We are in the age of the Entrepreneur/Inventor.  News of your average Joe-turned-millionaire by creating a product or an app is omnipresent.  Advertisements by companies promising to help launch your product ideas are everywhere, and television shows like Shark Tank are extremely popular – averaging over 6 million viewers.  With such constant bombardment of entrepreneurial success, it’s no wonder that so many people have become inspired to create the next big thing.

We LOVE innovators and their success stories, but, the reality is, the odds of launching a lucrative entrepreneurial endeavor are slim.  According to leading sources, the average success rate for a new product is only 3%.  With statistics like this, innovating is clearly risky business; however, there are steps you can take to improve your chances of success while protecting your cheese.

  • Do your research.  Is your product or idea unique?  Is there already something just like it on the market?  Before you invest your time and money, make sure you are not just reinventing the wheel.  If you do have a not-so-novel product, is there something that makes it fresh, distinctive or marketable to a particular audience?
  • Get a patent.  In this industry, imitation is the highest form of flattery.  It is also a surefire way to lose out on money.  If you have a new promising product, get a patent.  It may seem like a lot of money at the time, but it will certainly save you down the road if your product is “imitated” by other companies.
  • Build a prototype.  Don’t spend tens of thousands of dollars on inventory.  Whether you are planning to manufacture the product yourself, or license your idea, spend the money instead on a solid prototype that you can put in front of potential investors, distributors or licensees.
  • Beware of invention promotion companies.  There are many companies out there that offer to assist you with your product idea and submit your ideas to potential buyers.  While some are legitimate, many are not.  Be especially leery of companies that require payment upfront.
  • Know when to walk away.  Sometimes you just need to face the fact that a product is not going to be a slam-dunk.  Too many times we have talked to people who are so committed to making it big, they continue to sink money into an idea that will not pay for itself.  It’s tough to walk away when you’ve developed emotional ties to a business – we know. Seek advice from industry experts and even friends/family and then use your best judgment.

Written By Paula Brillson Phillips