The first step is obvious: try to keep your costs as low as possible. The many tasks you must conquer will be less expensive if you form the right team. Find people who have a different skill set. For example, early in my career, I teamed up with a man named Russell Hicks. I came up with ideas and he did all of the drawings for our sale sheets. It was just the two of us, but we were very effective. If you’re uncomfortable with another person having a claim to your inventions, consider trading for work. Work on a project for someone else and then use her or his skills for your own project. That individual won’t have any ownership in your idea, but they will have contributed to your project – at no cost.
Secondly, design for markets that are still hot in this economy. There are still a number of trends that are doing well. For example, kitchen accessories under fifteen dollars (essentially, items that aren’t battery operated or have plug-ins) – more people are staying home to cook. Secondly, the idea of “stay-cations” is popular. Because people aren’t traveling, they are looking for DIY projects around the house for entertainment. The pet industry is popular, as is “going green”.
Although I hate to say it, it’s sometimes who you know, not what you know. So begin networking. Find people who could mentor you from a specific industry. If you attend a tradeshow, look for potential mentors who have retired – they will know a lot about the industry and will probably have a number of contacts. See if they’re willing to take you on!
And lastly, if a company rejects your idea, ask them if there’s something else you could work on. This may set you up with some freelance work. But even if it doesn’t pay, you can prove to the company what an asset you are. Whether it leads to a job or not, you’ll be on the inside track. And that’s very important.
Don’t quit your day job! Even when inventing may be going great for you – you’ve still got to pay the bills.
Stephen Key is a successful award-winning inventor who has licensed
over 20 products in the past 25 years. Along with business partner
Andrew Krauss, Stephen runs inventRight, a company dedicated to educating inventors about selling their ideas and the skills needed to succeed. You can ask questions and get advice on the inventRight forum, check out the resource center, and listen to the weekly radio show on inventing.