Less than 5% of all patent holders profit from their inventions. Most inventors fail – where they could have been successful – were it not for some key blunders or missteps. In the next several blogs, I am going to address some key inventor blunders and how to avoid them.

One prime reason inventors fail: too many ideas, too little focus.

In working as a consultant with a variety of new inventors, I noticed a common trend: most would flit from one idea to the next – never focusing on any one idea long enough to get any meaningful forward traction.

Why was this?

Inventors are naturally creative thinkers – with the strengths and weaknesses common to all creative people. Creative thinkers tackle challenges by asking “what if” questions that are unconstrained by conventional wisdom. What if a bicycle had a front wheel that was larger than the rear wheel? What if a baseball bat was curved rather than straight?

From what may seem ridiculous questions, new innovative ideas and products sometimes emerge. That is a great strength of creative thinkers and it comes naturally to most inventors.

On the other hand, creative thinkers tend to dislike structure and focus – it feels too constraining to them. Yet people who are structured and focused also tend to be goal oriented and persistent. Successfully businesspeople are focused and very persistent – they simply don’t give up in the face of often daunting discouragements and setbacks – until at last they succeed.

Lack of focus and persistence is a great weakness of most inventors.

So, a typical inventor works on an idea or invention until he encounters a few roadblocks and problems, then he becomes frustrated. Perhaps another idea is better, he thinks and he quickly jumps to a different idea. No one likes roadblocks, discouragements, and problems.

How can an inventor burnish her great strength, creative thinking, and, at the same time learn the focus and persistence that are so necessary to success?

Cull ideas and winnow them down to a select few, then focus efforts on the one that seems to have the best chance for success in the marketplace. Remember that Edison didn’t give up after trying 10 different filaments or even 100 filaments, he persisted doggedly until he finally found one filament that when electrified would product light. Have faith in yourself and be persistent until problems are worked through and success becomes within reach.

Stay tuned!