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Anyone can be innovative if they put their mind to it. It may not happen overnight, but with practice, anyone can become an inventor—and a good one too! Every industry has problems and could use a little innovation. If you can come up with a solution for those problems and get a patent on your idea, you may be the one to capitalize on it. If you are interested in that capitalization, you’ll need to recognize the value of your ideas.
Below are some pointers on being innovative:
Evaluate what you are already doing. For example, many engineers tend to solve one problem and then move to the next without considering whether or not any of their solutions could be patented. The engineer ought to evaluate his work, identify the novel portion(s) of his ideas, and then work on getting patents for those ideas. In the United States, patents may be obtained in almost anything—business, software, medicine, engineering, etc. You may already be sitting on a gold mine and not know it.
Look for solutions. Generally, your creative solutions to problems encountered at home, work, or anywhere else are possible candidates for patents. Problems for you are probably problems for others who may be willing to pay you for your solution. You don’t have to have a Ph.D. or even be a high school graduate to find valuable solutions. In fact, formal education may not even foster the creativity required to be an inventor.
Think outside the box. Too often we look to solve problems by making small improvements to machines or methods that are convenient to an industry’s already established infrastructure. Often, the best solutions are revolutionary, which tend to be resisted at first, but praised later.
Cross-breed industries. If you are an expert in road construction, some of your “tricks-of-the-trade” may be valuable in residential construction, farming, or landscaping. These tricks may be used as a spring board and lead to valuable ideas.
Look for a lack of innovation. There are currently industries, even in the United States, that haven’t advanced technologically for fifty years or more. Chances are that these industries could be more efficient. Simple innovations to reduce time or save on material costs could add up to big savings for the industry and, if patented, lots of money in your pocket.
Don’t get discouraged. Many people won’t recognize a good idea at first and may discourage you from filing a patent. Industry leaders may need to be shown how your invention will benefit them before they recognize an ideas value. In fact, some businesses may resist an idea if they think it will reduce their profit. For example, if Company A charges for a service by the hour and your invention cuts the time to perform the service in half, Company A may not be too excited about your idea and may even fight against its acceptance in the industry.
Protect your idea. If you are going to make any money off of your invention, you will most likely need to file a patent application.
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