Inventions often come out of regular people who find simple solutions to simple problems. Take Band-Aid® Bandages. The bandage was invented by a Johnson & Johnson employee by the name of Earl Dickson. When Earl's accident prone wife cut herself, he set out to develop a bandage that she could apply without help. So he stuck a small piece of gauze in the center of a small piece of surgical tape, and voila -- what we now know today as the Band-Aid® was born!
I recently joined a local inventor's group called the Innovators' Resource Network out of nearby Springfield, Massachusetts. I don't think of myself as an inventor, but some of my clients are pretty creative, so I thought I'd sit in and see what I could pick up on how to bring a product idea to market. Boy, am I glad I did!
Barbara Winter talks about the need for people seeking to discover their calling to identify their natural habitat. That's the place you feel most at home and alive. Barbara's natural habitat is the classroom.
That night I found my natural habitat. It's any place where entrepreneurs converge. There must have been 60 people there and the energy in that room was incredible! For one thing, you have to be a "Yes You Can" kind of person to bring an idea to market and that night, the room was teaming with them. For another, everyone was eager to offer advice and encouragement to help their fellow entrepreneur succeed.
The group was the brainchild of product scouts Dave Cormier and Karyl Lynch. What Dave and Karyl do is help manufacturing companies find innovative products to bring to market. They do this by matching their clients with independent inventors who hope the company will license their product. What I found equally interesting is that not too long ago Karyl and Dave had very different jobs -- and lives. But I'll get to that in a moment.
First, here are some resources on how to bring a product to market that can help launch you on the road to riches . . . and freedom.
1. "How to License Your Million Dollar Idea: Everything You Need to Know to Turn a Simple Idea Into a Million Dollar Payday" Harvey Reese, a successful new product developer, consultant, and licensing agent, outlines his system for creating commercially profitable ideas and his secrets for turning them into lucrative licensing agreements. The book covers:
~ nuts-and-bolts information on the licensing process
~ recent changes in patent law and how the Internet has impacted modern licensing
~ step-by-step process for formulating an idea that manufacturers are willing to pay for, researching its authenticity, obtaining patents, finding prospects, negotiating the deal, and beyond
~ examples of successful, well-known licensing ventures
~ appendix of sample patent forms, licensing agreements, disclosure statements, publications, contact information, and more
For your convenience you can find this book in the Changing Course Bookstore
2. The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office offers useful information for first time visitors including resources for inventors and how to do a patent search.
3. The United Inventors Association Lots of resources including articles, steps for new inventors, how to find an inventors group in your area, a program to assess the feasibility of your invention, how to avoid being taken in by inventor assistance schemes, and much more.
4. Finding A Distributor To Market Your Product One place to find a distributor to market your product is by attending trade shows related to your industry. The companies at the booths are trying to sell to the same market you are and may be interested in adding your invention to their line. To find tradeshows go to http://www.tsnn.com or http://www.TradeGroup.com
5. Inventors' Conferences These conferences and expos are a good place for inventors to show off their products to companies seeking products to license. A few upcoming conferences are:
INPEX attracts a lot of foreign investors and potential licensors
Minnesota Inventors Congress offers lots of educational programs for inventors but according to Entrepreneur magazine, the number of potential licensors is not as strong.
6. Inventor's Digest Magazine This magazine's website lists other tradeshows and workshops, FAQs, success stories and much more. The magazine is great for anyone serious about earning money from their product ideas.
Two Invention Experts Who "Re-Invented" Their Lives As I was saying, Karyl and Dave's personal changing course story is as interesting to me as the products they've helped bring to market. Not too long ago, she was a college administrator and he developed software. Over the course of six years the two essentially re-invented themselves as product scouts.
Since then they've served as judges for two recent national new product hunts: CBS's "Not So Crazy Ideas" and "The Hunt for the Best New Consumer Products," sponsored by the United Inventors Association, Inventors' Digest magazine, and Proctor and Gamble.
Smart self-bossers are always on the look out for ways to turn knowledge into income. And that's exactly what Karyl did by parlaying her and Dave's experience starting the Innovators' Resource Network into a book called "How to Start an Inventors' Group" published by the United Inventors Association.
Karyl and Dave are also what Mark Henrick's calls "Lifestyle Entrepreneurs" . . . meaning they decided what kind of life they wanted first and then chose a business that would allow them to have that life. It's what I call the Life First-Work Second approach to career change. In Karyl and Dave's case, creating the ideal life meant starting a business that would allow them the flexibility to spend winters in the sunny Southwest.
The first step to bringing a product idea to market is to get informed. If your idea doesn't get picked up right away, don't get discouraged. Executives at Parker Brothers turned down the game of Monopoly because they said it had "52 fundamental errors," one of which was that it took too long to play. A copy of the game somehow wound up in the home of the president of Parker Brothers and he stayed up until 1 a.m. to finish playing it. He liked the game so much that he wrote to inventor Charles Darrow the next day and offered to buy it!
Valerie Young may be contacted at http://www.ChangingCourse.com firstname.lastname@example.org
Profiting From into Passions® expert, Valerie Young, abandoned her corporate cubicle to become the Dreamer in Residence at http://ChangingCourse.com offering resources for people who want to work at what they love. Her career change tips have been cited in The Wall Street Journal, USA Today Weekend, More, Kiplinger's, Woman's Day, and elsewhere and on-line at MSN, CareerBuilder, and iVillage.com. An expert on the Impostor Syndrome (http://ImpostorSyndrome.com), Valerie has spoken on How to Feel as Bright and Capable as Everyone Seems to Think You Are to such diverse organizations as Boeing, Intel, Chrysler, IMB, P&G, Harvard University, and American Women in Radio and Television.