Creating an Invention Plan
Inventing is not a straight-forward world. Some inventions are easier to introduce than others, and some inventions are nearly impossible for an under financed inventor. Preparing an invention plan before you get started with a new idea will help you choose ideas that are easiest to succeed with, and will also help keep on course during the invention process.
Define Your Idea
Your idea needs to have every feature defined and also it needs to have every component identified. A drawing is helpful also. This step is helpful because it allows you to see the complexity of the idea, and understand what help you might need to develop the idea. Defining your idea fully is also what people expect from you if you start talking to patent attorneys or patent agents, prototype developers, possible investors or industry contacts.
A Little Research
Three steps in initial research every inventor should do are first, do a Google search to see if anyone is selling a product like yours. Second do a Google patent search. Google patents is a great site. The easiest way to get their is just to do a Google search for Google patents. This is not as good as a patent search from a professional, but often it will pop out patents that might compete with yours. Third go to product directories in trade magazines, or directories from past industry trade shows. You can find these by doing a Google search for product directories for your industry, which is you product category. For instance you can do a search for product directories bicycle industries.
This research will help you see if anyone has done a product like yours before. Just because you haven’t seen a product on the market doesn’t mean that someone else hasn’t already introduced, created or patented your idea previously
A Plan for a Model or Prototype
Inventors can get a patent without a prototype or model, but they have a very hard time achieving commercial success without having one. People need to see a product to realize that it will work, and how much better it will work than competitive products. Can you make a model or prototype yourself, or can you afford to have one made for you. Prototypes produced by outside vendors are much more expensive than most inventors think. So if you can’t make it yourself get a quote from someone who can make a prototype.
Inventors often come up with multiple ideas, so if you can’t see how to make a prototype, or don’t have resources to build one, consider looking for an alternate idea. Otherwise your path to success could hit a dead end at this point.
Showing Market Acceptance
Inventors benefit when they can show market acceptance before they spend too much money. This can take many forms. Selling products at local fairs or trade shows is one method. Starting a web page and generating a response is another. A popular tactic is to offer a product to a Facebook group that includes target customers. You might also have mentoring support from a sales or marketing executive, or distributor in your industry. I have taken provisional orders for industrial products, where the customer gives an order but has a clause that the product must pass inspection and performance tests before delivery. This is safety precaution that you will want before spending money, but more importantly, you can frequently get financial support from investors or even potential manufactures when you can show you have a strong chance of success. This proof also increases your chances of licensing your product anywhere from five to 10 times, and possibly even more.
I listed a few possible ways to show market acceptance, but there are many more ways that a creative person could come up. thinking outside the box is an approach inventors need to take, not only to create their ideas, but to introduce their product.
A First Stage Market
Inventors succeed most often when they can start sales on a small scale, before moving to bigger sales. This gives inventors a chance to work out the production bugs and also to develop a sales history that helps inventors. Small retailers, consumer shows, Internet sites and Facebook pages that cater to your target customers, Home Shopping Networks and catalogs are all good first target markets for inventors. Read this post for more information. http://onestopinventionshop.net/blog/2016/03/inventor-distribution-networks/.
If you don’t have a first stage market your risk in introducing the invention goes way up. Try to fin an industry insider to help you. Read more about this approach at http://onestopinventionshop.net/blog/2017/12/industry-insiders-can-give-product-quick-start/
Manufacturer for Small Quantities
If you are going to sell small quantities, you will need a manufacturer. Don’t assume that an overseas manufacturer is the best choice. Often they require large quantity purchases and big down payments which you may not be able to afford. Check out US manufactures too. This post covers information about finding a contract manufacturer http://onestopinventionshop.net/blog/2017/02/finding-contract-manufacturer/
Will You Be Profitable
You won’t know this till you go through these steps. But this is the point that really counts. You had early sales in your plan, and at this time you should have quotes. To profit long term you need to sell your product for four to five times your manufacturing costs. This is a Go/No Go point in your decision matrix. Don’t go on till you have the four to five times costs ratio.
the next step is to write a Marketing Plan and a Business Plan and raise money to launch you invention. You don’t need to worry about those steps at this time. You just need to get through the preliminary steps first so that you know you have an invention that will sell. If you have positive results after planning doing for your invention, then you should move ahead with at least a provisional patent.