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The 5 Qualities You Need to Successfully License an Idea

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For people who yearn to profit from their creativity but don't want to start a business, licensing is a fantastic avenue. When a company licenses your idea, it takes on the heavy lifting of product development -- along with all of the associated risk.


I've been teaching entrepreneurs how to license their ideas for more than 13 years now. The burning question on everyone's mind is: What do I need to succeed?

"A patent," some would tell you. Nope. "A really novel idea," others might volunteer. That's not it either. "A killer prototype?" Wrong again. The more I think about it, the more sure I am. What you, and anyone else, needs to succeed at this game is drive. It really is that simple.

Related: 7 Qualities Successful Entrepreneurs Have in Common

From time to time I ask my students to share their success stories. How exactly did they get it done? I was absolutely blown away by a woman who related her experience to our class a few weeks ago.

In addition to being employed full time, she works a second job. She's also the mother of two young children. In a nutshell, she's extremely busy. Really, busy doesn't even really come close to it. Still, she found a way to submit her ideas to potential licensees before work and on her lunch break.

People are always complaining that they don't have enough time. If she can find time to license an idea, I think we all can.

But it was more than that. She radiated conviction. Everyone who heard her that day understood that she is on a mission. She will not be deterred. It was plain as day -- and inspiring as hell.

I hear from people who think that they just need this one thing in order to be successful. Success doesn't work like that. It's never just one thing that tips the scales, it's the sum of so many different things.

So what do I think it really takes to license an idea?

1. Dedication

Anything worthwhile takes time. If you're looking for a shortcut in life, good luck to you. You'd be much better off cultivating faith in yourself. Learn to be patient. The sad fact is that most people give up too easily.

Related: 5 Steps to Developing Your Tech Product

2. Accountability

No excuses! You and you alone are responsible for your success. Stop looking for that magical person who is going to take your idea to the top for you. There is no such person. If you want to live the licensing lifestyle, you're going to have to earn it.

3. Determination

People who have successfully licensed an idea understand that licensing is a numbers game. That's why you shouldn't let having an idea rejected bother you very much. Before most people get a yes, they endure a lot of no's. Instead of getting hung up on why something didn't work out, or how you were wronged, try to learn from your missteps.

4. A willingness to learn

To license an idea, you're going to need to study up. What's going on in the industry you want to invent for? Where is it headed? What's hot? What's not? Are there any sleeping dinosaurs? Think of yourself as a sponge! One of the biggest mistakes an inventor can make is assuming that everyone else is going to see the value in his or her idea too. Remember: there's always more to learn.

5. Focus

There will be unforeseen obstacles -- that's for sure. To keep your project on track, you'll need to create a road map. Where do you want to go? I've deviated from every road map I've ever created, but I make sure to never forget where I'm headed.

The good news is that all of these traits are available to you! Good luck, and keep on inventing.

Related: Before Spending Money on Your Great Idea Be Sure It Isn't Invented Already

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