It’s time for more invent help - now that we have talked about the invention idea, the invention process and the patent application process on other pages. As Thomas A. Edison is known to have said - “invention is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration.” Today we talk about the perspiration part.

This invent help is usually on the back end of the invention process in the minds of most inventors - but should really be closer to the front end. What are you going to do when you get your patent? How do you get your invention made? Who wants it? Can it sell? What about a license? These questions should really be at least partially answered before you even start on the patent process.

Invent help is what you need if you don’t know the answers to the above questions - or - you don’t even know where to start looking for the answers. Here is where the perspiration part begins. Lots of research - testing of your idea to see if regular people are interested in your product - and getting a good idea of the cost that the public might be willing to pay for your new gizmo - compared to the cost of making it - are some of the roads to be well-traveled to develop your idea.

Invent help comes in two basic packages. First - if you have a business mind and an entrepreneurial personality - you may want to build your own company to manufacture and sell your invention yourself. If you have the right talents, the persistence, and oodles of optimism - AND if you have the ability to persuade other people to see the pictures in your mind - you might make it this way.

Second - if the invent help you want is merely someone to buy or license your invention - you may not need all of the entrepreneurial spirit required above. Just remember - either way - you always have to persuade others to see your vision.

All this assumes of course that you are like most people, and you are looking for $millions$ from your fantastic idea. If you are part of the small minority that just wants a piece of paper to frame and put on the wall - go for it. Get your invent help from a patent attorney - get your patent - hang it on the wall and move on. The rest of this page will discuss the invent help for the entrepreneur. Licensing will be studied later.

Invent help in the form of money from investors to support your invention habit - sometimes even from family and friends - almost certainly requires the development of a business plan. A business plan should be considered a necessity for proper development and funding.

Research needs to be done to answer the questions that will undoubtedly asked by any potential investor:

  • What is your invention (product)?
  • Who wants it and why (demographics of buying public)?
  • Where and how will they get it (marketing and distribution)?
  • How much money is needed and specifically for what (product development, manufacturing, marketing, distribution, business management costs)?
  • How much does the investor make and when does he get his money back (potential return of investment (“ROI”) and return time frame)?

As you can see - to get invent help takes lots of planning and speculation. The figures - in most cases - will be what they call “pro forma,” because usually there is no actual business up and running to make your new product. BUT - all of the information supplied and the figures presented have to have some basis in reality.

Get and compare similar products to your own - like the cost of development and manufacture. How much does the similar product cost to make - and how much does it sell for? Can your invention be made with less cost and be competitive in price with the similar items?

One prime question is - will anyone buy your product? This is essential to know. If it won’t sell - there is no justification to develop it. Too many inventors have the belief that “if you build it they will come” (sorry Kevin Costner). That just is not true.

Yes - there are anomalies like the “Pet Rock” from the olden days. This was a “product” that hit the market at the right time - the right price - and tickled a nation’s collective funny bone.

But a few things to consider here -

  • the “Pet Rock” was not patented, nor patentable;
  • hundreds, maybe thousands of “inventors” contacted the Pet Rock developer to market their great idea;
  • and there was not one further success.

The Pet Rock developer ended up tending bar near Silicon Valley with no more marketing hits.

What I am getting at here is that to gain success is to get as much info on your product development costs, the marketplace, and the costs of making and selling your product, and then figure out - at least roughly - how much is going to be left over after all the bills are paid (= profit & ROI). THEN you can go for invent help from an investor.

In figuring profit, it is NOT just what you will make - or even what you and your investor will make. You have to consider the entire food chain - developer/prototype, to manufacturer, to wholesaler, to retailer, then to you and your investor. It is a long chain and each party takes a cut. Cost estimates have to be determined for each link:

  • Determine the start-up costs to get a prototype and to prepare for and manufacture the invention
  • Find comparable items in the marketplace and estimate their same costs
  • Compare the comparable item’s retail price to what your estimated retail price might be (a rule of thumb for figuring retail cost is to multiply FIVE TIMES COST OF MANUFACTURE. The opposite of this - or 20% of retail price can be used to estimate the manufacturing cost of a competitive product from it’s retail price). Your costs should not be above the competitive items unless you can show the customer more benefits
  • Check for costs in each link of the food chain. Each link costs money: raw materials - equipment - services - manufacturing space - warehouse space - office space - shelf space - packaging - advertising/marketing - - transportation - customer service - utilities - legal & accounting fees - taxes - etc. - etc. - etc.
  • It is best to at least take a prototype and test or survey the market. Find out the interest level of the buying public and how your product is (or is not) an improvement on what is presently available. It is best to do this before invent help is secured and before you have spent a lot of time and money

One invent help for free here. In setting a price for a new invention - along with checking the competition - is keeping the magic number $19.99 in mind. If you can bring the manufacturing costs in line with $4.00 or less, you will be golden with the infomercial crowd.

If you watch infomercials - you will see that almost every sale is in the $19.99 range. They may keep piling on extra products to pump up the sales - but the end price stays at $19.99. You can assume that all the products that are eventually offered at that price cost a total of $4.00, more or less.

The infomercial folks have researched this area - believe me, they do research - and have determined this amount adds to sales. Something to keep in mind.

Another thing to keep in mind. The manufacturer, and the wholesaler, and the retailer, and sometimes even the investor, don’t give a hoot about your baby, your wonderful invention. They sell boxes. If what’s in the box sells - they’re happy. If the box doesn’t sell - they get another box. Period.

The value of your box is the profit it brings in. New features and benefits and life-saving products are nothing but motivators to make more people buy boxes. Do not lose hope or have your ego crushed if no one pays any attention to your masterful mind that thought this wonderful invention up.

Your job at this point is to show that “everyone” will like, and more specifically, BUY YOUR PRODUCT. Crass - but true. Keep this in mind - and point to the ROI. Along with this keep in mind that space is limited - advertising space - shelf space - catalog space - and your product has to use that space better than any other product to make the sharks in the food chain happy. More boxes sold = happy. Less boxes sold = bye-bye.

Another thing to remember - the customer has choices. The customer can choose to buy your gadget - he can choose to go with the “other product” - or, she can choose to buy nothing. Your product has to have a combination of benefits and price that will entice the customer to buy your product. You are in charge of highlighting the benefits of your new invention. Marketing gurus can take over that end of the process IF you give them something to work with.

Also remember - the key is benefits - not features - benefits. Your invention may have lots of features - but you have to show how those features will make a customer’s life easier, better, happier, sexier, and all at an affordable price. Lots of work to do to get invent help. Who said inventing was easy?

To give you some invent help in developing a business plan for your invention - here is a guide that I have used along with other people I have worked with in the past. The guide is prepared by Rhonda Abrams, who writes a widely-read small business column seen in over 100 newspapers across the country.

It is a comprehensive guide that goes from Starting The Process through a Sample Plan - with worksheets, examples and charts to help you on your way - over 400 pages of help including some funding and other resources. I have used other guides and this is one of the most comprehensive that I have used - and - it was recommended to me by a very active entrepreneur : INVENT HELP: BUSINESS PLAN

Other books on the subject that have been recommended:



For general information on inventions and the patent process, go to:

For a history of invention in the 1700's and 1800's, I have found and annotated the following and published it as a Kindle book: