Inventors Are Defined By Their Ability to Overcome Obstacles

Serious inventors -- inventors who repeatedly come up with great inventions -- don't stop.

learn more about Stephen Key

By Stephen Key • Nov 11, 2021 Originally published Dec 12, 2021

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Inventors are good at coming up with excuses.

I wish I had more time to work on my invention.

We're all subject to the same reality, which is that there are only 24 hours in the day. Somehow, others are finding the time.

If only I had the money to fund my invention.

Well-funded inventions fail to make it to market all the time. And you don't have to start a business to commercialize an invention. You can pursue another avenue, such as licensing.

Related: Inventors, Here's How to License Your Idea and Make Money

I just need a prototype to prove that my invention works.

Unfortunately, not every idea works in the actual production setting. Today, you don't even have to build a prototype right away. You can utilize 3-D computer generated graphics to test the water first.

But the one that bothers me the most today is, I cannot commercialize my invention because our patent system sucks.

The thinking goes, Why even bother inventing when our patent system doesn't work?

This perspective is shortsighted, because there have always been obstacles for inventors! And today is no different. Overcoming obstacles is what successful inventors do every day.

Yes, we are underfunded. (Then again, crowdfunding exists to help us raise money.)

Yes, we are overworked. (Who isn't, though? Time management is an essential life skill.)

Yes, we are taken advantage of by larger, more powerful players. (It's called competition, regardless of how you choose to look at it. Workarounds and variations of successful inventions are inevitable. If your product is successful, you will be copied. This is a fact of life.)

But serious inventors — inventors who repeatedly come up with great inventions — don't stop!

They don't play the victim.

They don't wait for a level playing field, because one will never exist.

They don't wait for new legislation.

They don't point fingers.

They get to work and they take responsibility for what they can control — themselves.

Being an inventor means being courageous, tough, and determined. Inventors are defined by their ability to overcome obstacles, whether it's a lack of time, money, or both. They don't just dream; they find a path for bringing their dreams to life in spite of the odds. And trust me: The odds are always stacked against them.

Related: 7 Traits That Will Help You Overcome Adversity

You could spend your entire life waiting on the sidelines for things that are out of your control to change. But the reality is that innovation explodes even and especially during the toughest times.

There are so many reasons why there's never been a better time to be an inventor.

3-D printing has made prototyping much easier.

LinkedIn has made it easy to research and get in touch with decision makers at companies looking for ideas all over the world.

The internet has produced a staggering number of places to sell your great creations. The marketplace has never been bigger.

More and more companies are embracing open innovation because they know that if they don't innovate, they will die. These companies are licensing product ideas that are not patented, because they understand how difficult it has become to stop others from copying inventions.

For the betterment of humanity, inventors need to use all of the tools of intellectual property at their disposal, including design patents, trademarks, copyright, trade secrets, know-how, and URLs. They need to forge relationships with retailers. They need to determine the most efficient way of manufacturing their inventions. They need to develop their voices and tell their unique stories using social media. They must build a network of raging fans to help them protect their originality.

Related: How to Stand Out From the Crowd and Cultivate Passionate Fans

It's difficult to defend against larger entities with deeper pockets. There's absolutely no doubt about that. But that's always been true.

Yes, raising money is challenging. But that's always been difficult at best.

Instead of playing the victim, inventors would be well-served to think and act more like an entrepreneur. Instead of letting the system use you, figure out how to use the system to the benefit of your inventions and yourself. Be faster on your feet. Your small size makes you nimble. Fight back on your own terms — not theirs. Sell first and sell fast.

True inventors don't make excuses.

Stephen Key

Entrepreneur Leadership Network Contributor

Co-Founder of inventRight; Author of One Simple Idea Series

Stephen Key is an inventor, IP strategist, author, speaker and co-founder of inventRight, LLC, a Glenbrook, Nevada-based company that helps inventors design, patent and license their ideas for new products.

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