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Last week we discussed the first three things every inventor needs to consider before pursuing an idea they have. In Part II of “Inventing Wisely,” we talk about some essential aspects that inventors and product developers should seriously reflect upon before pursuing their latest idea.

Consider the cost of developing your product: Once you have established a niche audience, create an estimate of how much it will cost to take your idea to the shelf. Unless you are pitching your idea to a company that will patent, license, develop, produce and market your idea for a low upfront cost (and then take their own cut of the final sales agreed upon during negotiations), you are looking at spending a fair amount of money to get the idea off of the ground.

    • The easiest patent to file on your own is the provisional one that protects your idea for an entire year, which can cost between $65 to $260. This patent allows you to test your idea without worrying about someone else taking it. This also allows you to use the term “patent pending” to refer to your product.
    • A non-provisional patent can cost thousands of dollars and is necessary to file before the patent examination process can occur.
    • You may require the assistance of a patent lawyer to guide you through the filing and paperwork process, adding to the cost of production.
    • Prototypes of the invention can give you an idea of how much it costs to manufacture the item, but you also have to take into account the cost of shipping and any additional fees that will be taken by retailers (if applicable).
    • Don’t forget the cost of labor. Even if you plan on creating, selling and shipping each item yourself, your time is worth something financially as well.

Finally, gauge the cost of creating the product itself along with the manufacturing process against the marketability of the product. How much will you sell the product for? Will it garner enough consumer interest to at least break if it does not become profitable? If you choose to sell your idea for another company to produce, does your idea hold enough potential for profitability to be worth their time, effort and expense? If the invention fails, you could lose all of the money that went into the patent and manufacturing processes, and your time spent will have been in vain.

Take copious notes for each invention you are thinking of patenting and do not make any hasty or ill-thought-out decisions until you have created a solid business plan. Having the information on paper substantiates your decision to pursue or drop the project and can make any flaws in the invention more obvious to you rather than if the idea solely resides in your mind. If the idea turns out to be a flop, you won’t have wasted any money pursuing it and you are therefore free to invest your time and energy elsewhere. However, if the idea turns out to be the next big thing, your notes will provide a strong foundation for building on your idea.