Think Like an Inventor
Shark Tank, it’s that popular TV show where entrepreneurs and inventors try to get the celebrity
panel to invest. All the attention on this show is inspiring individuals to take their ideas to the next level. That’s why every day across the country people are “playing out” that show off the big screen. In fact, the US and China saw double digit growth in the number of Patent and Cooperation Treaty applications in 2013- a 56% increase for the US and 29% for China. http://www.wipo.int/export/sites/www/ipstats/en/docs/infographics_patents_2013.pdf
Inventors are an amazing group of individuals. They dream. They design. They make things. They fail. They make new things. I have had a number of occasions to present to groups of inventors. Most recently, I spoke at the Michigan Inventors Expo and as I walked around the Expo before presenting, I saw products that ranged from a new kind of bikini to an assistive mobility device for individuals who have lost limbs. There was a water bowl for dogs with floppy ears and box cutter that helps avoid injury. There is no doubt that inventors see the world in a different light. But no matter what the product, the inventors I met all seemed to have some common traits.
Inventors have the ability to identify a need or problem. The inventor who developed the dog water bowl probably got tired of mopping up water from the floor every time the dog got thirsty. Or maybe he just did not like getting wet every time the dog nuzzled up to him with wet sloppy ears. Sometimes the inventions solve a huge problem, others times they make life easier or more convenient.
Inventors are analytical. They try to find a creative way to solve the problem. Many inventors are engineers or have other formal education. Others just have lots of common sense and drive. Either way, they take the time to develop a product, refine and then test it. This might sound easy but some inventors work for years only to find that the product does not work as it was intended.
Inventors are resourceful. Once a product is designed, inventors have to find a way to produce and market it. Lining up production can be daunting. Some find that the product might be too expensive to produce given what the market is willing to pay. This sends them back to the design phase to try and find alternative materials or production processes. Even when production issues are solved finding distribution outlets willing to take a chance on a new product or a small business can be frustrating. Great products can get stalled and never end up getting traction.
Inventors are relentlessly positive. Inventors that I have met are some of the most upbeat, positive individuals I have ever seen. They really believe that what they have created is good and somehow they will find a way to market their product. For some that might lead to a licensing agreement. If a product does fail, they invent something else. The process of creating something is exciting to them and their enthusiasm is infectious. They take setbacks in stride.
Inventors are pragmatic. It takes time and money, often the inventor’s own savings, to create new products. While large companies have lots of resources, individual inventors invest their own money to get started. At some point, they need cash to continue. There are a number of resources they go to including friends and family or angel investors.
I have to admire all that it takes for an inventor to create something new and fresh. Most of us will never be inventors but maybe we could take a lesson or two from them. Try looking at work in a new and different way. Be resourceful when it comes to getting the job done. Think positively. And if that idea for something new does come to you… don’t sit on it. Do something or someone else might invent it.