Are you an innovator with a big idea? Here are a few tips if you’re launching a new product, project, or even an entirely new business.
The patent process
A good way to start the patent process is to get a provisional patent application. When this is approved, it means you are “patent pending.” It does not mean that you have a provisional patent; that doesn’t exist. The benefit of a provisional patent application is that you can use the date you filed for that application when you send in your full, formal patent application.
Since the full patent application takes such a long time, it’s helpful file a provisional application while you are testing the viability of your idea. Once you know it works, you can confidently invest time and money into getting a full patent, using the date of your provisional application.
Preventing people copying your product
A patent doesn’t really protect your work, but it allows lawyers to defend your intellectual property if the need arises. Regardless, if you have a great idea, bigger companies will likely want to use your idea and make it more cheaply than you can, squeezing you out of business. One way to avoid this is to go to them first and sell your product so that it gets out on their shelves and you continue to receive profit from it.
Also, be sure you own the tooling for your product. This makes it more difficult for people to copy your product, especially if you get it manufactured overseas. If you collaborate with designers, engineers, or other specialists to create your product, be sure that all parties sign a non-disclosure agreement.
What to do when you want to quit
It can be really difficult to stick with a risky business plan whenever bills come in and you’re unsure about how to pay them. The real question is: do you quit, or do you hustle?
If you decide to hustle, find ways to identify if your business or product idea will be successful with a minimal input of financial investment. Focus groups could be helpful. If you have a distinct product, crowdfunding to gauge interest can also help generate revenue.
Accountability helps, as well. I worked with the Francis Tuttle Business Incubator and found that the accountability in that program was very helpful as I planned for the success of simpliuniik. I received guidance on incremental milestones that added up, over time, to significant results for my company.