Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Mistakes Inventors Make

By Roger Brown 

Below are things Inventors need to Stop Doing or Truly Understand when it comes to inventing if they want to succeed. 

1. Understand that inventing is a business. Treat it like one. How do you expect a multimillion dollar business to take you seriously if you don’t appear to understand how business works?

2. Actually research your idea before you send it to a company. Walking into your local Wal-Mart or not having that product at your house does not constitute a complete search.

3. Don’t tell them “There’s nothing out there like this!” When spending 2 minutes on the web they find several items exactly like yours.

4. Understand every company has a different method and time range for reviewing submissions. Don’t send a proposal on Monday via snail mail and call them Tuesday at 8:30am wanting to know when they will be sending you a contract. It is a simple task to ask the company you are submitting material for review “What is your normal turnaround time for reviewing submissions?”                                                                                                                                        For example Progressive International only looks at new submissions the first week of every month. So, using that example if you sent it the second week of the month they would have already locked in those items they were going to review. You would be on next months list for review. So calling would be useless because you will be waiting 3 weeks before they even review it.

I always ask what the companies’ normal protocol for reviewing submissions is. That way I am not being a pest calling every week and I now know what to expect. It saves you a lot of headaches and nerves’ wondering what is going on if you just ask up front. Plus, it makes the company reviewers job easier not having you call every couple of days for an update.

5. Don’t be married to your product and totally against changes to make it marketable.

6. Put your contact information on every item you send them. Don’t make them guess who sent it. Companies will send parts of your submission to various groups within the company to get their input. So, if your material/prototype does not have your contact info on it the chances of it getting lost are high.

7. Don’t send prototypes unsolicited. Let them know a prototype is available upon request. You can’t expect a company to pay shipping to return your prototype for every prototype they receive unsolicited.

8. Understand every idea is not a million dollar idea. Yes, there are million dollar ideas, but they are not the majority of ideas. Be realistic in your expectations.

9. Realize everyone that rejects your idea is not stupid. They have their reasons. It may not make sense to you, but it does to them. If they sent you any feedback with the rejection try and learn from it to make your next presentation to a company better.

10. Don’t send a 20 page explanation of your product. Be concise and clear on your sell sheet. If it takes more than two pages to explain your idea you have a problem.

11. Know who you are sending your submission to in the company. Don’t assume they will figure it out for you if you just send it in care of the company. Submissions sent to the bulk/general mail box of a company rarely make it to the person you intend.

12. Don’t assume the person reading your sell sheet will magically know all the selling points/benefits of your product that you left out. Example: What if your idea revolves around fishing and they don’t fish and know nothing on the topic?

13. Be patient and do not call every other day asking if they have reviewed your product. They can be on vacation, at trade shows, out sick, or very busy. They are not sitting around and only waiting for your package.

14. Make sure you have an idea/plan of who you are going to contact about licensing your product before you spend the money for a provisional patent. A large number of Inventors pay for a provisional, knowing they don’t have money for a full patent and have not done any research on who might be interested in licensing it. They spend 6 months of the one year looking for company contacts which means they only have 6 months to try and gain any interest before their time runs out. They didn’t have any intention of paying for a patent and now are forced to let it drop or pay for a patent. If you work it right you have all of your 12 months to find a company.

15. If you decide to bring in a partner on your project – make sure you have a clear WRITTEN and SIGNED understanding what is expected from both sides and what each party is to receive for their efforts. It doesn’t matter if it is your best friend in the world, your sibling or a parent, GET IT IN WRITING. You need to have clear guidelines or one of you will end up doing the majority or all of the work and the other partner still gets their share of the gains.

16. Keep a concise log of who you contacted in the company and what you sent them. A number of Inventors send out packages and two days later couldn’t tell you what they sent or to whom. The person from that company calls and they are floundering trying to remember who this person is while talking to them on the phone.

17. When contacting a company remember they own the company, not you. Write your letter to the company from a realistic perspective; give them actual facts, not what you wish them to be. Don’t write your letter in a threatening tone or from the aspect that they are nuts if they turn you down. Don’t fill your letter with information they really don’t need, such as how you came up with the idea, how long it took you to build your prototype, etc. They are only interested in will it make them money. DO NOT USE THE PHRASE “My idea is worth MILLIONS!!!" Let them decide for themselves what it is worth.

18. Don’t send prototypes to companies that don’t work and tell them “I am sure you can work the bugs out of this”.

19. Make sure you know the companies submission policy BEFORE you send them anything. Some companies list the method and documents required prior to submitting any ideas to them. Some companies also post that if you send them any submissions and they like the idea that they are not obligated to compensate you for the submission. You MUST READ every boring line of any document you sign so you know what you are agreeing too.

20. When you are writing your proposal don’t use phrases that only you may know the meaning of such as “They will sell like gangbusters, more than you can shake a stick at, more than you can imagine, like you have never seen before, or You will sell a butt-load of these. For those of you not familiar with a “butt-load” (it’s a lot) the Oxford English Dictionary has a citation for “butt-load” as a unit of measure equal to “about six seams”,(A nautical term) which amounts to roughly 450 gallons.

Who says you can’t learn something new every day! : )

To learn more about Roger Brown, his inventions and services please visit his websites at:


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