Unemployed? Invent Something!

In my thirty years helping startups several real-life successes started during the Great Recession or a sudden job loss.

A young house builder ran out of work during the Great Recession. Dave Rand also played the guitar. So he invented a house key that was shaped like a guitar. I said who needs one of them? The answer is now every family probably has a house key shaped like something-maybe a guitar, a pistol, a doll, a space gun.

So here is how you do it on a slim budget. First go to patents.google.com and key in a string of words describing your idea. An example is, “house key guitar”. I charge a whopping $100. to review your search and advise if you have a shot at a patent.

The next thing you do is build a basic business plan. Do you know how to find a manufacturer? I recommend various prototype shops to help you. The simpler the product the better your chances. If you have a new skyscraper idea that recycles human waste for energy-forget it.

By the time you find investors, civil engineers, zoning experts, and a test site-you will probably be 90 years old –even if I get you a patent.

On the other hand, Dave hired a Taiwan factory to make 1000 keys. He paid me $1200. to file his first design patent. He got an Ace Hardware store to hang the keys up. Bingo! Soon after the manufacturer of the key cutting machines took a license. So, between his royalties and Dave’s direct sales-he is full time employed. See guitarshapedkeys.com and info@tdrand.com. Dave has dozens of design patents.

Bison Belts started when Brian Kellegan got injured rock climbing. He invented while hospitalized! See Bisondesigns.com.

I have seen fishing gear, toys, taco holders, hand tools, cookware, locks, moving straps, belts, retail signage, and many other simple products turn profitable with small startup budgets. In conclusion, turn on the lightbulb, search yourself, pay me $100. to look at your search, prototype it, file a patent, build a marketing plan (Amazon®, Home Depot®), buy product, cross your fingers, and sell!

Remember that sidewalk chalk, dog Frisbees and cabbage patch dolls all started small. The ideal small business startup may develop a patent, a brand, over $100,000 in sales, all for an investment under $15,000. Once you have found that niche and filled it, then a larger firm such as Snap on Tools® may just take a license and buy you out! Getting five percent of wholesale sales of one million dollars turns into $50,000 a year income. This money is achievable with zero amount of your time involved cashing royalty checks. Then turn on another lightbulb, and start over. It’s all about carefully planned baby steps, and luck!


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