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Ideas are Cheap: Turn Your Product into a Money Maker

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Ever had an idea that would make life easier for you and thousands of others? Maybe you didn’t act on your last great idea because you became overwhelmed by the thought of all the legwork. Where do you even start? There’s also the widespread belief that it takes a boatload of cash to get a product off the ground.


The truth is, yes, there is some work involved, but it’s not insurmountable. Here’s a quick list of how to get your idea off the ground so it can make you some money!


Do Your Research


You can’t reinvent the wheel… or anything that is patented. How do you know if there is already a patent pending? Aspiring inventors don’t have to retain the services of a patent attorney to find out if there is an existing patent on a similar idea or product just yet, reports entrepreneur.com. You can peruse existing products and patents for no charge at www.uspto.gov.


Once you’ve determined that yours is truly a one-of-a-kind product, find out if anyone is willing to buy it. If you choose to do a survey, don’t be too specific on your product’s design, just talk to people to see if your potato peeler/meat thermometer is something that would make life easier for them.


Write it Down


The “poor man’s” copyright: keep an inventor’s journal in the form of a logbook to record progress of your inventing. The U.S. patent system rewards the first person to invent a new product if he can prove it, according to the National Congress of Inventor Organizations. If someone else files a same idea patent, you can use these records as evidence you thought of it first.


Write down your ideas with as much detail as you can, include drawings and have a witness sign and date each one. This is the inexpensive, reliable way to protect your ideas. You can buy a notebook specially designed to serve as an inventor’s journal, but you can use one from any office supply store just as long as it’s bound, the pages are numbered and they can’t be removed or reinserted. The reasoning behind a bound or stitched logbook is that it’s impossible to tear out the pages, disallowing a person to cheat or lie about the timeline of their ideas.


While this doesn’t guarantee you will get a patent if in a dispute, it’s an efficient way to document your progress.


Build a Prototype


Create a detailed drawing or blueprint. If your product is very technical or complicated, talk to a manufacturer, carpenter or ironworker about making the prototype for you. Reach out to your contacts for help.


This is where some of the investing can start, but you could save money by partnering with a design firm that has experience in developing products similar to yours. Talk to several firms before making a deal and see which is open to getting the prototype built in exchange for a percentage of sales. While you should always expect to invest some amount of money, it might surprise you to learn there are ways to get your product launched without spending too much. A prime example is doing your own marketing by using a company like Printing for Less to get business cards, brochures and other marketing materials. That’s just one affordable step to take that can turn your great idea into a marketable product.


Martha Stewart offers another idea for determining whether you have the next ShamWow on your hands: put a prototype up for sale on eBay or Etsy. The response you get will tell you whether there’s enough interest to make the venture worth your while.


To Patent or Not?


Before you reach the point of mass production, patents are where your product idea can start getting expensive. Entrepreneur.com points out that getting a patent isn’t always a foregone conclusion. Some products aren’t even patentable, so starting the process is wasted money. Patents protect your product only to the extent that you’re willing to enforce them.


Patents do eventually run out, so your product isn’t protected against competition indefinitely. If you decide to go the patent route, talk to attorneys at small patent firms to keep costs down. Find out if they are registered with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and make sure they have a background that is compatible with your invention. Have them provide an estimate of the total cost in writing before agreeing to anything.


Remember to always pursue your goals even if it gets tough. Because where would the world be today if the inventor of the Cake Pops didn’t see the importance of providing bite-sized cake on a stick?



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