Laugh all you want at those crazy TV commercials touting the latest and greatest gadgets, but the As Seen on TV industry is a $350+ billion market.
For more than 30 years, Trevose, Pennsylvania, marketer Bill McAlister, CEO of Top Dog Direct, has been laughing all the way to the bank with some of the most popular As Seen on TV creations, including Mighty Putty, BeActive Brace, Spray Perfect, Futzuki, Stream Clean, Urine Gone and Sobokawa Cloud Pillow. Top Dog Direct even went to the Mojave Desert to pull a plane using a Mighty Putty product.
A patent can be a tricky thing as it is. It can be a challenge to determine if you need a patent, but even more so problematic as you look to decide what type of patent you need. For many entrepreneurs, the realization is that they need either a provisional or utility patent, both of which offer very different terms and considerations.
To better help you understand the two, as well as determining which is best for your idea, here are some things to keep in mind regarding provisional and utility patents.
Provisional Patents – A Timely Consideration
One of the easiest ways to determine the difference between a provisional and a utility patent is by considering the timing in which it’s filed.
A provisional patent can be used to cover an idea for a certain period of time. This gives the inventor time to go through the full patent process, if they choose that it it’s worth it. The truth is that there are a lot of ideas and patents already out there. So while you may have a golden idea that you think nobody has ever had before, that may not be the case. In addition, filing for an idea that has already been granted a utility patent will only disrupt and clog the system for other ideas that actually do need patents. Instead, utility patents are perfect for offering protection for a time period, without having to risk losing everything due to not being filed for soon enough.
Utility Patents – Offering The Best Protection
As mentioned, a utility patent is much more serious and offers longer terms than a provisional patent. Therefore, if an idea is going to be taken to the next steps, then an inventor will want to file for a utility patent. This will help to protect them for years to come, which could mean a life-changing difference in terms of financial gains that come from a product.
Before a family can reap the benefits of a life-changing idea, and the money that comes with it, they also need to invest in the patent itself. This is another large difference between provisional and utility patents, as the latter will cost much more money. Utility patents may also require lawyers to help determine and define legal jargon related to the idea being patented, which may cost additional fees as well.
Which One Is For Me?
There is little debate that a utility patent is the best way to go if you have a new idea that has yet to be thought of – and trust us, there are plenty of
them left. However, due to the timing and cost associated with filing, many inventors choose to go the quicker route with a provisional patent. If this is the way you choose to go, understand that your protection will only be granted for a certain period of time and a utility patent will need to be filed for future protection.
Patents protect our greatest ideas and our financial futures. To ensure you have the protection you need, consider this insight for determining if you need a provisional or utility patent.
July 15, 2015: Ambler, Pennsylvania : Top Dog Direct sponsored the 9th annual Big Lebowski night at Ambler Theater in Ambler, PA. Top Dog’s popular Night View yellow lens glasses are very similar to John Goodman’s character Walter’s glasses in the movie. Walter is a Viet Nam vet that wears the distinctive yellow lens glasses throughout the movie day and night. Walter used his glasses while he was in combat. Night Views increases visual acuity at night but many wear them for sports activities such as hunting, skiing and fishing. The night was a complete sellout of the 250 seats in the theater that included a costume contest, trivia contest and of course the cult classic movie. It was made extra special with a complementary pair of Night Views to all in attendance that Steve Silbiger from Top Dog handed out to the revelers. (photo credit: Sarah Silbiger)
Whether you realize it or not, everyone has had a great idea at least once in their lifetime. For some people, it’s a social media site that connects everyone in the world. For others, it may just be a simple life-hack that makes it easier to pack a suitcase. Whatever it is, all products start as a simple idea.
However, while all products may start as an idea, it’s important to realize that not all ideas will turn into a product. In fact, an entrepreneur may have the most desirable idea in the entire world, but it won’t mean anything if they can’t figure out a way to turn it into a tangible product that people will buy.
Whether you are a struggling entrepreneur who cannot figure out why sales are stagnant, or someone who is sitting on a gold mine without knowing it, here are some ways to help you determine if you have a product or an idea.
Are Others In Need Of The Product?
Remember that life-hack that was mentioned earlier? Maybe it’s an idea that you have that is perfect for your home due to the way your staircase is designed or because of it’s layout. Now you need to consider whether that same idea would be feasible for everyone else’s household as well.
The point here to consider is that you may have the perfect idea to fix a specific flaw, but it may not be something that you can turn into a tangible product. However, if it’s something that others do need, then it opens the doors for potential success.
Have You Created A Mockup Or Template Design?
You’ll want to ensure that you are protected before you go around showing everyone your great idea. Even your friends and family may start to get a bit greedy if your idea is a life-changer, and having a mockup of the initial idea or design will help protect yourself against any concerns. In addition, a physical mockup or a template design will help to show others just how much of a difference your product will make on their lives.
What Else Is Already Out There?
There are plenty of ways to make money by piggybacking off the success of others,but it’s also important to avoid over-flooding the market. You may have the perfect idea to improve an already existing product, making its use even better. However, you’ll want to avoid pushing things that have already been done repeatedly. Keep in mind that you cannot reinvent the wheel and putting money into an idea that tries to do so would likely not result in a positive investment.
There are plenty of great ideas out there. For anyone who thinks that all the good ones have already been taken, those are the type of people who will never benefit from an innovative and creative mindset. But if you truly want to be successful, it’s going to take much more than innovation and creativity. Instead, consider these tips for determining whether you have just an idea or an actual product, and then figure out how to make the most of what you have.
Anyone can be an inventor. While many people will likely read that and think that only great minds like Albert Einstein or Thomas Edison have what it takes to come up with new ideas that the world will need, the truth is that anyone can come up with great ideas no matter who they are.
No matter what industry you are in, there are different people that come together to make up the entirety of the field. The same is to be said about inventors and entrepreneurs. There is no one-size-fits-all mold that makes the perfect inventor. Instead, knowing what type of inventor you are will help you make the most of your visionary goals.
In order to succeed, you must first look at yourself. Therefore, here are some common character types for determining what type of inventor you might be.
Many inventors start as the creator type. They have a great idea and they want to do whatever it takes to make it come to fruition. These inventors are able to see a problem, find a solution, and then create a way for the masses to use it. Creators are often the mind behind the inventor process, but they may not be the only important figure.
Some people don’t have creative ideas, but that doesn’t stop them from still becoming an inventor. These inventor-types often have financial means that allow them to hire other people to work on ideas for them. The goal here is to find the best ideas and then make the most from them. Even if the idea wasn’t solely theirs, the financier is still an inventor just like the creator.
The Idea Machine
Having a good idea turn into something much larger than you ever could’ve imagined can be addicting. For some inventors, they simply can’t get enough of creating new things based off the ideas that they have. And once you’ve succeeded and have financial backing due to one venture, it becomes much easier to go forward with other ideas as well.
The important thing to note here is that inventors that come up with a lot of ideas should be careful to limit what they actually move forward with. For those inventors who are still looking for their big break, having too many ideas may limit your focus on one solid one. Or if you’ve been lucky enough to taste the success from one of your inventions, you’ll want to ensure that you don’t sink your riches into a new idea that won’t be as successful. Idea machine inventors are certainly out there, including plenty of successful ones who manage their thoughts well. However, understand the difference between an idea and a physical product, and do your best to focus your attention on the better ideas that you have.
What might be out there more than any other type of inventor is the could-have-been. These are the inventors who had a great idea or the finances to make it happen, but instead they sat around all day and never chased their dreams. The streets are littered with these inventor types, and you don’t want to be one of them. Therefore, take your idea and make the most of it now that you know what type of inventor you are.
Having another company offer financial support for your own is a double-edged sword that all entrepreneurs should pay for. On one hand, it’s great to know that someone sees enough potential in your business to want to take it to the next level. On the other hand, it can be a struggle to determine just how much to give, while also maintaining control over the company you’ve worked so hard to build.
In the event that a potential investor is interested in your business, they may offer financial support in return for equity stakes or a returned royalty. Both of these forms of repayment offer varying considerations that need to be made before agreeing to terms. If an entrepreneur fails to do such, they may end up with unfavorable conditions while working on something that was once considered solely theirs.
In order to determine which is best for you, here is a look at equity vs. royalty and an explanation of what the difference is.
Equity – A Set Deal
Equity is commonly a set deal that offers financial support in exchange for a stake or percentage in the company. For example, an investor may offer $25,000 in exchange for a percentage of the company based on an evaluation that they consider being fair. It’s up to the entrepreneur to determine whether or not they value the company at the same rate, or if they are willing to give up a percentage of their company for financial support.
As the business grows, that stake that the investor has can be very important. That can lead to more control over decisions, as well as a larger repayment in the event that the company explodes and becomes very popular.
It’s important to note that giving up equity in exchange for financial support is something that many entrepreneurs must do if they want their idea to succeed. While it may be difficult to consider giving up part of a company, it’s often the only option that will help avoid failure.
Royalty – A Proportionate Repayment
With a royalty, there is also an investor who will offer financial support to the company. However, what changes is that the return for the investment comes in the form of a percentage based off sales. For example, an investor may offer $25,000 in exchange for a percentage of all sales moving forward. That percentage does not have to be tied to any control over the company, but instead just acts as a financial return on an investment.
A royalty gets tricky because it can be ideal for small business’ that do not have a lot of sales. However, if you end up agreeing to a royalty payment and then your product explodes, the returned profits can quickly become disproportionate in relation to the initial $25,000 investment. To avoid this, companies should consider multiple tiers and other levels of payouts, in the event that a royalty payment is the decided upon option.
What’s Best For Your Business?
Now that you know the difference between equity and royalty, the question remains as to which is best for your business. While this will depend greatly on your own circumstances, consider the information presented here when determining which option will provide you with the best chances for success moving forward with your company and your dreams.
Determining the perfect price for your product is going to be one of the most difficult challenges you have as an entrepreneur. But even once your prices are stable and set, you’ll quickly realize that initial price points are just the beginning of a much larger equation. Depending on how you change those prices could have a large impact on your overall sales.
To ensure that you don’t lose customers due to inconsistent prices, you need to justify and consider any changes you make. In order to assist you with this process, here are some tips for dropping product prices effectively.
Determine The Right Amount
Entrepreneurs that have a physical product likely won’t be able to discount their goods from several thousand dollars to a fraction of that price. However, an artist or author who has a digital copy of their work may be more willing to bring their prices down, or even give a limited amount away, if it means that they will get more recognition for their artistic abilities. It’s very important that, no matter what the product is, it is discounted proportionately. Keep reading to find out how to determine that proportion.
Avoid Sporadic Spikes
One thing that entrepreneurs won’t want to do is continually change their prices with sporadic and drastic spikes. For example, going back and forth from $10 to $1 for a product may help you get more sales at first, but the long-run effects will result in low price expectations. In addition, sporadic spikes in price also leads to customer doubt, which makes it nearly impossible to build loyalty. The lesson to learn here might just be that less frequent price changes could have a more effective impact for overall sales.
Have A Reason
If it’s a holiday, have a sale. If you’ve hired a new employee, have a sale. If the weather is hot out, have a sale. The point is, always offer a reason for the sale that you are having. Therefore, when you put your prices back to regular levels, you’ll have an honest explanation for the customer. Otherwise, sales that occur, “just because” might develop customer resentment moving forward.
Consider The Alternative Options
We live in a world where things are continually being outdated and replaced. Whether it’s video games, technology, cars, or clothing, we are a generation where new is certainly “in.” With that in mind, it’s important that entrepreneurs do not hold onto their items, or overprice them, once the trend has died down. Take a look at smartphones, which go down drastically in price once the latest version comes out. Those prices continue to go down as newer technology is released. With your product, consider it’s lifeline and any updated versions. If they are available, you may be better off selling things quickly versus holding on and hoping for sales in the future.
Every business is different, as are the products they sell. However, there isn’t an industry out there that doesn’t have to consider price changes. But before you go and change the prices on your product, be sure to consider these tips for effective change strategies.
Anyone can have a great idea that nobody has ever thought of before. At least, they think nobody has thought of it until they do a bit more research to realize that might not be the case. If your product is proprietary, that means that you are the sole owner of the product/idea, or you are given credit for as much, which limits the uses that other people can claim without your approval.
In the past, claiming proprietary rights over a product or idea was complex. You’ve probably heard plenty of stories about the person who lost their idea or product to a much larger company, simply because they did not know how to protect themselves.
Now, thanks to the Internet and the general ease of finding information, it’s easier than ever to determine whether or not your product is already out there or not. However, you may want to think twice before you type your great idea into a search engine, as your idea may not be as safe as you think.
Keeping Your Ideas Safe
The idea of claiming proprietary rights over a product or a service is so that you can be recognized as the first person to think of it. Just imagine how different their stories would be if entrepreneurs like Albert Einstein, Thomas Edison, Bill Gates, or Mark Cuban didn’t have the rights that they need for the products that are synonymous with their success. If you want to ensure that you stay in control over your product or idea, then you need to ensure that you claim proprietary rights over it.
Running Your Products Together
Some organizations have perfected what it takes to ensure that their products remain proprietary. Take a company like Adobe, for example. Adobe is known for their line of digital products that range from computer support to photo editing. However, the product that might be most useful to Adobe is Acrobat, which is the reader that is used for Portable Document Format – otherwise known as PDFs. Without Acrobat, users cannot view a variety of different files and documents, which makes Adobe an integral, if not irreplaceable, part of the equation.
For entrepreneurs who want to ensure the propriety of their product(s), making different elements along the way might be key. In the event that a competing company comes into the picture and claims improper ownership, you will have the other pieces of the puzzle that limit the usage of the final product. This is an ideal way to save yourself from concerns related to lost proprietary rights, as you will be able to hold multiple links along the line – much like Adobe does.
Making The Most Of What You Have
It’s a cold world that is full of corporate lawyers and overly greedy CEOs. And while there may be nothing that you can do to change that, you can be ready to take whatever comes your way. Many companies have survived the concerns of others taking proprietary rights by making the most of what they have. The popular computer operating system, Linux, for example, offers both free and paid versions. Offering a free version is a way to give users some features, by looking for a switch to another product.
Having a great idea might be what you need to change the outlook of your family fortune. However, keep in mind that your great idea might already be out there. If it’s not and you can claim proprietary over it, then it’s vital that you remain protected by legal concerns. Consider the tips here for determining whether or not your idea or product is proprietary, and then do whatever it takes to make the most of the idea you’ve had.
When you put your heart into something, as well as plenty of blood, sweat, and tears, it’s hard to imagine ever parting ways with it. Yet, for many entrepreneurs, somewhere along the way, they may have to consider the idea of giving up equity.
The question is: When do you give up equity in your business or your idea? After all, give in too soon and you may end up giving away too much. Then again, if you refuse to ever give up equity, your business or idea may never get the support it needs.
To help you better determine when the timing is right, here is some insight for when to give up equity in your business.
Be Swept Up Or Swept Away
The moment that others catch on to your great idea, no matter what it is, it’s time to start the countdown until you have competitors who are trying to capitalize on your market. It’s very important that you evaluate this exchange closely. If, for example, you cannot keep up with demand, then you are likely to be swept away by your competition. However, if it’s the perfect time to consider equity for acquisition or services, then the added financial support may be what is needed to meet growing demands.
Do Other Burdens Occur While Raising Equity Assistance?
There have been a lot of companies that have put the cart far before the horse, and you should consider their stories and tread lightly in order to avoid your own demise. Considering equity brings in a lot of questions into an organization. If your company is going to be burdened by any sort of equity process, then the overall impact needs to be weighed against the expected benefits. Sometimes growth is inevitable and changes aren’t a problem. But if the organization is in a fragile state, then it’s important to tread lightly to avoid greater disruptions.
Know What Not To Give In On
Considering the exchange of equity for control is going to require managers, owners, and other leaders to make tough decisions. But that’s part of the job and something that should be prepared for the moment that you consider giving up equity. When that time comes, you will do yourself a favor by knowing what you will, and what you won’t, give in on. If, for example, the conditions are not favorable, then tough choices will have to be made. There’s no one-size-fits-all answer and each business is different. Consider yours carefully as you understand what you will, or won’t, give in on.
For many people, the idea of starting a business is a life-long dream that only comes true after invaluable amounts of effort and work. Unfortunately, effort and work may not be enough to get you through. If that happens, your only option may be to consider exchanging equity. Before you do that, make these considerations as you evaluate when to give up equity for your business. Though each business is different, the answers here will help you make a decision that’s best for you.