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Career Plans

Discussion in 'Work and Financial Problems' started by may71, Jan 22, 2018.

  1. may71

    may71 Well-Known Member

    So I'd like to make some career plans and I'm interested in getting some feedback.

    I used to have a full-time job that was very stressful (mostly because of the people I had to deal with), then I spent a few years unemployed (but trying to start a business, but I only got so far). For the last couple of years I've been working again, but only part time. My job is pretty manageable because it's usually low stress.

    There are a couple of paths that I could try to follow. One is that I try to get a second job, hopefully one as low stress as the one I've got now.

    The thing that I'm most excited about though is inventing. I've literally got hundreds of ideas, at various levels of development (in terms of how much thought I've put into them, and in some cases patent research), but I don't have anything prototyped.

    There are a number of problems with inventing, however.

    One is that (practically speaking) to make money from an invention, you have to have a patent for it. Without going into details, to get a patent, the thing that you are trying to patent has to meet a number of standards. There's also expenses. I should be eligible for some pro-bono legal aid, which would dramatically cut down on the costs of getting a patent.

    Even if a patent is issued though (which can be a lengthy process), only about 3% of patented inventions ever make money. There are various reasons for this. Just to name a couple, one is that the market doesn't want your invention, and another is that the patent holder fails to market and develop.

    One problem is picking which of my inventions would be the best to develop. I have a couple of ideas that I think might be best though.

    One of my ideas is for an improvement to methods and devices for a particular type of pediatric heart surgery.

    The advantages of developing this idea are:

    1. If it works the way I hope, it would save the lives of children

    2. Similar methods and devices might be used for other types of patients

    3. In principle there's a government research grant available to develop it

    Whether or not it might actually work is quite speculative though, and I don't know for sure this is something that they would still fund. In principle, I could check with someone at the potential funding organization to see if the idea seemed plausible and was in principle something that they might fund.

    Even if I cross that hurdle though, I'd still have to recruit a principle investigator, since I can't run experiments or prototype on my own. Also, it can be pretty hard to get research grants.

    There's also another idea that I've picked as a good candidate for development. It would be a business service. The appeal of this would be that it could be something I could start on a small scale, and work up, rather than having to try to get venture capital funding for. The downside would be I'd have to pay for all the prototyping.

    With any of my ideas, there's the problem that as I try to develop them, I get into (at least) project management issues, and I don't have any background with that. Unless I sell the ideas to someone else, I'd also have to either recruit someone to start a business, or learn enough about business to manage the business myself.

    While in principle I could learn a few things here and there, my energy level and motivation is quite low. The thing I do best is come up with ideas for how to solve problems, but everything else is outside of my core competency. I'm not sure that I could simply farm out all of the work to other people and expect to get good results.
  2. cymbele

    cymbele SF Supporter

    Tried to start a business myself with the ex-hubby -yes we are still friends - and small business organization here basically said we had to fund our own idea (i didn't think it was patentable). We couldn't afford it (I was out of work at the time). I have the management skills; he was the inventor but (1) telling him to make more than 1 of anything is impossible and (2) he never designed a product through production. I have the design skills and an MBA and we couldn't afford it. I lost interest.
    In the usa there is an organization of volunteers called SCORE. They help educate and mentor small businesses from startup. Maybe there is some networking you can do to see your ideas through.
    Good luck and keep trying.
    may71 likes this.
  3. Kiwi2016

    Kiwi2016 Forum Pro

    Sounds like you have some great ideas which could be so beneficial to many people especially the pediatric cardiac device...in regards to getting a handle on project management skills maybe there is a community college that offers an online course in it...I took one of those for 3 sessions and though far from my comfort level/abilities I think that it was quite helpful and will be referring back to some of the components to apply to my current job...it may help you to formulate a plan that you could then develop into a business plan and seek investors for your ideas...wishing you luck and keep us posted :)
    may71 likes this.
  4. may71

    may71 Well-Known Member

    Thank you Cymbele.
    Do you think things could have worked out if you had gotten the financing?

    I've heard of SCORE, they might be helpful.

    Networking can definitely help

    Thank you Kiwi. There are some schools in my area, so I'll have to look into it.

    Thank you. Yeah, it would be nice if I could do something that would save children's lives. Getting grant for R&D would make the process much easier too. Might work, might not, but I suppose it's worth looking into. If I get positive feedback from someone at a funding institution, that would be a good sign.
    Last edited: Jan 23, 2018
  5. may71

    may71 Well-Known Member

    I know that @JmpMster has some experience with business management, I'm trying to think of who else might have some input about this.
  6. JmpMster

    JmpMster Have a question? Message Me Staff Member Forum Owner ADMIN

    Hi @may71 - Sorry did not see this post earlier - I do have some thoughts to share that may be helpful (or not- worse case just not any help though) and will share a little later today when I have time to properly write and read more carefully what you have here so far.
  7. may71

    may71 Well-Known Member

    That would be fantastic, thank you! And it doesn't have to be today, either. It's important to me, but not urgent.

    Really, any feedback is helpful.
  8. JmpMster

    JmpMster Have a question? Message Me Staff Member Forum Owner ADMIN

    You have hit the nail on the head with this statement. If all the best ideas and inventions ever thought of in history had been developed and implemented the world would be at least century more advanced by now in terms of development and technology. Unfortunately, it is not the best idea/invention that gets advanced, it is the idea that is marketed the best and has adequate resources (funding and people connections mostly) to get it into the mainstream. Another very common issue with inventions and patenting is the fact that after spending oodles of time and development resources, one finds that it was in fact already thought of and patented (and often times the patent intentionally held but not developed by a company/corporation that has a competing product already in the market and chooses to not go through the expense of change- just making sure nobody else can either- a "road block patent"). It is not enough that the idea or invention is original and yours, it has to be substantially different than what anybody else ever thought or invented. That issue does not typically come up until after a year or two of costs and marketing put into it then the infringement claim and lawsuit that takes everything you made and leaves only debt.

    That issue, among others, is why it is nearly impossible to go at "inventing" as a solo practice. Aside from legal issues of getting patents, there is the research capacity on similar types of products to avoid unknowingly infringing on other patents, and the ability to fend off or come to terms on future legal disputes. All of these require deep pockets and substantial backing. It is not to say that there is no such thing as individual inventors, or people with a great idea that turned it into a something amazing and were rewarded appropriately- just that it is very very difficult and not at all the normal outcome.

    Most often, getting some type of trademark and just initiating a patent at minimal expense then selling the idea or concept (to be completed by a place with that type of resources) is the actual route taken by inventors. Then you do not need to prototype or fully develop, and you can let all the upfront cost of patenting, patent research, and legal defense in future fall to them. Obviously, it is lower sale price for the idea and start of patent (started just so you have some protections) than for a fully patented and protected product or design, but is possible like this to actually get a start as an "inventor" and to generate an income to begin with until you can establish a relationship with an investor/(s) or corporate backing (which will be built on reputation for successes). Understand that the best place for a sale of a concept of design product is often to somebody with the competing product that yours is actually better, but so they can buy it as a protective "road block" patent. Not hugely satisfying, but financially it may make it possible to get started.

    When it comes to specific type of things like a pediatric heart surgical tool, getting a "voice" or spokesperson would be my first objective. In this case I would think finding a pediatric heart surgeon, discussing with them, and getting their endorsement would be the absolute first step. I doubt any investor or company would listen at all without a highly credentialed surgeon being the "seller" of the idea- or at least extremely vocal proponent. I would suggest finding that - discussing , and working out terms of what percentage they want to do this (if they agree it is workable/would be benefit) is the first step.

    A field or subject matter expert, outside of yourself, will always be the key to getting foot in the door with investors or for best sale price as an idea or concept even. People want to hear an expert in the area tell them how great it is, and they want to hear it from somebody other than the actual inventor- so even the best heart surgeon in world doing the exact same process would be better to get a simply "good and well known" surgeon as a backer and voice rather than trying to sell it themselves, because of the suspected conflict of interest in declaring themselves how great the item is. This person would also be the key to marketing if you went ahead and fully developed and patented the product.

    This is a very significant issue. Business management is it very own unique specialty. Trying to be an expert in many things is hard at best. Doing anything but managing a business if it is more than a small sole proprietorship or LLC is in fact a full time job all by itself, and takes many years of experience to be successful at (as you may have learned in the attempt to start your own business before) even if you have the educational background of a business degree. This learning process sis far better done starting as a low level manager with mentors and higher managers to learn from, and years of practice on somebody else's dime (and payroll) so the inevitable mistakes do not cost you your business and investment.

    While I am certain there are many individual examples to prove me wrong, as a percentage overall the odds of successfully running your own business without extensive business background, regardless of quality or product or idea, are exceptionally low unless starting very small and growing very slowly. At minimum, consider hiring a business manager, or outsourcing to an agency for the the day to day business functions so you can concentrate on your area of expertise or knowledge.

    On the plus side is, there are in fact many very capable, very experienced, business managers that would love to run "their own" business, but lack a viable product or unique enough product to enable them to start a business of their own due to the competitive nature of starting a new business in a field that already exists. That may make it possible to find the right person to go in jointly- you bring the creative concepts , they bring the business acumen to try a joint venture.

    Energy and motivation will be key. All of the above things will have obstacles come along that make the most motivated person in the world consider quitting. You will just need to find the motivation or self discipline to make and stick to a plan regardless of energy or how feeling on any day or week, or success will be very very difficult. I do not have an answer to that one really- except that the above of a joint venture that allowed you to stick to creative concepts and have somebody else deal with the day to day problems and headaches. It will be a tough sell though unless they are firmly convinced of the value of your concepts and ideas. Realistically, they may want some type of greater compensation for their daily effort and work than you for your ideas and concepts. Maybe split on business profits 50/50 when those come, but they also are drawing a salary for work as you go, as an example. Which of course makes business viability much more difficult at start and requires more capital to begin with.

    Good luck- I do hope you are able to find a way to bring your ideas into actual existence. The world suffers from lack of implementing and exploring ideas and inventions due to practicalities hiding or repressing many of the best ideas.
    Last edited: Jan 26, 2018
    may71 likes this.