Get Rich Off Your Million-Dollar Idea It's not geniuses who come up with inventions. It's normal people who see a better way to do things.

By Wendy Robbins

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

A lot of people think you have to be a genius to invent a product. That's not really true. If you take a piece of string, stick it between your teeth and it's worth a billion dollars, it's dental floss.

If you take a hanger, stick it on your head and it's worth millions of dollars, it's the Tingler Head Massager. You don't even have to be a writer to have a best-seller: You can accept stories from others, call it Chicken Soup For The Soul and sell a billion books.

So let's say you have a million-dollar idea and you say, "Why didn't anyone think of that?" What do you do and where do you begin?

You want to see if it has ever been done and if you can improve upon it. There are lots and lots of TVs out there, but each one is different. Some are bigger, some are smaller, some have a remote. Some have a picture within a picture, some are color, some are art. Some are more defined high definition, some connect to the internet or access YouTube with one touch of a button. These are all different products influenced by one invention. People and companies often get patents by changing a design at least 10 percent.

Look around you right now. I'll bet you see a lot of great ideas. That is where you begin. Keep a journal of your million-dollar ideas.

You can make things that already exist bigger, smaller, automated, easier, faster, more cost-effective, greener, more systemized. It's a great place to start.

Einstein always began his great ideas by dreaming, imagining and playing like a kid. Then he knew logistically how to create whatever it was.

Eventually you will come up with a brilliant idea, or maybe you have one now. You know it's going to be the next Snuggie, the next hula hoop, the answer to alternative, affordable energy. Now what?

  1. Go online and visit, The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office website. You can see if your idea already has a patent on it. If it does, contact the inventor and see if you can get rights to market/sell it.

    A lot of times, the inventor doesn't have those skills, or he tried and gave up too fast. This is the easiest way to make money from a product or service. You can often get the rights for little to no money down and pay a royalty to the inventor.

    If you don't see your invention or something like it, know that the database is behind, but you do have a better chance at getting a patent if you want one. More on this later.
  2. Is there a market for it? Who would buy it? How big is that market? It takes the same amount of effort to have a very small market vs. a huge market. I always ask myself, Can I market to the masses? How big could this be? Is it worldwide? Can I expand the line? Can I create a collection? Is this the beginning of an empire?

    To me that is far more interesting than a niche market. You can get rich in a niche--there's no question about it. If the buyers are hungry, have disposable income, are passionate about what you are offering and there are inexpensive ways to reach them, then by all means, go for a niche.

    You can do a Google search to find out how often people are looking for what you offer. How many people have the problem you are solving? You are looking for hundreds of thousands searching for the terms that describe what you want to sell.

    I am really interested in huge markets. I like the idea of making millions of dollars, not a mere $100,000. Can you relate?
  3. Is there anything like it on the market? A lot of times, you'll see something on the market that's similar to what you have. Don't stress about it. You want to discover who your competitors are and how successful they are.

    You can always talk with competitors and either sell your idea to them or do a joint venture. That way they can use your product as an up-sell or a bonus. Or they may buy the idea from you and pay you a royalty check. When you do this, make sure you get non-disclosure and non-compete forms signed, and document any meetings you have. Make sure your partners are ethical and that you own your intellectual property.

    I believe in the Tom Sawyer school of business. Always see if you can work with an established company, buy a patent for little to no money down, create a joint venture or become an online affiliate of other products like yours so you develop a large customer base.

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