“I'm too broke to be an inventor!”
That is exactly what I said to myself in 2002 when, one day in the shower, I came up with an idea for a thin, flexible wallet to forever solve the bulky useless wallet problem.
I knew the idea made sense, I knew it would work and lots of people would want such a wallet.
What I didn't know was how in the world I might afford $5,000 to get a patent, plus more for developing prototypes, and marketing. Oh, also, telecom employment was in a free fall with about 30,000 being laid off in my city – I knew I would be joining them within a couple of months. I had no idea how long it would take me to get another job. Yet I was planning to spend a lot of money to get a patent.
I tell you my situation because chances are you have faced similar challenges in your life and in your career.
So, I did something all my friends told me was crazy. I rolled the dice. I met with a patent attorney and committed to prosecute my invention to hopefully get a patent within three years. I put it on a credit card. Three months later, I was laid off and it would take me a year to get a truly “replacement” job for the one I lost. Was I crazy?
You Can Afford to be an Inventor
It turns out that things weren't as bad as I thought when I nervously got my credit card out to pay my patent attorney.
I owed him much less than $5,000 to file my patent. Why? Because the patent would take about three years to issue and all I had to pay to start, was the filing fee, not the entire cost. So, initially, it cost me just a bit over $1,000 to get the process underway. It would be almost 2 years before I received my first Office Action from the US Patent Office and would owe my attorney more money – 2 years is a long time. The process was quite a bit less expensive than I had thought it would be – and my costs were spread out over 3 years.
What if I gave into my fear, held onto my wallet and chose not to file the patent?
In my case, that would have been a $200,000+ mistake! Thirteen years later, my invention, the Wonder Wallet sold like crazy on TV and retail stores – over 1,000,000 units. None of that would have happened if I gave into my darkest fears.
Enough about me, back to you and specifics on why you can afford to be an inventor.
There are Several Paths Forward for Your Invention
So, let's cut to the chase. What if you really have almost no discretionary funds? How can I possibly claim you can still afford to be an inventor? Let me briefly quote Henry Ford:
“If you think you can, or you think you can't, … either way, you are probably right!”
There are many different paths forward with any invention: you can build a business around it – DIY; you can license it; you can use OPM – other people's money – with Kickstarter or Indiegogo to name a couple options.
I suggest if your funds are limited – as is the case with many inventors – that you should consider licensing your product. It might cost you a few plane rides and marketing collateral to present your product to prospective licensees. But you won't be spending thousands of dollars to source your product and sell it into the marketplace. Full disclosure: there is no guarantee that a company will license your product, but that is the nature of business. Nothing is guaranteed. But, you'll never know unless you try.
A couple I know, just launched a Kickstarter campaign and exceeded their target of $10,000 – they raised over $25,000 in OPM to launch their product into the marketplace. Instead of asking themselves, “how can we afford $10,000,” they instead asked a much better question, “how can we find $10,000 to get our product off the ground?”
The Magic of Your RAS
In the end, it all comes down to a simple yes/no decision you must make:
Am I going to do this … or not?
If you choose not to do it, your subconscious mind will show you many things to validate you made the right decision: most inventions fail; many inventors go broke; the market is brutal; timing is just wrong, etc. …. etc. You will feel validated you made the right decision.
If you choose that, yes, you are going to do this, and you strongly visualize succeeding … something amazing happens.
Your RAS (reticular activating system) kicks into overdrive. The human brain is a naturally teleological, or goal setting, mechanism. You set a big scary goal. Suddenly, you will begin to see and hear stories on the radio, television, the internet about your goal because the RAS shows you everything that is consistent with your goal. Nothing changed but you and your focus: those things were always there all around you, but you never noticed, because your focus was elsewhere – so you didn't see any of it. This is the magic of the RAS. There is much more information on this in Maxwell Maltz' excellent book Psycho Cybernetics.
Here is the proof. I want you to picture a brand new deep blue Chevrolet Corvette.
Hear the roar of its engine and visualize it driving past you. Guess what? In the next few weeks, you will suddenly see deep blue Corvettes everywhere! Your RAS will seize upon that as a goal condition: show me as many blue Chevrolet Corvettes as possible. Ask and you shall receive. They were always there, but now you are aware of them.
Next week's blog topic is “You Can't Trust Chinese Manufacturers.”