How to Invent Something in 15 steps

How to bring an invention to market

If you have an idea for an Invention and don’t know where to start, you are not alone. Where to start if you want to learn how to invent something is the most common question new inventors have. So, where do you start?


If you ask people where they think a first time inventor should start, you will get many different answers. Answers will mostly depend on how much experience they have themselves bringing a product to market.

The problem is, getting this wrong can easily put you on a trajectory that can turn a great ideas into a great way to lose money.

This post will outline the steps that successful inventors use and will give you a great idea of how to invent something.

#1 Learn the process

The first thing you should do once you have an invention idea,is to first learn a little bit about every step in the idea-to-market process. Learn what exactly you would be getting yourself into if you were to start down this journey. You essentially have to learn how to bring an invention to market. 

Where exactly you start is important, but knowing what steps your future self is going to have to deal with is even more important.

If you don’t know where you are going and you just start walking, you could easily be going in the wrong direction. Making things harder on yourself once you do learn how to Invent something. By understanding a little about each step in the process, you can decide what path might be right for you.

If you do this and find that you aren’t sure you have it in you to perform all of those steps, not starting down this journey in the first place might be the best decision you have ever made. Or, you might decide that licensing your idea instead of venturing might be the best path for you.

Too many people jump in and spend a lot of money, only to find out the hard way that this business isn’t what they thought it was. Wasting every minute and every dime they ever invested into it.

Pro tip: Unless you are learning about that process from someone who has successfully navigated it before, you are learning from the wrong person.

Simply by reading this article, you are taking a great step towards learning the process and increasing your chance of success. At any time, you can check out our Directory of Inventor Friendly Service Providers to help you with any step you need.

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#2 Record your progress:

The process then continues with recording your initial idea so that it’s not stuck in your head. You can use our completely free cloud based Inventor’s Journal to help you document and push your idea through the correct process. An idea stuck in your head is going to go nowhere, period.

By recording your progress in an Inventor’s Journal, you are converting your efforts into something tangible. The Journal becomes the asset that is your idea.

Your Journal should start by identifying the problem your idea solves and any important notes about how and why you came up with your idea. Also understand that this step and any other, are meant to be updated over time as you learn more. If for instance you later learn of another use for your invention, circle back and add it here. This Journal is meant to grow in value over time, the closer you get your idea to market.


#3 Research your idea:

You have to understand that the most successful inventions are solutions to a problem. Making sure you understand the problem from the customers perspective, not your own, is absolutely critical. This involves doing a fair amount of research into the problem and the existing solutions. This includes a lot of internet searches and even customer interviews.

This stage is meant more to understand the problem and the market for a solution than it is meant to be about your particular solution.

So don’t worry about patent searches or really trying to learn if your particular solution exists or not yet. It’s all about better understanding the problem and any existing solutions.


#4 Non-Disclosure Agreement:

Though you don’t always actually need a Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA), if you are going to use one, now is the time to consider it. This is because the next steps you are going to have to start disclosing your idea to a handful of key people. If you need help writing one, you can find a contract attorney in our Directory.

Though now is not the time to consider patenting your idea, now is the time to learn how you can and cannot disclose your idea to others and not jeopardize and future potential patent you might seek.


#5 Market Validation:

The Validation step is arguably the secret sauce of inventing, or really executing any business idea for that matter. If someone were to tell you that there was a way to prove reasonably accurately if any business idea was a good one or not before you even launched the business, would you believe them? Well, you can and it’s called Validation. 

Validating your idea before you build it is easily the most emphasized piece of advice given by most credible business startup resources in the modern era. This is where you talk to your target market about your specific solution to validate that there is a market for your idea.

This is hands down the most important step of them all, but it’s unfortunately the least understood and most performed wrong. Inventor’s getting this step wrong is the leading cause of not only their failure, but also why they lose so much money in that failure. If you were to become an expert in any step in the process, Validation should be it.

The two best books to lead you down the right path are “The Mom Test” and “The Lean Startup“. But you can find countless resources for free on Youtube about Validation and process.

In order to validate the idea, it is very common to also need a prototype or the actual design. But that is not always the case, so this step is considered before the design step.


#6 Invention Design:

Once you have properly validated your idea, now comes the Design. This step is after Validation because it is important that you design what your target customer actually wants vs what you think they want. Though you might want to put some design or prototype work into your idea before you Validate, you certainly don’t want to fully develop your idea first. That is why the Design step is considered after Validation.

The Design step often starts with building a prototype,  which you can find a Prototype builder in the Directory. Or learn how to build a prototype yourself.

You then will want your design modeled in CAD, in which you can find an Industrial Designer in our Directory.

This is also the time you want to make sure your design complies with any regulatory requirements and is otherwise something you will be able to legally sell once it is a product. Of course you should have been thinking about this earlier, but now is when you confirm it.

#7 Consider a Patent:

Now is when you should start considering Intellectual Property protection. This isn’t to say getting a patent is by default the right move. Just that if you are going to get one, now is when you would start looking into it. That doesn’t mean now is the time to actually file even if you expect to get a patent. Now is just the time to start considering it if you have something actually worth protecting.

This is purposefully after both the Validation and Design steps because you have to know specifically what it is you would patent before you go through the trouble. Those steps for one reason or another, often force you to design yourself right out from under any early patent you file. If you are in the early stages of your idea, chances are by the time you get to this stage, your idea will have changed.

This step is where you do your patentability check and start considering if you have something actually worth patenting. When you do file, consider starting with a well written and well timed Provisional patent to give yourself enough time to actually start getting some sales. The best use of a patent is when you get one to protect actual sales vs protect an idea. So actually filing a patent is likely in a much later step that you will have to decide at the time.

You can learn more about the right patent strategy in our blogs. If you need help from a professional, you can find a Patent Attorney in our Directory.

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#8 Write a Business plan:

Your specific plan to reach the market should be a work in progress from the start. But now is when you should really be getting it on paper and deciding on the details of your specific strategy. This can be an incredibly important step because how exactly you achieve distribution can mean the difference between a business that struggles to get sales, and a business that scales beyond your wildest expectations. If you have never written a Business Plan before, it might be a good idea to work with a Business Plan Writer in our Directory.


This also often includes your actual Business formation, though some people wait until after they start generating revenue to form the actual business. This depends on your preference and the business you design around your idea. Sometimes if you have partners or investors, that sort of forces your hand so that you can legally divide shares. If you need help, you can hire someone to help you form your Business Entity in our Directory.


#9 Create a Brand:

The importance of building a brand depends on the product and the customers you are targeting. Some commercial inventions, the brand isn’t as important due to who the target customer is. But for consumer products, branding can be everything. Here is where you decide what your brand will look like and then how you will market that brand and your product. Notice that this is the stage that you stop talking about it as your invention and start referring to it as a product. People don’t buy Inventions, they buy Products. Here is where you start talking the customer’s language.

This stage includes everything from the fonts on your packaging to the color and feel of your website. Everything that includes what the customer sees and what you want them to feel when they see your brand.

It’s important to not however, you don’t necessarily have to have a solid brand from the start. This is absolutely something you can build on over time. You should be able to sell the first units of your product without quality branding. In other words, the brand can’t be why customers buy your product, it needs to stand on its own to have any chance as a successful product.


#10 Invention Funding:

Though you should have been thinking about where you are going to get the funding for all of this from the moment you looked at the overview of the process, now is the time you might consider getting serious about it.

These next steps normally start requiring some serious funds to buy and maintain inventory. You need to prepare for that so you don’t have to learn the hard way why even businesses with great sales still often fail.

Luckily you did a superb job of Validating your idea and you have been recording your progress on your InventorGenie account all along. Both of which are the key to attracting investment. Investors don’t invest in ideas, they invest in Validated products in the hands of people who have a high chance of turning that into profit. Your Inventor’s Journal is how you prove to investors that you are the right person for the job.


#11 Find a Supplier:

Now is the time to pay for molds and buy inventory. Though it is very possible you have been engaged in this step since the Design step, now is when you ultimately have to decide on a supplier and pull the trigger. This involves learning how to find the right supplier, vetting them and how to deal with them.

The supply chain is its own ecosystem that requires special considerations. There are a lot of ways for this step to go wrong and cost you a significant amount of money. If you have never purchased bulk inventory before, especially if you are purchasing from overseas, it might be a good idea to enlist a Sourcing Agent in our Directory.

The last thing you want to do is pay $20,000 for inventory, only to find out a simple miscommunication leaves you with $20,000 in inventory you can’t sell. Oftentimes Sourcing Agents can get you a lower cost than you could have yourself, more than offsetting any fee they charge.


#12 Logistics:

Once you have ordered your inventory, you need to determine how to get it to your door. These costs shouldn’t be a surprise as the cost estimates should be in your business plan. But understanding how freight forwarding works and potentially customs clearance is critical to actually getting your inventory. This can include third party warehousing or literally your garage.

Much like the Supplier step, this step also has a lot of potential of ruining your order completely. It’s not uncommon for inexperienced buyers to do something wrong and their entire shipment get stuck in customs. Sometimes with zero hope for resolve. Logistics is one of those steps that it’s not usually a good idea to handle without a Freight Forwarder or Customs Broker.


#13 Sell your product:

You need to manage your sales channels and distribution as if you only make money if you sell a large amount of product. Because that is exactly how it works. 

In any business, all that ultimately matters is selling whatever it is you sell. You need to manage all of your distribution channels effectively to maintain the business and allow for growth. This can mean both selling directly to the end user or through distributors. Either way, you need a solid sales funnel and strategy. A lot of new inventors mistakenly think their product will sell itself. It will not. It just doesn’t work that way. Especially in the beginning, you need to really work hard for every sale.

This is one area that it makes a lot of sense to start reading books on sales. Learn how best to approach each different type of customer, and how to close.


#14 Licensing:

Some people decide early on not to venture and go for the licensing route from the start. And that is sometimes a good option. However, nothing peeks a company’s interest like a validated product with proven demand and existing sales. It is a common strategy for inventors to venture just enough to prove the product, only to then license it to a bigger company. There are pros and cons to this strategy that you can really decide at any time. Once you have those proven sales is a great time to decide.

Otherwise, there are a lot of free content on Youtube and otherwise Licensing Consultants in our Directory that you can hire for help.


#15 Exit Strategy:

Rather than licensing their proven product to a different company, some inventors choose to sell the business around their product outright. For this, proven sales are key to the valuation you might get. If you don’t have sales, you don’t have a sellable business. But if you do have sales, just like any other business, it might be worth something as a business that you can sell off completely.



These steps are meant to be guidelines, not etched in stone. Though there is no one-size-fits-all strategy, the overall steps are relatively the same from idea to idea. But what is most important is that you understand the whole process from the start so that you can properly prepare for each step ahead of time and then effectively execute when the time comes. That is why it’s important to learn how to Invent something from people who know what they are doing.

For more information, we strongly suggest you start with our free Inventor’s Journal. Then we also suggest you work with an Invention Consultant who can help guide you through these steps. It always helps to have someone who understands the process who can cater a strategy to your specific invention idea.



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