Rule #2 from 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Begin with the end in mind.

This advice is particularly relevant for inventors.  Being laser focused upon what you want to achieve will guide you to success more quickly. I wish I had taken this advice when I became an inventor in 2002.

Like many inventors, I came up with an idea for a new product based upon a problem I wanted to solve. Savvy Caddy wallets solve the bulky, uncomfortable wallet problem because they are thin and flexible.

But, I ran my inventive business more like a hobby than a business.

I lacked a single-minded focus. I wanted to license the product and, after quite a few rejections, I changed course and began manufacturing them to test market the concept. I was willing to do just about anything to make my product successful, and I succeeded, but my scattered marketing efforts took years to bear fruit.

How do you begin with the end in mind? To have an end or a clear focus, you must determine what that focus is in the beginning or early stages of your business.

How do you find that focus and then stay with it to success?

  1. Determine what you are good at and enjoy doing – your core competency
  2. Decide upon a path to market that is a fit for you
  3. Visualize what you want to achieve to be successful – this is the end or goal
  4. Be completely focused and persistent in following your path to success

I learned the above over more than a decade of hard work, so I'll use 20/20 hindsight to illustrate how the above 4 steps played out for me. Your situation will be different, of course.

1. Even before I became an inventor, I realized I was very good at problem solving and creativity – that was and is today my core competency.

2. What path to market makes sense for someone who is creative and great at problem solving? There are two primary paths to market: licensing the product or building a business around the product. When I encountered continual discouragements and roadblocks to licensing, I switched gears to building a business around my product. This was a big mistake; I was going against my core competency. Creative, problem solvers are not great at managing the mind-numbing nitty gritty details of sourcing, manufacturing, marketing and running a business.

3. I did indeed visualize what I wanted to achieve: a solid licensing deal wherein I could collect royalties, so I could turn my time and energies to my core competency – conceiving and creating new product ideas – product development. But running a business worked completely at cross-purposes to that vision. I finally achieved my vision in spite of myself!

4. Had I been completely focused and persistent in following the path, I would have developed a much more comprehensive list of potential licensees. From that, I would have been relentlessly persistent in pursuing all valid potential licensees.

Determine what you are good at and enjoy doing, your core competency. Decide upon a path to market that is aligned with what you are good at. Visualize where you want to be, the end you wish to achieve. Finally, be focused and relentlessly persistent. Learn from your mistakes and setbacks, refine your plans and work to your success!

Stay tuned!