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10 Questions for Inventors
Jeffrey Dobkin

Like it or not, at one point if you are serious about your invention - and moving it forward - you need to answer a few questions. The good part: Donít worry - you can change your answers at any time. Just rough it out for now.

1. Do you have a budget?
Nothing happens until you spend little time, money... or both. So - What is your time commitment, Hours/week? What is your $$$ investment?

2. What are your goals?
If everything goes right, this happens. What are your objectives - what do you want to accomplish? Start a business? Get rich? License your product? Just have fun (because everything doesnít have to make money!) Have a few products for you, your friends. Think about this - up front. Write it down.

3. Have you done a patent search?
I generally recommend a patent search. You can do this on line at or the Google patent site. Even if youíre not patenting your invention, itís nice to know you arenít infringing on someone elseís patent.

4. Are you going to Patent it, or not?
A patent is a $5,000 to $10,000 expense. Yes, itís that expensive. And most of the time, patent claims are narrow, indefensible, and easily circumvented. I generally DO NOT recommend a patent. For most people: a patent doesnít protect you or your idea, a patent only gives you the right to protect yourself (by suing someone.) You donít need a patent to sell anything, but it does help when licensing.

5. Is your product "Commercially Feasible"?
In other words, can you "sell it and make a profit?" Not every idea can be sold at a profit. This doesnít mean the idea isnít great, it just means it may not be a commercial success.

6. What industries will your product sell to?
Is it specific to one or two, or is it so general you canít define the markets (which makes for harder and more expensive marketing.)

7. Will it sell itself?
If you product sells through a store like Home Depot - remember it will sit on a shelf with someone elseís product on either side of it, and one on the shelf right above it, and one on the shelf right below it. Can a customer tell what your product is - and what it does - at a glance? (Because thatís all youíre getting on a store shelf.)

8. Can you make a few prototypes?
You canít show anyone your product without a prototype. There are homemade prototypes, made with available parts, working prototypes for proof of concept, professional prototypes, and manufacturing prototypes - how it will be made in volume. You should have one or more of any of these.

9. What is your own field of expertise?
Youíve got to know your own strengths and weaknesses. Now you know what you can do, and now you know where you need to go for help.

10. What are your next 10 steps?
Yes, in order. Because if you donít know them, what are you going to do?

About the Author:
Jeff Dobkin Jeffrey has written 5 books including How To Market a Product for Under $500, Uncommon Marketing Techniues, Direct Marketing Strategies, and Successful Low Cost Marketing Methods. To order call 800-234-IDEA. Questions? 610-642-1000 rings on his desk. Write to him at the Danielle Adams Publishing Company, Box 100, Merion Station PA 19066. Visit FREE with any order: Jeff's articles "9 Reasons to Send a Cover Letter with your Press Release" and 3 other helpful articles written specifically for inventors. Just mention where you saw this article.
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