From Invention Idea to Store Shelves: A Product Development Guide

Innovation is incredibly important. Over 200,000 patents are issued in the United States each year.

Inventions and innovations aren’t just for private individuals, either. Companies that are serious about remaining relevant invest in new intellectual property and products, as well. 14% of companies that invest in research and development feel that generating new trademarks is a priority to their on-going success.

The origin of inspiration remains a mystery. There’s no telling where the next world-changing idea will come from. Once you have an idea, however, there are steps you can follow to bring your idea to life.

If you’ve got an invention idea, here are the steps you can take to make your product development as smooth and efficient as possible

1. Document Your Ideas

After you’ve had your brilliant idea and begin developing your invention idea in earnest, it’s incredibly important to document every step of the process. This plays an important part in patenting your product.

The patent office will need proof that you’re the first person to come up with your idea. When it comes to documentation, “More is better,” is the rule of thumb.

Your ideas will need to be documented properly as well, though. An inventor’s journal is a surefire way to make sure your documentation is handled correctly. It’s simply a bound notebook with consecutive, numbered pages that can’t be removed.

You’ll want to get your documentation notarized from time to time, as well. This will verify a timeline for your invention idea.

Keep a log of electronic documents related to your patent process, also. Electronic documents aren’t enough on their own to verify your claim, as they could be edited. They could help your case, however, as most electronic message feature some sort of timestamp.

2. Research Your Product

As you begin to develop the idea for your product in earnest, you’ll need to make sure nothing like it already exists. Just because you haven’t heard of it doesn’t mean it’s not out there.

You’ll want to start by researching the existing patents. You can visit the U.S. Patent Office website to search their patent listings. You should be able to do this on your own, without needing a lawyer or legal assistant.

You’ll need to check the artwork and drawings related to patents as well, however. If there are even illustrations related to your product idea, there’s a good chance a patent won’t be issued.

3. Make Sure It’s Marketable

You’ll need to make sure that your idea can be profitable as part of developing your invention idea. You should have started to see some evidence of this when you were looking into similar patents for your product. That can send some conflicting signals, though.

If there are a lot of patents similar to your invention idea, that means you’re trying to break into a saturated market. It simultaneously shows that there’s a healthy demand for the product you’re developing.

No patents are similarly conflicted. It could mean that there’s no demand for the idea you’re hoping to bring to the market. It also could indicate a wide-open niche with no competition.

This is a good habit to get into, anyway. Learning how to do market research will play an important part once your product is getting ready for consumers. Get into the habit of things like A/B testing and creating buyer personas now, and they’ll be instinctive by the time you’re market-ready.

4. Assemble a Team

It’s very hard to remain motivated in a vacuum. If you’re working all on your own, the odds are very good that you’ll lose momentum before your project reaches fruition.

Working with a team keeps you honest. It’s also an honest assessment of what the invention is like. It’s not like in the movies.

In the movies, you might see a would-be inventor have their lightning bolt moment of inspiration. Then you’ll see a montage with the inventor holding their head in their hands. At the end, they’ll be left smiling with a prototype of their invention in their garage or basement.

The reality of developing an invention idea is much more involved than that.

Look at the steps we’ve already mentioned. Simply searching the patents is a full-time discipline in its own regard. That’s to say nothing of manufacturing or understanding business law.

Assembling a team also gets you thinking along the lines of what you’ll need once your product reaches the market. Trying to do everything yourself simply isn’t scalable or sustainable.

5. Make A Prototype

You’re very nearly ready to bring your idea into reality. You need to build a prototype of your invention.

Building a prototype happens in phases, as well. The first step is drawing and sketching. Considering how much of the invention process happens digitally, these days, there are a bunch of great programs to aid you with your drawing. You’ll need to include at least one sketch in your inventor’s notebook as well, however, for documentation’s sake.

Making a mockup is the next step of the prototyping process. There are a lot of excellent programs for 3D rendering, as well, to make assembling a mockup as painless as possible.

Finally, you’re going to make a model. This is a physical replica of your finished product. Usually, they’re made at a smaller scale, so you can see any potential issues your invention might run into in manufacturing.

Now you’re ready to build your prototype. If you need a prototype but don’t have manufacturing equipment at your disposal, you can always check out waterjet cutting resources for fast and high-quality prototyping.

Congratulations! You now have a working example of an invention you’ve created straight from your imagination.

The world is changing faster than we ever could’ve predicted. Innovation and imagination are going to be essential in navigating these shifting times.

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