Yesterday while fishing, I realized that inventing products for different industries is a lot like fishing. I grew up fishing and I’ve always enjoyed watching a largemouth bass jump out of the water after my popper. Timing is everything and you have to hook ’em at just the right moment or you’ll lose the fish. The largemouth bass pictured below put up a really good fight and even broke water several times!
So, how is inventing for industry similar to fishing you may be wondering? Let me explain.
1. You need to get to know each industry like it’s a body of water. Whether it’s an ocean, river, lake, or pond, each body of water is unique. To hook a big one, you have to understand what’s in that body of water, what it is you’re going for, and how to catch it — the lures or bait you’ll use.
2. The more you fish a certain body of water or invent for a certain industry, the more you get to know it. You know where the fish tend to be and at what time. You learn where the seaweed is that tends to snag your hook, so you can avoid it.
Every summer that I return to Rock Lake, I know where and when to fish. Sometimes things change a bit from season to season, but for the most part, I know the lake and I know how to fish it. When you stick to inventing within a couple of industries, you allow yourself to get to know people and build relationships with them. Over time and with practice, you gain insights and begin to observe industry trends.
3. Preparation is key when fishing somewhere you’ve never been and inventing for a new industry. If you are fishing somewhere where you’ve never been before, it’s best to do some research on the area first, ask questions, go with a friend, or even hire a skilled guide to accompany you. Similarly, if you’re venturing into a new industry, first learn about the industry. Listen to podcasts and webinars. Read about the companies. See what’s trending and ask questions to get information, specifics, and feedback.
4. Keep casting and keep inventing! Sometimes you are out all day and get skunked, while other times you catch a beauty and a keeper on your second cast.Is it skill? Luck? Determination? Persistence? Positivity? Maybe a combination? I believe you get back what you put in, yet sometimes your beautiful and shiny lure just doesn’t look appetizing or interesting to any of the fish. This doesn’t make them bad fish — they’re just not interested in what you are offering for dinner tonight! Try again tomorrow and next season.
Similarly, you might land a licensing agreement quickly for one product and then spend years working on another. Know when to change “lures” and work on a new project to get back in the game.
5. You need to use the right lure or bait for the fish you want to catch. If I want to catch a bass, I am most likely going to use a popper or twister tail. If I am fishing for a bluegill, I might just use a worm. Sometimes other fish will bite your bait, but the point is — you know what you’re going for.
When you are inventing and pitching your inventions, get to know the companies you want to approach and what they are looking for, as well as how to present to them. It will make all the difference.
6. Once you hook ’em, you still have to reel them in! Sometimes it’s nice and easy; other times it can be a bit more difficult. Maybe they start swimming the opposite way or something happens to your reel. Be sure to have a buddy or a coach there with a net to help you bring that big one up onto the pier or into the boat.
With inventing, it’s much the same way. Having a coach and mentor is invaluable. I don’t recommend going at it completely solo.
7. Celebrate your big win! Whether you catch and release or cook up a good ol’ fish fry is up to you, but it’s time to celebrate!
Happy summer fishing to all my inventor friends!
Tell me, can you think of some other ways that inventing for different industries is like fishing?
Be sure to share your big fish inventing wins with us so we can help you celebrate!
Coach April Mitchell, inventor of the Right Height Adjustable Over the Door Hook