So you’ve got an idea you think might be the greatest invention since the hula hoop. What do you do next?
Spend hundreds of hours developing your gizmo to make sure it works perfectly?
Not exactly, says Nigel Parker, a successful inventor, entrepreneur and founder and CEO of RashEndZ Inc., a company that developed a skin-aeration liner for incontinence garments that prevents and treats severe rashes.
He says before you waste time trying to perfect your invention, first spend time and money to find out if there is a market for it. Many people don’t thoroughly investigate the challenges of bringing the product to market before devoting endless hours to an invention that has no market appeal.
“An invention without a market is worth the price of rocks,” Parker says. “Why spend time and money developing something and getting all the kinks out of it if nobody wants to buy it?”
Parker says the first thing any inventor must do, before even filing a patent, is to assess the marketplace extensively. Once target market segments are clearly defined, the competitive analysis, the production analysis, and the sales approach can be defined in order to determine how best to patent the invention.
Parker offers these additional tips for inventors who are would-be entrepreneurs:
• Find ideas where you work. Many inventors find their inventions where they work by making an existing task or product easier or less expensive.
• Create something that solves a problem. Innovation is about problem-solving. Nice ideas that solve few people’s problems result in failed businesses. So focus on the problem being solved, protect your novel ideas with Intellectual property protection, research every aspect of the business’s landscape and build the business from the strategic level. Only when that’s done should you move on to developing tactical plans.
• Get to know the patent office. The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) will assist you when you need answers regarding patents, trademarks, copyrights, on anything you create that meets the office’s Intellectual Property guidelines.
• Be prepared to fail. Good inventions don’t usually happen the first time you try. Be prepared to fail – a lot. But every failure brings you closer to success.
• Be receptive to ideas outside your field of expertise. Parker, an engineer with more than 25 years experience in aerospace and other high-tech industries, began working on his invention because of a request from a relative who is a nurse. His medical device had nothing to do with his background.
Parker says inventors need to be steadfast in their approach, relentless in the pursuit of their dreams and flexible enough to change course should the market research show their product does not have enough market value.