How to Make Money From Your Inventions

Could inventing a new product be a good way to make money? If you have a great idea for a new product – here’s how to make money from it.

Over the centuries there have been a lot of brilliant inventors… take Thomas Edison or Tim Berners-Lee for example. But the fact is, you don’t need to come up with a world changing idea to make money from inventing. Even a fairly simple new product invention could make you tens or even hundreds of thousands of pounds.

If you have an idea for an invention or new product how might you go about getting it off the ground?

Here are a few pointers:

1. Start with a simple idea. Just accept that you won’t be able to come up with an improved wheel. And even if you could, what are your chances of being able to develop it, manufacture it, market it and then convince billions of people to dump their existing wheels for yours? Not very good.

It’s far better to keep to something simple. Maybe something that is an improvement of an existing idea or a combination of existing ideas. (James Dyson has a fantastic track record at doing just that.)

How about a new tool? Or household gadget? Or garden product? Or hobby product? Or energy saving device? Or a toy or puzzle? Or a time saving gadget? It doesn’t need to be something that will change the world.

2. Make a working model of it if you can. People are a hundred times more likely to take your invention seriously if they can see that your idea actually works. A working model doesn’t need to be fancy. Something cobbled together from bits and pieces you can buy at B&Q or Maplin might do the job.

3. Watch for inventing scams. Unfortunately there are some scammers out there looking to take advantage of people who think they have a good idea but don’t know how to pursue it. These include dubious services who charge thousands on the promise they can help you patent your idea and market it. Usually they don’t.

4. Register a patent yourself. This will stop other people, including much bigger companies, poaching your idea. Like I said, you don’t need an agent to do it for you. You can do it yourself through the Intellectual Property Office here: http://www.ipo.gov.uk/types/patent/p-applying.htmable

(Note: It will cost you around £200 or so)

5. Keep control of your invention if you can. Look at if you could manufacture it and market it yourself. When James Dyson couldn’t find anybody to take his new vacuum cleaner seriously he decided to manufacture it himself – and never looked back.

Many products can be manufactured for peanuts in countries like China, even in small quantities. As well as offering your product to shops, supermarkets and wholesalers try selling it on eBay. You get to access a market of millions of potential customers at very little cost.

6. If you can’t afford to develop your product yourself licence it to another company. That’s what Ron Hickman, inventor of the famous Workmate bench did. Black & Decker initially rejected the idea but then went on to buy the licence and sell 60 million units of what is another very simple invention.

Once you’ve patented your idea write to companies who make similar or complementary products. Ask if they’re interested in some kind of licence to produce and sell it for you. With this sort of deal you could either sell the idea outright for a lump sum – or ask claim a royalty fee on each unit sold. That could even bring you a residual income for ever.

If you decide to take this option do take independent advice on whether you’re being offered a good deal or not.

7. Of course, you could take it into the BBC Dragons’ Den if you really wanted to. You’d have to suffer the discomfort of having to grovel for half an hour for what at the end of the day often isn’t a very good offer. If you fancy it though, their online application form is here.

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