A great idea can change an industry if you let it. But it’s on you, the inventor, to take action steps. There are eight steps to making your invention a real product. They are:

1. Conceptualize Your Invention And Prepare Yourself

How To Make Your Invention Real

The first step in how to make your invention real is to conceptualize your invention. In the earliest stages of invention having a clear idea and concept of your invention is key. Inventors must know where they want to go with their idea. And they need to see it so clearly that it’s easily communicated.

If you have an invention idea, it’s important to be prepared. So ask yourself these critical questions:

  • Have I done enough research on my customer?
  • Is my idea good enough to make it in a saturated market place?
  • Are there any similar products in the market that fulfill the customer’s needs?
  • Is my product idea clear enough or do I need help clarifying my vision?

When you’re able to clearly answer these questions, you can move onto the next step in how you get your invention made.

2. Document Your Idea

How To Make Your Invention Real

So you have a clear picture of your idea and you’ve done your research. Your in-depth research has led you to clarify your idea and hone in on your customer. The idea is indeed sound and there’s a market for it.

Now, your next move in how to make your invention a reality is to document your idea.

Here are some key steps to take when documenting your idea:

  • Write down your invention idea in an inventors journal (a bound notebook with consecutively numbered pages that cannot be removed or reinserted).
  • Include details about your inventions concept, design and marketability in your inventor’s journal.
  • In your Inventor’s journal, date and time it, and have it signed by a witness.
  • Take pictures of your invention and watermark the date you took them.

Taking these critical steps in documenting your idea will protect you in the long-run when the inevitable idea contestant comes forward.

3. Perform Product & Market Research

So you’ve documented your idea and you want to move forward with it. The next step is to perform product and market research. Many ideas don’t make money for inventors because the inventor didn’t do any research.

Product research will help you understand whether your idea already exists. There are key steps to take in product research they are:

  • Search art databases to ensure your drawings and ideas don’t already exist in art form.
  • Search the national patent office to see if your idea and renderings don’t already exist.
  • Search for similar items in the marketplace and see if there are any additional gaps in the marketplace to fill.

Market research will help you see if there is already a product on the market that answers your customers pain points. Here are some steps to take in market research:

  • Host casual focus groups with prospective customers
  • Create online surveys that uncover customer pain points
  • Gather all your feedback and use it to determine whether your invention idea is sound.

4. Design your Product

How To Make Your Invention Real

Now that you’ve performed product and market research, the next step is to start the design of your product. There are key principles inventors need to use when designing products. They are:

  • Brainstorming: How do you want to communicate your idea visually? Think about how your idea will look on paper or tablet. In the design world brainstorming means defining the problem. It’s also about coming up with a lot of ideas. Having answers to solve every as many problems as possible is critical. At this point, critical eyes are not welcome.
  • Outlining expectations: Having a sense of direction will be critical at this stage. It might look like having loosely outlined tasks to complete in the coming weeks. It might be listing which industrial design firms to call for help with prototyping. But, whatever it is, having expectations keeps you on track.
  • Sketching it out: Sketching is a great way to start honing in on your design vision for your idea. They don’t have to be perfect. In fact, it’s better if they’re rough. But they do have to show how you imagine your product to be.

5. Manufacture a Prototype

Creating the design of your intended product was a big step. But a prototype is equally important. Because without a prototype it’s almost impossible to bring your invention to life. Generally, there are three steps involved in manufacturing a prototype. They are:

  • Design a concept sketch of what your prototype will look like and how it will function.
  • Create a 3D digital model of your idea.
  • Build a physical model of your invention.
  • Find a manufacturer to help you build and test your prototype on a larger scale.

6. Apply For A Provisional Patent

So you’ve got the makings of a product on your hands, congratulations! The next step is to make sure it stays yours. A provisional patent gives an inventor a great benefit. Inventors can apply for this kind of patent without an official patent claim, declaration, oath, or disclosure agreement. Provisional patent applications go through a 12 month wait period for the patient to be legally binding. This starts the day the patient is filed. So if an inventor wants to benefit from an early filing, they must also file for a nonprovisional application for patent.

7. Find a Manufacturer (Optional if Licensing)

The next step making your invention real is to find a manufacturer for your product. But before you do, there are some details to iron out.

  1. What type of manufacturer are you looking for? There are three major types. They are:
  • Manufacturers who make products based on your product ideas.
  • Suppliers (also known as a manufacturer), wholesalers, or distributors who buy existing brands and products
  • Dropshipping companies that supply products and fulfill orders of brands and products that already exist.

2. Do you want a domestic or international manufacturer?

  • Domestic manufacturers are great for environmental conscious inventors who want to keep a closer eye on quality control.
  • International manufacturers may be your best bet if you’re more concerned about long-term international reach.

3. What do you want to offer as an inventor?

  • Are you open to custom orders? If so, your manufacturer must offer that.
  • What’s your desired lead time (time between order placement and shipping)?
  • What are you willing to spend on shipping costs?
  • What’s your ideal cost per unit?
  • What’s the defect policy of the manufacturers you’re considering?
  • What are factory conditions like? Are they sustainable or ethical?

4. Order quantities and payment

  • How many product units do you want made initially? Suppliers have a minimum commitment they require, so ensuring that you agree with that number is key.
  • There are a lot of manufacturers who require you to pay up front for them to begin production. So consider your budget and preference, see if you can negotiate, and make a decision from there.

8. Sell/License Your Product

For inventors or small manufacturers, selling or licensing your product is your best bet. Product licensing helps inventors sell their product ideas to a manufacturing company. In return for selling your idea to them, you make a profit, through a percentage of each sale.

There are some benefits to selling/licensing your product. Those benefits include:

  • Avoid product development challenges and risks (such as lack of experience or money to produce items).
  • Open up the door for extra income opportunities

There are some drawbacks to consider too:

  • Once you sell the idea to a company, it belongs to the company. So if they create a new and improved version of your invention, you probably won’t see any royalties from that.
  • It’s not likely an inventor will become wealthy selling their ideas to bigger companies. So if wealth is your aim, you should reconsider your options.

This guest blog post was provided by Kevin Mako from MAKO Design + Invent, a 30-person product design team spread across 4 offices to serve you (Austin, Miami, San Francisco, & Toronto). Need help with developing your product idea? Click this link to contact the team at MAKO Design + Invent.