What are the things that successful inventors do that make the crucial difference compared to other inventors?
Why do some inventors labor for years, believing in their products, but are unable to convince the gatekeepers that are key to success? Why do other inventors seem to find the ‘inside track' and achieve notable success.
It is all about the 3 P's.
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The 3 P's of Successful Inventors: Patience; Persistence; and Path
Have you ever felt impatient?
Have you ever noticed those on the other side of the table have, not only a different agenda, but most certainly a different time line? It can be incredibly frustrating: waiting and waiting and… waiting. The temptation is to push for a decision sooner rather than later, or to follow up perhaps a bit too frequently. But, a ‘quicker' decision is almost guaranteed to be a ‘no' decision – that might have become a ‘yes' decision, had you been a bit more patient.
I have learned over the years that, after a pitch to a potential licensee, it is best to ask them “when would be a good time for me to follow up with you?”
The answer will typically be 2 weeks, but often, that ‘2 weeks' stretches to 4 weeks or longer. I have learned to busy myself with other things while I am awaiting the passage of time. You will be able to recognize, after a while, if the project is truly ‘dead in the water.' So, patience is definitely a virtue for inventors.
Persistence is also a key differentiator between successful inventors and those who don't achieve success.
Isn't it difficult to be persistent when you get a barrage of no's? You begin to doubt your own convictions, your belief that your product is really a great one – when you get continual ho-hum responses.
What kept me going to success was my customers – they continually validated that my thin wallet invention- now known as the Wonder Wallet – was a great product. This allowed me to endure a fusillade of no's from the gatekeepers. I pursued just about everyone in the DRTV business for 5 years before I achieved success.
As long as you have evidence from someone besides yourself that your product is good, you must have faith and persistence – lots of persistence.
How does a hiker negotiate to her destination while traversing thick forests or rocky terrain lined with ravines? She looks for the easiest or best path forward.
Similarly, you will find that your inventive journey is lined with many setbacks that will cause you to reassess your chosen path, pivot, and then choose a different path. I believe that every invention has its own unique path to market. The secret to success is to find the best path forward – which often isn't the first (or second) path you select.
For example, with my thin wallet invention, I was absolutely convinced that a large wallet manufacturer would license my invention. After 3 years on that path, the former CEO of Tandy Brands Accessories gave me a sage piece of advice: “You have a ‘sell on TV' product. This product has to be demonstrated to be understood, you should take it to QVC, not to retail stores.”
That was absolutely not what I wanted to hear at the time.
I just wanted to license my invention and move on to other things. But after a good deal of reflection, I realized he was right. I pivoted and found a much better path forward for my wallet invention: fist was QVC, where I sold successfully for 2 years, then next, I was able to finally license into DRTV to Allstar Products – where it was one of the biggest TV hits of 2015 – 2016.
It is not easy, but if you wish to succeed as an inventor, you must listen to critiques, suggestions, and be willing to reassess your plans, make adjustments, and often, to find another path forward.
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