Inventing, or shall I say, Successful Inventing is a bit of a mystery to most people. We often take that great new kitchen appliance, awesome laptop bag, or crazy new-fangled gizmo for granted. There are so many products that improve our lives that we use every day, yet how they came to be is a BIG unknown. It seems easy from afar, but it is not.
I know this first hand as I like to think of myself as an Inventor-in-Training. About 75% of the way through the inventing process and 14 months in, I know a bit about inventing. When I started my so-called adventure, I knew NOTHING about inventing, and I even thought I may be selling by now….HA!
Fast, easy, and quick are not words that describe inventing, but rewarding and cool absolutely do the trick. How motivating is it to think that YOU may invent the next IT thing. That is what more than likely makes people want to chase their ideas and inventing dreams. Having knowledge of the inventing process, the business world, and solid market research are a few of the elements that make inventing the next IT thing possible and successful.
I get asked inventing-related questions all the time, and I thought it would be fabulous to have Jim Debetta answer them for you.
Jim is ‘known nationally as a trusted coach and mentor to thousands of inventors and entrepreneurs, he knows how to take new ideas from a sketch on a napkin to selling the final product to major retailers worldwide.’ Jim makes inventing a reality with his easy to understand steps and clear direction to run inventing as a biz.
Without waiting another minute, here are a few of your most frequently asked questions about inventing answered by Jim Debetta:
RB: Jim, this blog is full of mommas with great product ideas to move forward. Can you speak to the large numbers of moms in the inventing and products business? Why does it seem like there are so many?
JD: This is the case in many businesses, women are in all types of business NOW and taking charge. The evolution of women/moms into the inventing business began when women who stayed home started to look for something more meaningful, a business that was their own to manage, and potentially make a lot of money.
There are a ton of women entrepreneurial groups around, and the topic of inventing a new product is a HUGE request. This comes as NO surprise to Jim.
RB: Once someone has a great idea, lightbulb moment, or perhaps a rough prototype, what is the next best step?
JD: The internet is a great gateway to information that is available to inventors NOW. Before the internet, inventors had to go to the library, but now the internet allows access to information for free and easily. For example, my site provides Free Steps to Inventing, or other sites like Entrepreneur.com and StartUpNation.com help inventors get on the right path. Additional great options are to attend local trade shows or events that feature speakers on the topic of getting a product out there; join inventing groups on Linked In; reach out to other successful inventors at trade shows like Inpex; GET to a great product sourcer.
RB: Got the idea to roll with…..Who should I share with for opinions/advice?
JD: It is important to remember that you cannot have anyone help you unless you share information. Non-Disclosure Agreements (NDA’s) are a great practice to follow, but only as good as the paper they are written on (otherwise you will need to challenge incurring legal fees). Local Inventor Groups and the United Inventors Association (disclaimer: Jim is a member as a service provider) are both great places to connect with reputable people in the industry. Social Media is such an important piece of how people communicate. Post a link on Facebook or Twitter and see if the same person is referred to you by several people.
RB: In order to be safe and pragmatic, What are the TOP 3 pitfalls of inventing to AVOID?
JD: 1) NOT following steps. You cannot just go all out because you love your idea or family and friends told you it was great, AND spend money. You will waste money and time if you do not follow steps and be left crying. 2) NOT understanding the cost of inventing before starting the process. When we shop for ourselves as consumers (TV, phones, appliances), we research for hours. You need to spend time researching what it will cost to invent, get quotes before making decisions, and save because you do not want to get stuck half way through the process because you are out of money. 3) NOT knowing your goals. Do you want to build a product and business yourself? Do you want to license and get a small piece of every product sold? Are you building a legacy? Once you know where you want to go, it helps you decide how to get there.
RB: Million Dollar Question — TO start a business or license a product?
JD: If you license, your money outlay is minimal. All you need is a sell-sheet and to spend a little on a prototype. However, you need to spend money on patents because that is what you are really licensing. Filing for patents is big money, but the patent is your trump card when licensing. Licensing allows you not to run a business because the licenser does all the work and you get royalties.
Building a business is growing something of your own and you need money. Don’t have any money? Don’t max out credit cards or rely on home equity because what if you do not succeed, think about what will happen. Look to your sphere of influence or family and friends. You must be able to stand up and ask for money or you cannot sell your product. Angel investors are hard to capture for products, but there are a few grants from companies like P&G or Huggies. CROWDSOURCING is hot. There are many sites to crowd fund, but always look to friends and family for crowd funding, too. Prepare and save for 6 months to a year before moving forward.
RB: DO TELL — what are the HOT categories for 2012 for inventing new products?
JD: Pet Products are one of the few areas of growth over the last few years with high demand, retailers asking for it, and sourcers wanting to get their hands on them.
Gadgets, as in tablets, electronics, and phones are always in high demand
Anything that caters to Baby Boomers for example, assistance devices, vision improvement, and comfort devices.
Baby Products that make mom’s life easier.
Women’s Accessories full of bling.
WELL, there you have it…..Thanks to Jim for taking the time to answer our burning questions.
Looking forward to great success for all of you (and me).