I have been an inventor for 12 years and have been full-time self-employed as an inventor for the last 5 years. I have found there are three kinds of people when it comes to invention.
When I relate the story of my first invention to someone, they often smile knowingly and say to me:
Oh, I could be an inventor, I have ideas all the time!
The amazing thing to me is they are completely serious. The same person would never suggest he could be an NFL football player because he plays football with his buddies.
For inventors coming up with ideas is the easiest part of the process and also the least important. Culling ideas, developing the good ones, creating prototypes, testing, marketing and partnering with trustworthy partners – that is the difficult part.
The problem with thinkers as described above is that they never do anything.
Tinkerers love to fix things or at least to tinker with them, hoping to fix them.
While all inventors are tinkerers, most tinkerers are not inventors. Many tinkerers are quite satisfied with simply fixing things or, in some cases, designing an improved product. Tinkerers very rarely wish to develop a finished product, package it, and market it – that is way too much work and hassle. Tinkerers don't want to be in business with all the attendant headaches that come with it. For the tinkerer, tinkering and fixing is its own reward – and that is not a bad thing.
Inventors turn the hobby of tinkerers into a career. Thinking of ideas, many ideas, and tinkering with them is just the beginning. From there, an inventor considers how the idea must be refined or adapted to be a true invention: a practical product that can work in the marketplace. He or she will need to be very creative and resilient to get the product into the marketplace – there will be a barrage of no, not interested and only a very few we like the product, let's work together.
But the latter is where the fun finally begins for a new product.