Most of us have read articles about famous inventors including da Vinci, Edison, and more recently Kamen (Segway) and thought, “I can do that!”

But, can you really? Commercializing inventions is challenging and few inventors achieve notable success. So is inventing and commercializing products really for you?

Below are 6 key questions to ask yourself to measure your invention potential:

  1. Fixer's Elixir – Do you always want to fix or build things?
  2. Curiosity – Are you curious about many topics?
  3. Imaginative – Do you have a vivid imagination?
  4. Idea Maven – Are you always getting ideas?
  5. Self-directed – Do you succeed in chaotic environments?
  6. Persistent – Do you just refuse to give up?

Fixer's Elixir – A college roommate of mine one day threw away his blow dryer because it has stopped working. When I asked if he had tried to fix it, he said quizzically, “why would I do that?”

Like my college roommate, most people don't possess the fixer's elixir: they have little or no inclination to fix things. Every inventor I have met, on the other hand, cannot resist the temptation to fix things. Successful inventors are natural fixers. Does this describe you?

Curiosity – Most people are curious about some things, typically about specific issues that relate to their career or a hobby, but have little curiosity about other things. Inventors are curious about everything and ask themselves lots of “why” questions. Why do toasters work as they do? Why can't wallets be thin and hold a lot of cards?

Curiosity causes inventors to invent products in areas where they have no formal expertise. Dean Kamen invented a dialysis system, a water purification system, and the Segway among many items. Aren't you curious? I hope so if you want to be an inventor.

Imaginative – A common CEO vow is to have 50% of revenues from new, innovative products. Apple, in particular, rolls out new innovative products almost every year. Sadly, however, many cast aside imaginative, innovative solutions to problems in favor mantra “this is the way we have always done things.”

Inventors, like children, are naturally imaginative and refuse to treat ideas as “silly” or “impractical.” From vivid imaginations spring many ideas; some, like the iPod can be transformative. Inventors are adults who managed to grow up without disavowing the imaginative inner child within. Imagination  =>  Ideas   Imagine that!

Idea Maven – Inventors are always conceiving new ideas. They are creative, out-of-the- box thinkers. Ideas come when they sleep, when driving to work or even in the shower. Ideas form the boundless wellspring from which all new products emerge. From a plethora of raw ideas emerge a few workable products. Imagination  =>  Ideas =>  Products  Get the idea?

Self-directed – There are two kinds of people: those who function best in structured environments with clear direction, and those who flourish in chaotic environments where they must be self-directed to create their own structure. Successful inventors are self-directed and self motivated. There is no step-by-step template, successful commercialization takes a different course for each new product. Inventors embrace chaos, nurture their ideas and create new products where before nothing existed. Carpe diem!

Persistent – Like Edison with the light bulb, inventors must be persistent to be successful. Those who are discouraged with a few (or many) rejections of their product lack the tenacity and resilience to succeed. Successful inventors take no's as a clarion call to try new approaches, new paths to move their products forward. The seeds of success often spring from setbacks. Persistence and resilience are crucial to succeed as an inventor. As Churchill famously said, “never, never give up.”

Do you have the fixer's elixir, are you curious, imaginative, self-directed and persistent?

Maybe the next great product will be yours!

My first product: