Money. It’s a pressing issue for inventors – rarely will an individual be so financially secure that they don’t have to ask themselves, “Am I going to have to invest large amounts of money to sell my idea? How much money I am going to need exactly…?”
The short answer is, “NO. Licensing your idea is not expensive.” Licensing, one of two routes inventors may pursue to sell their products, is very low-cost. A knowledge and understanding of the process are much more crucial. The elements of licensing, including filing a provisional patent, creating a sell-sheet, and contacting companies, should total around five hundred dollars. A particularly frugal individual could probably do so in just several hundred. I’ve successfully licensed over twenty products and the cost and format vary little.
However, four years ago, I decided to bring my own (very simple!) idea to market in a very different way. I started a company. And this path, I’ve discovered, is anything but low-cost. Even the smallest of ideas, such as a guitar pick that costs merely pennies to make, will demand several hundred thousand dollars of capital and support. The process is both very rewarding, and very risky. It’s not for everyone. The money and time you are required to invest will either pay off in a big way or completely fail. If you can successfully wear many different hats, and have the financial means to do so, I would consider even then first carefully looking into this second route.
The biggest mistake I’ve seen inventors make is in failing to study the marketplace. They are so excited to have conceived of an idea, they immediately hire an attorney and begin to try to file a patent. Patents are extremely expensive, and needless to say, so are lawyers. The next mistake they make is in trying to create a prototype; most don’t have the skills to do, and again, hire someone. The operative word here is “hire”. It’s only after you really KNOW that your product is a good one (and there are many ways to test this!) that you should even consider hiring other people to your team.