Inventing offers a path to wealth for anyone willing to persistently pursue a good idea and get it into the marketplace. But you will never move forward with your ideas if you cannot afford to invent.

You may have heard that patents can cost $10,000 – $20,000 or more. What about marketing and manufacturing? Take a deep breath. Here is the good news: patents for simple consumer products could be $5,000 or even less. If you are as creative with your budget as your are with your invention – you can definitely afford to be an inventor.

This post is all about affordable inventing – inventing on a budget.

Inventing on a Budget – 3 Keys to Success

Below are three keys to inventing on a limited budget:

  1. Diligence before dollars – don't spend money until you have to
  2. Seek out and use low cost resources
  3. Focus on developing low-cost consumer products

Recently, an inventor of a cleaning specialty product told me, “there is nothing out there like my product.” I did 30 minutes of research – some due diligence – and uncovered 3 similar products that were selling in the marketplace.

Diligence before dollars can save you money in a variety of ways. The most obvious is that if your research shows a lot of similar products exist, both as patents and in retail, you may choose to not invest capital into a me-too product. Move onto your next invention idea and save thousands by not pursuing an idea that could not succeed.

At the very least, due diligence will help you to differentiate your product from others in marketplace and to focus your patent accordingly. For much more about due diligence, click on 5 Steps to Launch Your Invention.

Early in the inventing process, it is particularly valuable to seek out and use low-cost resources.

The Small Business Development Center, SBDC, a division of the Small Business Administration (SBA) provides free and low cost business counseling and training on many topics, including business incorporation, business planning, and the SBA loan process. SBDC offices are located in every major urban center in the U.S. Click on the red link at the top of this blog post to get more information on SBDC offices, etc. The SBDC is a great low cost resource for inventors and entrepreneurs.

When creating your first prototypes, you can save a lot of money by creating your own initial prototypes, then seek out a local university's industrial engineering department for further assistance. Students, with valuable skills, will often work on your prototype for a very reasonable cost. I wrote a previous blog all about prototyping – click here to read that blog.

Lastly, focus on developing or creating low-cost consumer product inventions that solve annoying problems. Look at as seen on TV products. They are simple, generally retail for less than $25 and solve small, but annoying problems. The Purse Pouch secures purses in a knit pouch so the contents won't spill onto the floor of a car. The Car Cane helps older or disabled people to gain leverage to step up into SUVs and pick ups. Both products have sold very well on TV and in retail stores.

More importantly, the cost of prototypes and manufacturing is manageable should you decide to DIY – to build a business around your invention. This gives you two possible paths to market: DIY or license your invention to a manufacturer. More expensive products soon become prohibitively expensive to manufacture.

Stay tuned.