Archive for the ‘Success’ Category

How to Invent and Profit Like Thomas Edison

Tuesday, February 8th, 2011

Thomas EdisonWell known American inventor, scientist and businessman, Thomas Edison, never stopped inventing from the time he started through the end of his life. He died with 1,093 patents to his name. More notably though, he commercialized hundreds of patented inventions through patent licensing, patent sales, and by building companies around his patented ideas.

Lesson #1: Invent to Sell

One of our favorite Edison quotes explains his desire to create commercially viable inventions:

“Anything that won’t sell, I don’t want to invent. Its sale is proof of utility, and utility is success.” –Thomas Edison

Thomas Edison used daily life as inspiration for many of his inventions. He would actively think about and observe problems and needs which he believed people would pay to have solved. Many of his patents were improvements on existing products that increased usability and practicality.


“I have never perfected an invention that I did not think about in terms of the service it might give others… I find out what the world needs, then I proceed to invent.”
– Thomas Edison

Lesson #2: Understand the Value of Marketing

Unlike other inventors of his time, Edison understood the value of marketing. After inventing a product, he did not sit back and wait for customers to come to him. Instead, he went out and actively marketed his inventions. Early on, he focused on licensing or selling his patents. Later, he focused on creating companies to bring his products to market.

“Unlike other inventors of his time, Edison understood the value of marketing”

Edison believed in showcasing his inventions to the public and throwing down a challenge to competing products. When promoting his DC power over Nikola Tesla’s AC power, he electrocuted an elephant with Tesla’s AC power to prove it was dangerous and should not be used.

Lesson #3: Work Hard and Be Persistent

Thomas Edison was a self-acclaimed hard worker. He did what he had to do so that he could keep inventing. His ambition, drive and motivation are inspirational:

“I never did anything by accident, nor did any of my inventions come by accident; they came by work.” –Thomas Edison

Edison figured out how to invent while working full time. He worked jobs that would provide him the ability to invent while he was also collecting wages. Edison purchased his first industrial research lab with the money he made from the sale of the quadruplex telegraph to Western Union which he invented after hours.

Lesson #4: Think Outside of the Box

When Edison was conceptualizing the implementation of electric power, he didn’t just stop at the idea. Edison figured out how to distribute it, in order for people to use it, making him money. Edison’s DC power was eventually replaced with AC power in most states during the mid 20th century; however parts of New York City used DC power until 2007.

“Just because something doesn’t do what you planned it to do doesn’t mean it’s useless.” –Thomas Edison

Lesson #5: Focus on One Idea

Thomas Edison also understood the power of focus. This is displayed by another one of my favorite quotes of his.

“I have more respect for the person with a single idea who gets there than for the person with a thousand ideas who does nothing.” –Thomas Edison

Thomas Edison used his focus and persistence to get results. Over the period of his life, Thomas Edison founded 14 companies, including General Electric, which is one of the largest companies in the world.

Edison’s strategy for inventing can serve any inventor who wants to make money; invent what people need and then actively promote your invention to find your customers. The only way your invention will have a shot is with persistent and proper marketing.

Create a Listing today and reach investors, patent buyers, retailers, and manufacturers looking for the next BIG ideas.

Learn more about Creating a Sales Pitch or Licensing a Patent.

Lindsey Yeauger is the Product Marketing Director for IdeaBuyer.com, The Online Marketplace for Intellectual Property. You can email her directly at Lindsey@IdeaBuyer.com

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Personality Characteristics of Successful Inventors

Sunday, January 2nd, 2011

Personality Characteristics of Successful Inventors

Successful inventors know more than just a technical sequence of steps. Beyond that, what really makes them successful is the personality characteristics they possess. They have a mindset that enables them to make the right decisions when they need to be made. While this is a bit harder to learn and master than the steps of a process, it is no less important. In fact, it may actually be more important. That being the case, let’s explore what some of these vital personality characteristics are.

1) Developing a bias towards action.

By far the most beneficial characteristic of successful inventors is having a bias towards action. Very simply, this is a shift in thinking where you are more inclined to do something than do nothing. When an opportunity presents itself, you move quickly and intelligently to capitalize on it. When a problem arises, you act just as quickly to neutralize it and minimize the damage. This is a major change from the habits of non-successful inventors (and non-successful people in general), who are usually happy to twiddle their thumbs while waiting for answers to serendipitously appear.

This is fatal to your chances of success. Therefore, you should make it your business to develop a bias towards action as quickly as possible.

2) Being decisive.

Going hand in hand with the a bias toward action is the habit of being decisive. As an inventor, you are the point man, the rainmaker, the go-to guy. You don’t have a CEO, human resources department, or labor union to bail you out when things go wrong. It’s you or bust, and that makes being decisive an absolute must. Again, this is more of a mentality than a step-by-step process. You need to feel ice in your veins when the time comes to make a big decision, being prepared to stake everything on the choice you ultimately make. As the great philosopher Ayn Rand wrote,

“An inventor is a man who asks ‘why?’ of the universe and lets nothing stand between the answer and his mind.”

3) Having integrity.

One of the biggest reasons people strike out on their own to invent stuff is they want to escape the backstabbing, soul-crushing, opportunistic corporate world. They didn’t want to BS and backbite their way to retirement. Integrity is very important to them, and should be to you.

Therefore, you want to be percieved as a man of your word.You never know who you are going to need a favor from. The person you you talked down last year might be in a position to make or break you someday. Plus, it’s just bad form to screw people in order to succeed. Stay true to your principles at all times and you will have mastered a crucial success habit.

4) Staying focused on your main goals.

Focus is another “state of mind” characteristic that you must work at if you don’t already have it. Very simply, it means devoting the most time to the things that move your goals closer to realization. Direct marketer John Carlton has a term for this: Operation Moneysuck. As he explained it, top copywriters were wasting their time if they worked on anything that didn’t bring in the money. They were not making money when they were fixing the copier, arguing on the phone with vendors, or issuing a refund.

The top inventors intuitively know this.

They know that every second they spend on other things is time they aren’t spending on finishing, packaging, and marketing their product. Adopt the same mindset and you will be well ahead of the curve.

5) Loyalty to your goals

This might seem like the same thing as staying focused on your goals, but it’s really not. Loyalty to your goals is what you need when a seemingly (but not actually) better opportunity arises. As human beings, it’s easier to take your eye off the ball. Especially when you get caught up in what seems cool and glamerous right now. But if you want to succeed as an inventor, you cannot succomb to this temptation. John Carlton elaborates:

“But when you have a set of goals to measure any incoming opportunity against, you know exactly what to do. If the opportunity moves you closer to your goal, then you jump on it. If it doesn’t… well, you’re allowed to reconsider your fundamental goals, but when you’re dead set on something specific (like being an entrepreneur) then it’s easy to let even hot opportunities go (like taking another job with The Man, regardless of how attractive the salary is).”

For an inventor, this means ignoring naysayers who tell you your dream is hopeless. It means listening to your own inner voice instead of surrendering it to people who want you to drag you down to their level.

6) Developing Strong ‘Why’s’

Why are you an inventor? Why are you inventing what you are inventing? Answering these questions – really, firmly, no-doubt-about-it answering them – will take you a long way toward following through on steps 4 and 5. One of the main reasons people don’t reach their goals is because they never had good reasons for setting them. Maybe they picked an arbitrarily high goal to impress their friends or family. Maybe they picked a goal they intuitively know is impossible to reach, so they give up. The solution is setting goals that are A) realistic and B) you actually want and need to achieve.

Think it through in such depth that you can recite your reasons at 3AM when someone pulls you out of a dead sleep and demands to know what they are. Once you are this resolved in why you are doing something, you will be virtually unstoppable.

Eric Corl is the President of Idea Buyer LLC, a new product development company and the parent company of IdeaBuyer.com. IdeaBuyer.com is a marketplace for new technology and products that gives inventors the opportunity to showcase their intellectual property to consumer product companies, entrepreneurs, retailers, and manufacturers.

Does Your Invention Have What it Takes?

Thursday, March 13th, 2008

Some mistakes are just too fatal to overcome. If you make them, your invention is pretty much dead on the water with no hope for success. Fortunately, your invention need not be doomed to the scrap heap of useless or uninteresting contraptions. A wise man once said that smart people learn from their mistakes, while geniuses learn from the mistakes of others. This article is an attempt to capitalize on the latter method. That being said, here are four surefire signs that your invention totally, unequivocally, and without argument, sucks.

1) You have no target market

Entrepreneur.com sums up this mistake:

“You have a big idea. You’re sure the masses will clamor for it. So you begin sinking lots of money into building your prototype, developing a business plan, hiring a patent attorney, and more. Little do you know there’s an identical product that’s already out there on the market. Yes, it can be heartbreaking to learn that someone else came up with your big idea first. But it’s even more heartbreaking when you’ve lost a significant amount of money because of it. Advice: be sure to research stores, the internet, catalogs, etc., before moving along in the invention process. I’ve seen people who’ve invested their life savings only to discover–too late–that their idea isn’t original. And it often takes a 10-minute search to find what you are looking for. How can you be sure your product doesn’t already exist? Spend enough time to ensure you’ve exhausted every angle. Search relevant stores wherever you go. Search the internet with multiple key words. In other words, don’t develop your product in a vacuum.”

This is by far the leading cause of inventions that suck. You cannot – repeat, NOT – create something no one wants and hope for a smash hit. If your invention is to succeed, it has to fill a real need for real people. Find out who they are before pouring your time and money into an invention.

2) Your invention is a vitamin instead of an Advil

The website AntiVentureCapital.com once had an article dividing ideas into two categories: vitamin and Advil. A vitamin is a nice product, but nothing that anyone would feel lost without. An Advil, on the other hand, fills a need so well that once it catches on, one can hardly imagine life without it. This is an instructive distinction for inventions, too. Who would be upset if your invention came off store shelves? Would anyone care? Would they even notice? Is your invention a vitamin, or an Advil?

It isn’t that all non-essential inventions suck; clearly, there is a large market for iPod accessories. It’s just that the ratio of bad vitamin inventions to bad Advil inventions is very lopsided in favor of the former. You are far less likely to screw up if your invention solves a major, pressing need than you are if you focus on some fringe desire that may or may not even exist.

3) It’s a “Me Too” invention

They say imitation is the finest form of flattery, but this is deadly advice in the invention world. It is statistically proven that the first and second to market take home the lion’s share of sales. It is also common sense that the hoards of knockoffs that inevitably follow are seen for what they are: knockoffs. The problem is that when something is first created, the first few producers make sure everyone knows about it. So by the time the knockoff artists come around, the buying public is fully aware that you are just the latest copycat. This being the case, you have no one but yourself to blame when sales plummet faster than The Core emptied theaters a few years back. Create something original, or at least add a new variation on an existing invention.

4) Your costs are out of control

Keeping costs low is not one of the sexier aspects of inventing, and therefore it is often avoided. Inventors without business acumen often assume that sales are all that matter. They figure with enough sales, they’ll have to turn a profit eventually regardless of how expensive it is to make their product. This is a deadly error that fells inexperienced inventors time and time again. It’s fine to use whatever is most convenient when you are making a prototype. At that stage, you are just trying to prove that your invention is workable. But once this is established and you set your sights to selling it, you need to find ways to get cheaper materials and supplies. This is crucial to turning a profit on each unit you sell and recouping the sizeable investment of time and money you are making in your invention.

If you steer clear of these four fatal errors, your invention probably won’t suck.

Eric Corl is the Founder and CEO of IdeaBuyer.com, the online marketplace for intellectual property that gives inventors the opportunity to showcase their intellectual property to consumer product companies, entrepreneurs, retailers, and manufacturers. You can email him at EricCorl@IdeaBuyer.com.