I believe anyone can license an idea!
Not only do I believe it, I know it! I see ideas get licensed every single week. From the wacky novelty products to ideas that can change the world!
There is absolutely no reason why your creativity has to stay in your head.
Companies are looking for ideas. It’s a simple as that!
The traditional model of bringing a product market includes raising money, writing a business plan, figuring out manufacturing, creating a package, finding a distributor or selling the product yourself, fulfilling orders (from your garage?). It takes time and money and frankly, most of us don't have the skills required to do all of those things! I don't, that's for sure.
But there is an alternative and it’s extremely simple - you “rent” your ideas to companies in exchange for payments (royalties). It’s called licensing.
Now there are some folks who want to make licensing complicated. It's not! Anyone that’s making it sound complicated is probably a service provider that wants to make money off of your fears to lack of knowledge about licensing.
If you are considering licensing your idea and are just getting started, here are some things to watch out for.
1. Don’t be guided by fear, particularly the fear that someone’s going to steal your idea.
You’re going to hear this from everyone. From legal professionals (patent attorneys are notorious for this - read my latest article on Frobes), companies selling services, and even your friends (who probably have no experience whatsoever). Watching Shark Tank on Friday nights can create fear. There are simple ways and inexpensive ways to protect your ideas while you see if it's possible to license it.
2. Do not buy into hope.
No one is going to do the work for you. Lots of companies will promise to do everything for you because you have a great idea. Look at their track record. Always Google the company or individual followed by the words "complaints or lawsuits". Chances are, you will find some very, very unhappy people. Why would you choose to work with someone with a bad track record? Don't!
3. Contests and TV shows are not the way.
Do not buy into it! Television shows are designed to make money for studios and networks. How do they do that? They sell advertising. Advertisers buy time on shows that have high ratings. High ratings often come from dramatic (or comedic) content. Shark Tank sells commercials. Statistically your chances of success are extremely low. I'm not saying don't give it a try - I'm just saying not to put all your eggs in that basket.
4. Don’t underestimate yourself.
You are an expert you just don’t know it. You know what you like and you know what you dislike. Ideas come from people just like you and me every single day because we encounter problems and come up with clever solutions. You do not need to be a professional product designer (although they have great ideas too) - you just need to do some work!
5. Companies do not care what you’ve done in the past. They only care about what you show them today.
Maybe you've had a great job but lost it. Maybe you are going through some personal difficulties. The companies that you submit your products to don't know that, and they certainly don't care - meaning they will view you though the eyes of your product not your past. Use that opportunity to get a fresh start! Use that opportunity to create a new income stream for yourself! Use that opportunity to get positive feedback!
6. Realize you’re going to be in the rejection game.
Put on a hardhat, grow thick skin. Just because you have an idea doesn't mean it's a good one. This is not easy to do. You might get a lot of "no's" before you get a "yes". You might not ever get a "yes" with one idea, and the next idea might get 5 "yes's". But you can do this. Be a collector of "No" - which means you are in the game! And somewhere along the way there might be a yes. You might have to submit your idea to 30 companies. 30! It's a number's game.
7. Always increase your chances of success by coming up with lots of ideas.
Spend very little money on those ideas, and submit each one to as many companies as you can.
8. In my opinion, you should get some great advice and mentoring.
Every successful professional sports team has a game plan and a coach. Every successful entrepreneur has had a mentor. Every successful professional person has gone to school to learn a trade or skill.
It's quite likely that you have not been taught or learned how to license an idea in your life (yet). Perhaps you have been working on the same idea for 10 years. Change what you are doing! It's not working!
9. It's not a money problem, it’s an education problem! (Check out One Simple Idea to learn about licensing.)
Everyone thinks it’s a money problem - if you just had the money for a patent, it would work. If you just had the money to buy some inventory I could be in business. That's not it! Find a coach or mentor and invest in yourself.
I do believe anyone can do this. But the facts are the facts. It takes time, dedication, education, and a thick skin!!!