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Why Your Idea Will Fail


This is an extract from my new book, IP is Everything, which discusses how to use intangible assets in building your new business…

A.k.a the Psychology of Inventing and The Pathology of Brilliance

I thought it useful to consider the one thing that most business and invention-type books do not discuss – the psychology of invention, ideation, and creation, and the impact that it has on product success. I believe that this is central to understanding why most inventions do not make it to market and end up in a heap of shattered dreams, wasted money, and strained relationships. Every case is different of course, but after having counseled and worked with so many inventors and entrepreneurs, some successful, some unsuccessful, I thought it useful to share some of these insights. While these are my thoughts and broad-brush generalisations, they have been echoed by many other venture capitalists that I work with, as well as numerous patent attorneys, product commercialization specialists, and government funders.

Why Intangibles Are Closer Than You Think

IP is seen by many as something abstract, ethereal, and completely out of touch with the challenges they are confronted with in their everyday lives. Most businesses don’t give a minute’s thought to intellectual property and, those that do, see it more as a nuisance than a help, something that the legal team should sort out, not senior management. And the few that have tried implementing half-hearted IP policies, strategies and management principles in their companies have come face-to-face with the inevitable ‘IP paralysis’ that I mentioned earlier, when everyone knows there’s something to be done, but no-one knows what. The same holds true for lone inventors and entrepreneurs. But it’s important to realize that IP isn’t a distant concept, or a new figment of the legal imagination thought up by scholarly types with a penchant for administration.

Let me illustrate this for you: think back to a time in your childhood or at university, or perhaps in a career situation, where you did something creative or special. Perhaps you were in school and had studied hard for a test or put in a lot of effort with your homework, only to have someone else copy your answers. Or you may have come up with a good idea, only to find that someone else, after you had disclosed it to them, had pretended the idea was theirs and perhaps had gotten credit for your work. They may have stolen your idea for a business, plagiarized something you had written, or appropriated for themselves a cool idea or concept that you had thought up.