Ever since that time you woke up in the middle of the night with your life-changing idea, you haven’t been able to get it out of your mind. You know you can build a better mousetrap, so to speak, and you’re convinced you can even sell it and make a profit. If this describes you, it’s time to make a plan to turn those dreams into reality. Here are the steps you’ll need to take to go from zero to hero.
Write it Down
Before you do anything else, set your idea down in writing. Record everything – yes, everything – about its design, possible uses, how it could be marketed, possible variations and spinoffs, etc. This is crucial for establishing ownership rights to prove that you really were the first person to have this idea. The best way to do this is to keep an inventor’s journal – a bound notebook with numbered pages that can’t be added or removed. This type of journal will be useful to verify that your invention is really yours. You should also have at least one witness sign and date it.
Make Sure You Actually Invented It
You may think you’re the first person to think of your invention idea, but you’ll need to be sure. If someone has already patented it, they’ll also have a lock on any money made from sales (including any you make)! Take a look through the US Patent and Trademark Office database to make sure your idea is a true original. Go a step further and search the internet and other resources for any sketches, drawings, concept descriptions, etc. that sound like what you’re making. If any of those exist, you likely won’t be able to patent your idea.
Find Your Market
Building a better mousetrap is great only if there are consumers out there who are dissatisfied with the mousetrap they already have. Your job is to find those consumers. Ask people what they want and really listen to their responses, whether gathered in person, on the phone, or via an online survey. Be flexible and willing to adapt your design to fit the needs of your market – better to find out now than after you’ve produced your first batch!
Make Sure It Works
It’s time to see if your idea will actually work in the real world. Build a working model of your product, and make tweaks based on feedback from your target market. Before you file a patent, you’ll want to make sure you’re completely happy with what you’ve built, as you won’t own any changes made after the patent is filed. Take as long as you need and use various methods (sketches, mockups, etc.) till you’ve got a fully working model you’re happy with and ready to share publicly – this is a very important step.
Patent Your Idea
Congratulations – you’re ready to patent your idea! First, decide whether you’ll be filing for a utility patent (if you’ve developed a new machine or process) or a design patent (if you’ve created a new design). Make sure you seek advice at this step, and perhaps even consider hiring a patent law attorney to help with the process. At the very least, you’ll want to make sure you have someone you can call should anyone infringe on your patent rights down the road. This will help you stay protected and head off expensive lawsuits.
Build a Business Plan
Most patents unfortunately do not make money for their inventors. To be the exception to the rule, you’ll need to develop a sound business plan. A business plan is a roadmap showing you and your investors how you’ll reach your profit goals. Describe clearly what you’re building and who you will market it to, what you intend to deliver to customers and investors, and how you will achieve this. With a well-developed business plan at your side, you’ll be much better equipped to turn your invention into cold hard cash.
Take the First Step
If this all sounds like a lot of work, that’s because it is. Startups are hard, and patenting and marketing a new invention doesn’t happen overnight. Once your big idea takes off, however, you’ll hopefully be thrilled with its success and all of this will be worth it. We’ll be there from your very first sale, helping you process credit card transactions quickly and easily. Give us a call at 1-855-360-0360 or reach out through our website. We can’t wait to meet you!
PS – Here’s how to find that all-important first paying customer!
PPS – Now it’s time to name this new company of yours – here’s how.