7 Common Inventing Mistakes [And How to Avoid Them!]

September 04, 2017

7 Common Inventing Mistakes [And How to Avoid Them!]

Whether you’re a newbie inventor or inventing is old hat to you, developing something new and interesting is never easy. Most successful inventors will freely admit that the path to creation is winding, squiggly, and often frustrating. The truth is that every successful invention is preceded by countless failures.

So, how do you ensure that you succeed?

There are dozens of inventing mistakes that can trip you up and slow you down at any given time. The key is learning to avoid them.

To help you out, we’ve collected the top seven most common inventing mistakes that we’ve seen over and over again. Better yet, we’ve included advice for how to avoid these errors.

1. Refusing to Listen 

You don’t need to follow someone’s advice blindly, but you shouldn’t ignore him or her either. It’s great to believe in yourself and your invention, but dissenting points of view also have their place.

The truth is that you can’t see every angle of your idea—the good, the bad, the confusing. That’s where friends, family, mentors, and thought leaders can be invaluable.

It’s important to soak up as much insight as you can from the people around you. Don’t let them determine your course of action, but let them influence how you move forward.

Be open-minded. Stay curious. Listen to conflicting ideas and opinions and your invention will be better for it. Follow these five rules for listening to advice from Inc.com.

2. Thinking a Prototype & Patent Are Enough

So, you’ve made your invention prototype, and you’ve gotten a patent.

Your invention is secure and done, right?


There are inventors who’ve spent years perfecting their prototype, spending thousands of dollars on their patent with nothing to show for it. You don’t need a perfectly polished prototype and a patent before you can start benefiting from your idea. 

The major inventing mistake most people make is thinking that people will come to them if they have all their ducks in a row. Instead, it’s better to actively and aggressively seek out buyers and investors as early as possible.

Have an idea you want to be successful? You’re going to have to make it successful.

That’s why the Quirky inventor’s platform exists.

3. Using Your Invention in Public Too Early 

Did you know that after you use your invention in public for the first time you have only 12 months to apply for a patent?

If you miss the 12-month window, you might not be able to obtain a patent at all.

While, above, we talked about not waiting for perfection to get started, you also don’t want to miss your opportunity for a patent because you’re so eager to make money. To protect yourself, read about the impact of public disclosure on a patent from the University of Tennessee. 

4. Forgetting About Money 

The old saying, “You have to have money to make money” holds true for inventors. 

One of the biggest inventing mistakes we see is people not having enough financial reserves to get their idea off the ground. The reality is that if you’re strapped for cash, you’re going to have a difficult time creating your product.

If you want your best chance for success, make sure you have a steady income that can see you through the invention phase. No matter how incredible your idea, it will take a while to become profitable. A job will help you keep food on the table while you wait to make it big. As toy inventor Bill Ward said, “Keep the day job.”

5. Focusing Too Small

One incredible idea is great, but five is better. If you spend all your energy and time focusing on just one idea, you’re putting yourself at risk. Whenever you put all your eggs in one basket, you leave yourself open to trouble.

Most successful inventors you’ll run into have more than just one idea—they have hundreds. 


It allows them to fail but keep moving forward.

6. Ignoring Research

How can you determine if your invention will be successful?

Do the research!

Market research will tell you everything you want to know about licensing, inventing, and getting your idea to the market. Research will also help you determine if you have an audience, who they are, where they shop, what they want, and more.

Without research, you won’t know how to price your product, where to sell it, or even if anyone will buy it. The devil truly is in the details. 

Check out this great article on researching inventions.

7. Expecting Unrealistic Results

While confidence is good, expecting unrealistic results is a detrimental inventing mistake.

You’re not going to make millions of dollars within a few weeks. You’re also, probably, not going to get your product onto store shelves nationwide right away. It all takes time.

First, remember that new products take a while to develop. In fact, you can expect at least a six-month process to design and manufacture your product before it even gets close to being marketed to and on sale. It’s then about waiting for the word to get out and success to start happening. Don’t get frustrated when/if it doesn’t happen as quickly as you expected.

Stay at it and it will work out.


At Quirky, we want to see all of our inventors become successful and we hope this list of inventing mistakes helps you get and stay on the right track!