Top 10 Things Successful Inventors Do
Successful inventors often have their own style or way of doing things. I have listed ten things I have seen over the years that I think are common for successful inventors. See if you can learn from any, or all of them.
See things differently.
Inventors develop the knack of looking at the world and their immediate surroundings in different ways. It’s a skill that anyone can learn. I will help you with 'tips and tricks' on how to see the world differently throughout this challenge.
Have a process.
Inventors need a good process to know if they are on track. Treat it like a map of how to get from point A to point B and check-in regularly to see how far you have come, or to ask for help if you are lost. It also helps you estimate how far you are from the end.
Find good sounding boards.
I was very lucky to invent with a group of people that wanted to make things easier to use. That was our key thought. To make good things better. We were always bouncing ideas off of each other. If you work alone, find someone to listen to you talk through all your new ideas. TIP: Pick a good listener and not a talker!
This is a very powerful way for inventors to think of new ideas. Pick a subject or problem. Set a time limit — 15 minutes is good. Throw out ideas like a crazy person. Remember, it's very important not to criticize any idea. No matter how tempted you might be. Take notes in a way that everyone can see them. E.g. whiteboard, flip chart, big screen, post it notes (one per idea) spread out on a table. Maybe use the camera on your phone to capture the final picture board. That’s it. Simple huh?.
Make Rapid Prototypes.
Inventors make simple models as soon as they have a good idea. It's a great way to see if the invention works in the way you imagined. Sometimes we have to go back to our brainstorm notes and fall in love with our second best idea. Test that too. Then ask yourself, can anything in my design be combined, reduced or eliminated to make it faster, stronger, cheaper, safer, better or easier to use?
Surround themselves with curious things.
This may seem a little whacky, but it works. Inventors often surround themselves with curious objects when they are inventing. e.g. lego bricks, slinkies, silly putty, rubber bands, paper clips, magnets, Velcro, rubber balls, etc. Pick them up and play with them as you are thinking of cool ideas. Try it — it works.
Ask questions — a lot.
When I was young, my friends knew me as 'Question Boy'. Remember Kipling’s six wise men: What? where?, why?, who?, how? and when? Stay curious and don’t feel like you have to accept the first answer either.
Never be satisfied.
Inventors are rarely satisfied. They are always tinkering with their ideas. Tweak, test, probe and try to get a better result each time. Once you have your main idea, don’t get hung up on being perfect or exactly right. Focus instead on small changes that make your ideas just that little bit better every time.
Develop a thick skin.
People rarely mock inventors or their ideas; mostly because they are afraid to appear foolish. The most common reaction inventors get can be much more hurtful. People not caring at all for their idea or no reaction at all. You will be totally passionate about your invention and will want to share your idea with others — don’t’ get discouraged if they just don’t care. Such is the life of an inventor. You rock and know that you might be the only person in the world that gets the idea right now — and that’s okay.
Sell your ideas and give credit where it's due.
Inventors sell the uniqueness of their idea. They try and help people understand it. Explain the problem it solves and why it’s the best way to solve it. Be a passionate champion and create excitement. Give credit to others that helped you on your journey. It’s the right thing to do (it’s also critical in securing patents — we will come to that later). It’s perfectly okay to build on someone else’s idea, but always give them credit for the original version.