Will a company pay for your product ideas?

Tips from the trenches . The short answer is, it could happen… but not without some effort and strategic planning on your part. Over the years, I have met creative individuals who propose to “share the wealth” if someone else does “the work” to develop their new ideas. Anyone who is familiar with what’s involved in “the work” will not be surprised to hear that these folks get few, if any offers. Others will introduce themselves as “idea people” who just want to sell their creative ideas to companies and be paid for them. In these cases, I usually ask how much development has been done and whether they’ve searched for prospect companies. More often than not, the answers are “none,” “no,” and if a company is mentioned, it is usually the giant in the category. While these may sound like examples of dreamers rather than doers, there is merit to the concept of getting ideas in front of companies sooner rather than later, especially when projects require significant resources to complete. For those who are willing to get down to business, this could be a viable option. Consider the following points:

Take your idea seriously. We can certainly take credit for our ideas, but there is a difference between “taking credit” and an expectation of “getting paid” for them. The bottom line is that in the commercial world, establishing property rights is required, and that includes some evidence such as trade secrets, formulas, know-how, patents, drawings, samples or the like. Short of having these, there are other practical steps you can take. For starters, document the idea and define it – how it works, what it does, and why it is better than whatever else is currently on the market. The challenge will then be to convince a company decision maker that your claim of ownership has legitimacy. Be prepared to make this case before approaching any company.

Find the right prospect. Companies are not waiting for good ideas to drop on their doorsteps. As a matter of fact, they may not even entertain ideas from outside their four walls. Many have employees whose job description includes keeping the pipelines full of new products. Also, many large companies today prefer to acquire rather than innovate. For them, it’s easier to buy a product or an established brand that is already making money rather than take a chance on developing and launching an unproven concept. They do this because they want to grow quickly with little risk and they have deep pockets. Rather than target these companies, search for smaller, more accessible and preferably local prospects that are open to new and creative ideas to increase market share.

Get creative. While companies may not be interested in buying “out” your idea, they may be willing to buy “into” it if you find the right one and come up with a proposal that works for everyone. What about offering to develop it with them or on their behalf in exchange for some royalty and retainer or joint partnership? You get to see your idea come to fruition, have additional resources at your disposal, and can make money for the company and yourself.

Think about it. You have a creative idea and it has yet to be developed. Ask yourself: what will it take to get this product commercialized? And, don’t wait for luck; make your own breaks.

© 2013, Elizabeth Pierotti

The Inventing Life





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