Invention ‘journey’ works best as a series of multiple pursuits.
If you are new to the world of inventing and working on your first product idea, you’ll soon discover that it’s never quick and easy. Because it’s a long and complicated process with many challenges, chances are you’ll often hear it referred to as a “journey”—one hopefully with a destination of commercial success.
That analogy reinforces your goal of getting that solitary great idea to the marketable promised land. It’s an awesome way to look at it and will provide your mind with an optimistically measurable beginning and end.
Unfortunately, it’s not entirely accurate.
Most inventors and industry professionals I have worked with can probably recall my all-too-frequent use of the journey reference as well. The difference, however, is that I always follow up by noting that regardless of initial intentions and goals, it’s rarely all about just one idea or product.
For most of us, yes, inventing is a journey, but it is one that begins with a single idea and then sparks a passion that continues to grow. Once you’ve taken that first step and realize you’re an inventor, you almost never look back. Probably unknown to you at its early stages, the one-product journey of yours that you think means everything will ultimately become just a small piece
of a much longer and convoluted voyage.
I personally do not know any inventors who stopped after a single product idea, myself included. The few who succeeded right out of the gate were fueled and empowered by their success and couldn’t wait to light the fire again. The remaining majority who failed eventually just dusted off and kept moving, never taking “no” for an answer. It’s a phenomenon that you’ll often hear me explain thusly: “We’re inventors; it’s what we do.”
If you still think that your inventing journey will begin and end with your one big idea, consider the failure rates for new idea projects. Depending on the reporting source, they range from an optimistic 80 percent to a hope-crushing 97 percent. Based on those numbers, putting all of your eggs in one creative basket is, at the very least, a bad business decision.
So it would seem that multiple-idea pursuits for the average inventor are not only inevitable by nature but also the best way to increase chances of invention success. Of course, this doesn’t
mean one should start multiple projects all at once in hopes of a “hit,” similar to purchasing a handful of scratch-off lottery tickets. It also doesn’t necessarily mean you should plan on doing a
pre-set number of projects before you start.
What it does mean is that with every project you begin, you should proceed intelligently, cautiously and most important, economically. Never jump in with both feet and go boldly forward, eyes blinded by the adrenaline-fueled love you have for your great idea. Stay grounded, pace yourself and take small, well-crafted steps, each carefully addressing the necessary next phase in the process. These basic principles are the foundation of a system we developed and refined after years of trial and error, and what we now use to safeguard interests of the inventors we help every day.
As you stand there staring at an idea so amazing you almost can’t believe you came up with it, it may be difficult to accept, but it may not be your best. It’s also almost certainly not your last. There will (and should) be many more to come—which, if you think about it, makes perfect sense. We’re inventors; it’s what we do.