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Practicing Invention [Entrepreneurship
Posted on December 31, 2020 @ 12:53:00 PM by Paul Meagher

Today I was testing a landscaping device I developed to see if it actually will perform a useful landscaping function. It performed better than I had anticipated because I didn't really appreciate how it worked until I tested it on a challenging landscaping task. Eventually I broke the prototype but way it broke provided useful information for designing the next iteration which will include stronger structural components. I did achieve a proof of concept that my invention is a useful landscaping tool and probably will work better with some additional tweaks.

There are stories of people who are very inventive in developing new devices to solve their own problems. There is quite a bit of intellectual enjoyment to be had creating new physical or digital tools to scratch your own itch. Engaging in invention does not need more justification than that it can be fun and intellectually challenging. This is the first year I developed two devices that I considered inventions (i.e., some aspect of it was new and significant compared to what came before) and in both cases I felt alot of satisfaction in making something that solved a particular problem I designed a prototype to solve. I think getting good at inventing requires practice like any other skill. Practice is probably not quite the right word as you are not doing something repetitive when you engage in invention, rather you are specifically allocating a certain amount of time to the task of inventing something new by sourcing materials and solving the problems that need to be solved to come up with an initial prototype. Then you test it, find out what the weaknesses and strengths of your design are, and refine it again, possibly at more cost if you decide you want to continue improving the design in significant ways.

There are a bunch of additional steps involved in getting a physical invention to market about which I am fairly ignorant, however, all these steps are another aspect of invention that you can practice on to become a better inventor. The design of your invention might have to change in certain ways to make it easier to manufacturer or to bring the overall cost of the materials down. Maybe you need to partner with another entrepreneur with some of the skills and know how you require to take it to the next level. Maybe you need to learn a Computer Assisted Design (CAD) program to communicate your design requirements precisely. Maybe you need to learn how to do a patent search, do an analysis of potential competitors, and a develop a plan for how to enter the marketplace in a small way to test the market along with a plan for how you might scale if things start to take off. These are all arguably skills that might be useful for inventors to have it they want to take their inventions beyond the garage and into the marketplace.

Sometimes the joy of inventing is in your belief that you have not just scratched your own itch with your invention, but the itch of a large and potentially lucrative market. That realization might motivate you to pursue the long game of invention where you start to invest more resources and time into making a significantly improved prototype and acquiring other skills necessary to bringing an invention into the market.

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