The beauty of invention is that no matter how many innovations are out there, there’s still something new to bring into the world. In 2022, the number of patents filed worldwide rose to an all-time high of 278,000.
If you have an idea for an invention that could improve people’s lives, it can be tricky to figure out the steps of how to start an invention on your own. Research, documentation and high-level conceptual thinking are vital before you jump into design and prototypes. Once you’re on solid ground with your invention, it’s important to reach out to experts to help you through the complexities of the patent process. To get started, here are the top eight tips for new inventors.
8 Tips for How To Start an Invention
Follow these tips to keep your invention on track and avoid having to do extra work later.
1. Begin With a Solvable Problem
All useful inventions arise from a need or problem that people encounter. When you identify the problem your invention will solve, you naturally determine your invention’s target audience at the same time.
An invention doesn’t have to solve a problem for the masses to be useful and even lucrative. In fact, narrowing down your target audience to a specific group of people can ease every stage of the process. Consider common problems in your field of work or your favorite hobby. You’ll already have an expert perspective on how your invention can help your peers.
Your problem doesn’t have to be on a grand or global scale to be worthwhile, either. Small annoyances — such as phone mounts falling over or headphones being uncomfortable to sleep in — are the perfect sorts of problems to tackle with an invention.
2. Keep Your Idea for an Invention Simple
The best ideas for how to start an invention are simple and straightforward. Why should you simplify your idea?
- You can perfect the design of a simple invention that only involves a handful of parts.
- Manufacturing is easier with a simple invention.
- Simple invention concepts are easy to explain and market to your target audience.
Never worry that your invention idea is “too simple.” The best and most actionable solutions are often the most basic.
3. Document All Work on Your Invention
When you first begin thinking about how to start an invention, purchase a blank notebook and make a dated journal entry. Write down your initial invention concept and get a friend or family member to sign the journal as a witness. Print documentation is important even if most of your notes are in digital formats. The more you have written down about your invention process, the better.
Document any and all invention-related work you do, including your solvable problem, target audience, market research and initial design concepts. Date each entry. Keeping thorough dated records is the easiest way to prove that your invention is your own when you reach the patenting process. Having an organized record will also make your inventing process run more smoothly.
4. Research Your Invention’s Field
Before you start designing, building or buying materials, put at least a week of dedicated effort into market research. This time can save you the headache of inventing something that already exists or trying to innovate in an overcrowded field.
That said, if you find a product geared towards your chosen problem, your invention could still be superior to the competition. Research can tell you if your idea has an advantage over existing solutions, such as being easier to produce or delivering better results.
5. Design a Prototype
Once you’re sure that your idea is simple, fills a specific need and has a place in its field, it’s time for the most exciting step of how to start an invention: prototyping.
Sketch out and plan your prototype before you build. Don’t worry about making your prototype perfect, as early prototypes should be closer to rough drafts than finished products. Document your process with photos in your invention journal, but resist the urge to share too much about the project in these early stages.
6. Refine Your Prototype
Many beginner inventors are so excited about their first prototype that they forget to refine it. Examine your work carefully, looking for any piece of the invention that can be streamlined or simplified.
If your invention is a tool, use the prototype under different conditions and imagine any problems you can solve in advance. Consider complicating factors— such as disability or poor mobility due to age — and see if you can make your prototype safer or easier to use.
7. Allow Yourself To Start Over if Needed
Great inventors cycle through hundreds of ideas to arrive at a handful of successful projects. Don’t be discouraged if your invention idea starts to look less promising after market research or prototype troubles. Give yourself permission to start over with another idea and come back to your initial idea later. The process of how to start an invention is very rarely a direct line from one idea to one product.
8. Reach Out to Patent Experts
Get in touch with experts before attempting to file a patent application. With a well-researched and well-documented invention idea, you can consult with us at Lonestar Patent Services for free. Your idea is safe, as Lonestar will sign a nondisclosure agreement that legally prohibits us from sharing your idea with anyone else.
The patenting process, called “prosecuting” a patent, is often a years-long back-and-forth with patent officials. Prosecuting a patent involves dozens of steps beyond the initial application, such as proving the novelty of your invention and debating legal precedent. Any small mistake can affect the commercial viability of your invention, so don’t embark on this process alone.
Find Trustworthy Help and Guidance on How To Start an Invention
The process of how to start an invention is longer and more complex than many beginning inventors expect. Refining a design, illustrating a design, patenting, manufacturing and marketing an invention are all monumental tasks. At Lonestar, we have three decades of experience helping new inventors bring their ideas into the world. Contact us for a free phone consultation to begin the process.