In a time as tech-forward and fast-moving as now, it can be tough as an inventor to feel that your creations are unique and fulfill a need in the current market. It’s important that, despite this feeling, you continue to find the motivation to stay on the cutting edge of new technologies and other creative fields. Here are a few books to help you do just that.
What are some of the best books for inventors? The five best books on inventions and for inventors are:
- One Simple Idea by Stephen Key
- ACT Now! by Kevin Harrington
- The Inventor’s Bible by Ronald Louis Docie, Sr.
- How to License Your Million Dollar Idea by Harvey Reese
- Profit From Your Idea by Richard Stim
The five books featured in this list provide a well-rounded, comprehensive set of tools on how to market your inventions, protecting your intellectual property, learning legal jargon for this protection, and overall developing the confidence you need to commercially succeed as an inventor. Even for those hobbyists who may not want to make it big – there is still a lot you can learn from these works.
Why Do We Need Books on Inventions to Begin With?
A study on the motivations of inventors was conducted in Japan in 2010 by researchers, Dr. Hideo Own and Dr. Sadao Nagaoka. Of course, informally, we know that inventors and many other types of creative people do what they do simply because they love it. They enjoy it. The creative process is invigorating, challenging, and, for some, can even be profitable.
In 2019, humanity is seeing new opportunities arise every day in the form of an entrepreneurial profession and self-starting remote work. The significance of this is that, with this newfound flexibility, people have the chance to make a living off of what they truly love to do. No more are we restricted to working a 9-to-5 simply because we have to. The weight is lifted.
This flexibility is not just about money or the vain superficiality that people understand by the phrase “making a living.” No, it is about taking the reins of your professional life and making it what you truly desire. It is about thriving. Own’s and Nagaoka’s research found that the intrinsic motives of inventors were a sense of being drawn to science and innovation and an attraction to challenge.
Pairing these intrinsic motivations with the structural, tried-and-true guidance of the following works will ensure that your path in the realm of innovation will be fruitful and secure. Written by world-renowned inventors and businessmen, the following books are sure to help you excel among your peers as an inventor.
1. One Simple Idea by Stephen Key
Stephen Key has been a proud inventor for over 30 years. Some of the high-profile items in his track record include Michael Jordan’s WallBall®, the Spinformation® rotating label, and HotPicks® guitar picks. In One Simple Idea, Key aims to share the motivation and trade secrets that allow him to succeed as greatly as he has so far.
His success is shown not only in his inventions but in his student population as well. Best-selling author Tim Ferriss is one of these students – you may be familiar with some of his titles, Tribe of Mentors, Tools of Titans, and The 4-Hour Chef. Based on Key’s and Ferriss’ accomplished works alone, it is clear that Stephen Key has built an empire centered on self-propulsion and a driven entrepreneurial spirit.
Key shares some essential advice to succeeding as an inventor with the consideration that such a profession can easily burn people out, especially if they’re not seeing the rate of success they’re aspiring to. That advice includes:
- Safeguarding your ideas without expending excessive amounts of money and time.
- Becoming your own boss without having to formally open a business.
- See your product introduced to the market without having to pay expenses and fees upfront.
- Earn substantial income without having to quit your day job.
One Simple Idea brings to light the fact that the assumption that innovative ideas must emerge from within large corporations is now shattered. Key notes that these same corporations and other institutions have recognized the value of entrepreneurs so well that it has grown into a $500 billion industry. This book has earned 3.94 out of 5 stars on GoodReads, and is the key to growing your career as an inventor.
Protecting Your Ideas as an Inventor
The protection of intellectual property is central to all businesses and markets, invention or not. Unfortunately, not everyone has the integrity to honor others’ IP, so it can be scary – especially as a new inventor – to venture out into the business realm and not knowing who to trust and how to expand on your ideas without compromising the security of your project.
Trusting the wrong company or individual with your product, or even trusting a respectable company too early on can do a great deal of damage to your progress as an inventor, and in the worst-case scenarios, it can even result in your invention being robbed from you.
In the United States, we are fortunate to be protected by the Uniform Trade Secrets Act. The U.S. is a part of the World Trade Organization (WTO) and a party in the Agreement on Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual-Property Rights (TRIPS) and so is obligated to provide protection for information that is secret and, specifically, information that is commercially valued because of its secrecy.
Disputes under this law can be taken up in state or federal courts. Although some state laws differ, there are strong similarities among them all due to them all being rooted in the Uniform Trade Secrets Act. These laws protect trade secrets by requiring parties that have misappropriated a trade secret to take steps to maintain its secrecy and also by requiring royalty payments to the rightful owner.
The Uniform Trade Secrets Act
The Uniform Trade Secrets Act was strengthened by the Defend Trade Secrets Act of 2016, the text of which is as follows:
- “An owner of a trade secret that is misappropriated may bring a civil action under this subsection if the trade secret is related to a product or service used in, or intended for use in, interstate or foreign commerce… Based on an affidavit or verified complaint satisfying the requirements of this paragraph, the court may, upon ex parte application but only in extraordinary circumstances, issue an order providing for the seizure of property necessary to prevent the propagation or dissemination of the trade secret that is the subject of the action.”
Knowing how to protect your inventions before needing to protect your inventions can save you significant amounts of time, money, and worry in the long run. This matter may not seem so serious to those who invent as a hobby, but don’t wait until you see your IP being sold by another person on the television or elsewhere.
Aspiring business people and hobbyists are equally encouraged to pick up One Simple Idea today!
2. ACT Now! How I Turn Ideas Into Million-Dollar Products by Kevin Harrington
Kevin Harrington is the creator of one of the most dynamic sales techniques invented in the 80s and still very active in practice today: the infomercial. That’s right! Harrington was the one who brought the “traveling salesman” technique to the small screen in the late 1980s, and with this, has turned thousands of products into household names.
The Ginsu Knife, Great Wok of China, Food Saver, and Tony Little’s Ab Isolator are some common examples of items sold via infomercials. Harrington’s book is a great reminder that invention is not exclusive to tangible products. Your innovative ideas can be new methods by which people create, communicate, sell, travel, and more.
In ACT Now! Harrington discusses how he has brought about dynamic change in the sales industry by introducing new business methods and marketing tactics by refusing to second guess himself, trusting his intuition, and choosing to act on his ideas as soon as possible.
ACT Now! has earned 3.95 out of 5 stars on GoodReads and is a great read for those who specialize in the intangible creative realm.
3. The Inventor’s Bible 4th Edition: How to Market and License Your Brilliant Ideas by Ronald Louis Docie, Sr.
Ronald L. Docie, Sr. is known for inventing the blind spot mirror at age 20, inspired when he nearly had an accident on the highway in 1975. He spent three full years creating a business plan to ultimately introduce the Docie Wedge Blindspot Mirror in stores such as Kmart, Walmart, countless auto shops. He’s led the way for countless start-ups around the country and continues to do so with this literary work.
The Inventor’s Bible offers more of a technical guide to inventing on how to develop a realistic plan and business structure to catapult your business. This book is designed for inventors anywhere on the spectrum, from beginners to the most experienced entrepreneurs, teaching you how to better know your market and grow a professional network.
With The Inventor’s Bible, you will begin to learn how to approach the logistics of introducing your inventions to the market: You will learn how to value your creations, how to develop a marketing plan, and how to be smart about building long-lasting business relationships without risking the integrity of your innovations and professional security.
This work covers topics from crowdfunding to U.S. Patent Laws, to marketing strategy and more. No matter where you are in your journey as an inventor, you will do well to pick up a copy of this book. It is a staple to those who intend to expand the reach of their inventions and potentially make a living from their works. This book received a 3.57 out of 5 on GoodReads.
Having Confidence in the Quality of Your Invention
The key to successful marketing is knowing the worth and quality of your work. No one is going to believe your work is worth investing in if you don’t believe it yourself! Excessive modesty to the point of selling yourself short is one of the first hurdles to get over if you intend to build a viable business from your inventions.
Brett Stern, author of Inventors at Work and an industrial designer, put together a collection of interviews with inventors of many famous products and technologies distributed throughout the world and even those that have completely changed our way of life. Some of these people were the creators of the LeathermanTM multitool and RAM!
Stern notes that there is always the notion of someone having created a similar product to yours beforehand, or a product that paved the way for yours. Remind yourself that there is no shame in this. There are more than 7 billion people on this earth. Odds are, you’re going to have the same idea as one of them! The difference lies in your motivation to pursue your invention into a business venture.
On a similar note as Kevin Harrington’s ACT Now! – imagine if one of those inventors did not take the leap of faith into fully investing in their inventions? We would not have some of the staple tools that we have today, and no one would know their names. Who cares if someone has had the same idea? Get on it, and put some action behind your invention – you may just change the world!
4. How to License Your Million Dollar Idea: Everything You Need to Know to Turn a Simple Idea Into a Million Dollar Payday by Harvey Reese
This is another book that is essential to those who aspire to grow their inventions into a full-fledged business. How to License Your Million Dollar Idea provides clear, readily-applicable guidance on the process of converting your idea into a viable startup with the right tools in marketing, communication, and the patenting process.
Reese frames the book in a way that “separates” those who earn money from building on their idea versus those who don’t by highlighting the key to maintaining a self-starter attitude in the challenges of finance, policy, and the market. Reese is a highly experienced consultant and licensing agent, so he has seen his fair share of what works in the industry and what doesn’t.
You can trust that his takes on what manufacturers are willing to invest in, the most reliable licensing ventures, the best negotiating techniques, and more, will get you to exactly where you need to be in your business and with your inventions. Not only this, but you can accomplish all of this without compromising the integrity or security of your ideas and free of financial risk.
This work has received a 3.83 out of 5 stars on GoodReads and is available and audiobook form as well – go ahead and give it a listen while you work on your next big idea!
5. Profit From Your Idea: How to Make Smart Licensing Decisions by Richard Stim
This must-have should go into your toolbox right away, as Richard Stim takes the process of building a business from another perspective in Profit From Your Idea. In this book, Stim highlights the need for inventors’ clarity in regards to the processes of finding the perfect company to partner with and how to protect your ideas and protects from a legal standpoint.
Many of us, even those of us who may be well-versed in the Dos and Don’ts of the business and marketing realm, are at a loss when it comes to legal matters and fine print. Stim has taken up the slack for us by providing excellent guidance on how to draft legal agreements that work for both you and the company or individual you aim to collaborate with while being in the best interest of your innovations.
Stim provides both practical marketing advice, and goes further not to just advise how to construct the aforementioned legal agreements, but also teaching a bit legal jargon along the way. He explains warranties, indemnity, the reservation of rights, and more. With this book, you are sure to remain secure in your journey to growing your business in invention.
In this day in age, people find countless ways to leach each other’s information, be it through email scams, social media hacks, or many other strategies we may not yet know about. Protecting your inventions is essential to pursuing a full-fledged career in this industry, and should be taken seriously by even those who want to remain a hobbyist. This book has earned a 4 out of 5-star review on GoodReads.
Your Toolkit for Success
All of these books together provide a comprehensive set of guidance on how to navigate the business and marketing realm for expanding and monetizing your inventions. Even if you don’t want to grow into some large corporation, these books are still important to have, because the protection of IP is central to all inventors, professional or hobbyists.
These works will help you in not only the business realm but also in enhancing your confidence in what you do – you must learn to know the worth of your work for it to change the lives of others. Having the confidence to know that your invention is worthwhile and has the potential to make waves in the industry is key to acquiring a secure foothold in your path to becoming a full-fledged entrepreneur.