1. Crash and burn by flying solo! When should the ideal time for developing your team be? At the onset, prior to the patent application being filed!
At each step involve a different member of your team. Use the team concept!
2. Hook up with a scam company! A sure fire way to shoot yourself in the foot! Although many messages are sent through the emails and postal services of our country, thousands of inventors annually fall prey to these Invention Development Companies. Avoid being scammed!
3. Unrealistic expectations! Make certain your expectations are in the realistic range. If you are using the team approach, your marketing expert should define, based on past experience, the variables that will likely come into play during the negotiating process, and what should be reasonable for you to expect. If you've paid him, listen to him!!!
4. Hold your invention too close to your chest! Make certain that the fears you have are valid fears. 97% of all Americans are honest citizens — only 3% are thieves.
Thieves do not want to steal ideas — they have no proprietary worth until they have been reduced to practice. Due diligence and standard book-keeping will prevent such thefts — but be much more wary when approaching the prototype stage!
5. The R/C factor! Change is a way of life. To resist it is to admit defeat. Never take an attitude that a recommended change in design, or material, or packaging is unnecessary criticism. View it with a positive factor and weigh the variables! R/C = Resistance to Change
6. Thump your chest because of your invention! You have a right to be proud of your invention — but it will serve no purpose if it dominates your life.
Many executives and buyers I have visited with in the last few years have told me that for the most part they stereotype inventors, because almost to a tee, they all thump their chest and show far too much pride — instead of business sense.
You cannot convince anyone your product is good — you can only offer ideas to convince the corporate buyer to test or market the product for you. If you go into a meeting bursting with pride, chances are you'll come out deflated like a busted balloon! Remember, you are there for one thing — to strengthen your ability to make a deal!
7. Go to a Relative for Validation of Your Idea! Please understand that relatives and friends are not objective in regards to your invention. They are much too close to your emotions, so they will tell you your baby is beautiful — even if it is so ugly they are afraid of it!
I suggest for a truly objective evaluation, contact one of the excellent University Programs — or if involved in a team effort, solicit the true thoughts of the team.
8. Decide there is too much competition in the marketplace! A Classic shot in the dark — right to the foot! When Nigel Stanley developed the Stanley line of beverage products for keeping things warm, hot, or cold, he was up against the leader in the world for Thermos bottles — a genuine Thermos-brand bottle.
Today the Thermos name lives on — but all other vacuum bottles are now also called Thermos bottles! And how many brands are there? Rubbermaid, American Camper, Guardian, and on and on! Same with watches, toasters, dishwashers, etc., etc., etc.!
Competition only validates the fact that a market exists, No competition indicates a serious problem as to why something comparable is not already on the market!
9. Try to sell to Nicaragua when you can't speak Spanish! Admittedly this could be hard to do! But before you can sell anything, even a licensing opportunity, you must first be able to sell yourself!
To sell yourself, you must learn to talk the talk of the natives — or employ someone to do the talking for you. If you are selling or licensing a retail product, know what the descriptive terms — gross markup, landed gross, cost -to-sell, dollars per square foot, profit per square foot, turnover rate, etc. — mean before you make the presentation, and how they will apply to that buyer's or licensee's decision to accept your product once you've sold yourself. If this can't be accomplished, the odds are great that your product will wither on the vine — another shot in the foot!
10. Stay away from Inventor Groups — they might steal your idea! Believe it or not, I get this complaint at least once a week! They are totally unfounded of course, but it does point out the paranoia in the inventive community.
A good inventors group is one where the older, experienced inventors take the younger inventors by the hand and help them through the process. I always recommend inventor groups to inventors, and try to bash the myth of idea theft all together. As I said earlier, ideas are not stolen — products are!
11. Cheap packaging! Yeah, cheap packaging! WRONG! Let's say suitable packaging, OK? So what is suitable for your product? A very good way of finding out is to actually visit a few departments where your product might be sold, and buy a few packages of a similar-sized product.
The application value of the product is NOT what sells it — the packaging impulse must be overwhelming, it must command attention, and the psychology of colors must be enforced. If it is as cheap as you can make it, don't look for it to survive — you may as well go ahead and shoot yourself in the foot!
A great idea at this stage is to find a good graphics design artist who has done packaging layout. Remember, an item that has a fifty-cent retail can sell for $5.00 if the packaging is capable of stimulating the interest!
Perceived value of the product is secondary to the packaging commitment! And guess what! The buyer (corporate) who previews the product will come much closer to buying YOU if the packaging depicts his needs.
12. Favor cost more than safety! You don't even need to take careful aim on this one — just shoot with wild abandon and hit yourself in the foot!
Anytime you sacrifice safety for cost you are inevitably doomed. It may not be next week, or even next year, but it will happen.
Americans have came to rely on built-in safety measures to not only reduce the risk of injuries, but it has also became synonymous with quality in our country. There is absolutely no way of telling what it will cost you, but there are people out there waiting to slam you — including politicians and the Ralph Naders of our country — so make absolutely sure there are no known overlooked or slighted safety features in your product.
Next month we'll continue with some more great ways to "shoot yourself in the foot".