Steve Jobs are probably the best examples. Edison didn’t invent the lightbulb and Jobs never wrote any code, but they both managed to create immensely successful businesses that sold these products across the world.
If you’ve got a clever invention or new idea, bringing it to market is going to be a genuine challenge. Inventors and innovators often struggle to tap into new markets and sell their solutions. Here’s what you need to know:
Do your research
What sets inventors and entrepreneurs apart is the way they work. Entrepreneurs spend a lot of time planning and understanding the market before taking a bold step forward. Inventors, on the other hand, would rather spend the time experimenting to see what works.
You can apply your research experience to the market you hope to enter. Collect data on industrial machinery buyers if you want to offer a clever automatic crane hook, or study the grooming and nail salon market if you have a new nail filer. Apply the same A-B testing and statistical analysis to business that you would to any scientific hypothesis.
Document it all
Writing it down is the first step in the patenting process. You can’t really rely on the “poor man’s patent” – mailing yourself the design in a sealed envelope. Instead have someone witness you writing the design details in an inventor’s journal. That’s more likely to hold up in court.
Make a prototype
Do not start the patent process without a working prototype. The prototype will help you solve minor bugs in the design before you head to the patent office. The process for getting a patent is arduous, but if a patent is granted for your product you’ll be on your way to a business much sooner.
Ask for help
Reach out to other inventors and patent lawyers to help you with the process. Do your homework and find a lawyer with a technical background and enough experience with patents in your country.
Pick a business model
There are, essentially, two business models for new inventions – licensing and direct selling. You can either license your patent to big businesses that want to manufacture the product and sell it or set up a business and sell it yourself. There’s a lot of factors you need to consider before you pick between the two. You need to analyze the best fit for your invention, the amount of risk you can tolerate, and your ability to run a business.
You’ve probably spent a tremendous amount of time coming up with your invention, but going to market is likely to take even longer. It’s a long and intensive process which isn’t appealing to everyone. If you’re determined to start on your own and set up a business, reach out to experts who can help you. Follow the steps mentioned here and your products could hit the shelves much faster.