How to Prioritize Your Product Ideas

Something central to the philosophy we communicate to our clients at Patent Mentors is how to develop an “Inventor’s Mindset.” Developing this mindset allows many people with a talent for inventing to see opportunities all around them, almost to the point of compulsive behavior. This can quickly become an obstacle to success, however, if your inventions multiply too much. In that case, developing a few profitable products can jeopardized by divided focus, lack of resources, or any one of a number of problems that come from doing too many projects at once. In fact, one of the questions we most frequently hear from aspiring product developers is “how do we know what to focus on?” While there is no perfect answer to this, and prioritization will always be a challenge, here are some basic guidelines to consider.

Consider the Field

  • Is your invention in a field that you know well? If not you are much less likely to be able to spot flaws that could prevent its acceptance.
  • Do you have sourcing or manufacturing knowledge related to your invention? If not you will have extra challenges refining the design, estimating costs, developing a business plan or licensing your patent.

Consider the Resources

  • Is your invention something you can potentially develop and take to market using your own resources? If not, this may not be a reason to de-prioritize, however it makes your invention much more of a lottery ticket rather than something you have a fairly large degree of control over
  • How big is the potential market?
  • Are there entrenched competitors? If your invention is for a variation of an existing product, you will likely have greater competition and if your product created its own unique category.

Consider the Numbers

  • How easily can you test market your product?
  • Have there been other similar products that failed? Do you know why and do you have strong evidence that you may be able to succeed where others have failed?
  • How many other products do you already have in process?

Consider the Commitment

  • Is this your first invention? Many people over-commit to their early inventions before they develop the market experience to judge whether an idea is worth pursuing, and just as importantly, how much time, money and effort is justified by the idea.
  • How far can you proceed and how much can you invest without reasonable assurance that you will receive a patent? For example, if you are developing a product based on an expired patent, you may be able to proceed without delay, however if you will require a patent, then you may be better off prioritizing the patent application and then working on other ideas during the time you will be waiting for feedback on your patent application?

While these are a small sample of considerations, they should give you a sense of how to love your inventions without over-committing to them. At Patent Mentors, a rational, pragmatic mindset is what we try to help our clients develop.

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