In the previous post – I – Initial Prototypes – What to Expect – I mentioned that inventing is different from other businesses because there is no single or clear formula for success. Put another way, the process does not follow a “straight line” but is replete with starts and stops: overcoming barriers, which often take you in a different direction.

Needless to say, these zigzags are frustrating and a key reason why many would be inventors give up. At such times it is best to simply trust in yourself and your judgment and “just get started” in a direction that seems productive.

For example, the inventing process often bogs down after the inventor has made a few initial prototypes. What to do next, the inventor wonders. Should I:

• Continue to refine and make more prototypes?
• Begin researching patent options?
• Consider whether or not to pursue building the product or licensing it?

My suggestion is all of the above: spend a bit of time in each of these areas.

Here’s why I suggest this approach. Spending a small amount of time in each of these areas will fuel further creative thinking across your venture, which often results in new insights. For example, if you begin researching patents, you may discover there are a number of patents for products somewhat similar to yours. You might then re-examine your current prototype and add features to make it more distinctive from other products. If you had not invested some time in researching patents, you would not have thought to add distinctive features to the prototype and improve marketability of your product.

Welcome to the strange world of inventing! By stepping aside from a very focused set of activities (like prototype development) and spending time on what seems to be unrelated activities, your path forward comes into sharper focus.

This segues into our next post – K – Keep Researching and Developing Your Knowledge.