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I Have an Invention Idea But No Money: Here’s What to Do!

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  By Forrest McCall | Last Updated:  December 28, 2020

For many entrepreneurs, you might be wondering what to do if you have an invention idea but no money. Luckily, there are many options to help you get started.

No matter how you discovered this idea, you might be thinking “I have an invention idea but no money to fund it! What can I do!?”

In this article, I’m going to examine several options to help you make money from your invention idea and the steps it takes to develop a new product.

Let’s get started!

What Do I Do If I Have an Invention Idea But No Money?

If you have a great invention idea but no money, don't stress! You have many different options to make money from your idea! Whether you choose to sell your idea or start a company and market your ideas, there are many ways you can cash in.

Examine Your Invention Idea

Once the initial invention idea pops into your head, you’ll want to take note of any details you might have. This isn’t meant to be a final product by any means, but the more concrete information you can describe, the more helpful this will be when selling your invention idea or applying for a patent.

Once you've dug into the details of your invention idea, you'll want to do some research to ensure it can be successful.

To do this, it's a good idea to conduct market research through surveys or focus groups to have a better understanding of if your product will be successful and make you money.

You'll want to find people in your target market so that you can examine how your product or solution resonates with your ideal customer.

In a survey, you could ask questions like, “How does X product make you feel?” or “What first comes to mind when you think about X?.

You can then gather your results from these questions and see how they relate to your invention idea. These answers will help to validate your idea so you waste money.

People may want to be compensated for their time when conducting focus groups, so be sure to consider this in your financial plan.

Ensure There Isn’t an Outstanding Patent for Your Idea

When examining your idea further, you’ll want to conduct some market research and browse through a patent database to ensure your invention idea doesn’t already exist. Surprisingly, someone else might have already thought of your idea!

You may need to contact the patent and trademark office to ensure your idea has not already been taken.

You can also consider a prior art search to see if there are any potential products that may compete with yours or are extremely related.

Keep Documentation of Your Invention Idea

If you’re looking to eventually apply for a patent for your invention, you’ll need to have proper documentation of your idea.

It's important to write down every detail of your new product or solution to better your chances of being approved for a patent in the future.

Apply for a Patent for Your Invention

Once you’ve outlined some of your invention, the next step will be to apply for a provisional patent. There are many types of patents but a provisional patent lets you claim the rights to your invention without having a final product or prototype.

Patenting your invention can take some time and money so you'll want to make sure your idea is robust enough for your resources. Depending on the size of the entity filing, it can cost anywhere from $70 to around $300 to apply for a provisional patent. A provisional patent will last 12 months from its original filing date. Once expired, your claims to the idea will no longer be patentable. You must file a non-provisional patent within the 12 month period to extend your rights to the idea.

To save money, it's important to complete as much research as possible to avoid having your patent declined. It's best to be sure that someone hasn't already invented something highly related first.

Build a Prototype of Your Invention Idea

At this point in the process, you might be thinking to yourself “Okay, I’ve done my research and I have an invention idea but no money, how can I make it to the next step?”.

After applying for a provisional patent, you can opt to build a prototype of your invention to further examine how it will work and function.

To create a prototype of your invention, you can do one of a few things.

First, you can consider purchasing a moldable substance that you can form to the shape of your product.

Alternatively, you can approach a prototyping company to build your product for you. The obvious downside of this option is that if you have an invention idea but no money, you’ll need to come up with some cash to pay them.

Another idea to build your prototype is using a 3D printer. Because 3D printers are extremely flexible, you have many options when building your prototype including color, thickness, and more.

Once you've successfully built a prototype you can continue the development of your products.

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Take Out a Personal or Business Loan to Fund Your Invention

If your invention looks to be a viable and marketable product, you’ll need to obtain funding to get the business started. One way to accomplish this is through a personal or business loan.

Taking out a loan for your invention idea can be somewhat risky.

If you are unable to pay back the loan, you can accrue significant amounts of interest. Make sure you pay back these loans as soon as possible to limit any interest payments.

You'll want to consider your financial situation before taking out a loan for your company.

Search For Invention Grants

Sometimes, you might find a grant to fund your invention. These grants do not need to be paid back and vary in amount. Depending on your invention, you might be capable of finding a grant that funds some or all of your project. The process for finding grants for your invention is quite simple: search, search, search.

Ask Family and Friends for Cash to Fuel Your Invention

Family, friends, and other people close to you can be a great asset when it comes to starting a business. You can ask them for a small donation to help you start your invention. Even if it's just a few bucks, it's free money that can be used to develop or market your ideas.

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Find Investors for Your Invention Idea

Finding investors might be one of the best ways to find the money you need to build your invention and company. When an investor enters the mix, they’ll control a certain portion of the business in exchange for the capital they inject into your business.

The benefits of having investors for your business is that you are likely to get the funds you need to advance your business. However, this means you’ll lose some control of the company.

Sell Your Invention Idea for Cash

If you’ve come up with the idea but want to make money on it fast, you might consider selling your invention idea.

There are several pros and cons of doing this.

One of the benefits is that it is an easy and quick way to make money from your invention with little risk required.

The major downside of selling your invention for cash is the possibility of the invention being extremely popular making millions of dollars.

When selling your invention, the buyer will likely offer you significantly less than you might think your product is worth. This is because he or she will need to invest a significant amount of time or money to produce the product and turn it into a profitable business.

If you’re looking to sell your invention for cash, here are a few options to consider.

Sharper Image

Sharper Image might pay you for your invention. You can email them ( the details of your invention to get started.


3M is a classic company that trades in the stock market. You can submit your invention here.

Dorman Products, Inc

If your product is in the homeware or automotive categories, Dorman might pay for your idea. Submit your idea here.

Sell Your Patent for Cash

If you've decided not to proceed with your invention but you have a patented product, someone else may want it and be willing to pay for it. Because it would take time to build a new idea, people might buy it from you for cash.

To sell your patent, first, you'll need to see if there is a market for your patent. You can browse or other intellectual property auction websites to see if people are searching for your idea.

License your Invention to Companies

Another excellent way to make money from your product is by licensing it to companies for their use.

What does it mean to license your product?

Essentially when you license your product, you'll get paid a small fee for your ideas through royalties. Anytime your product is sold, you'll receive a small payment.

Companies and investors love licensing products because of how low-risk it is.

Examine Invention Idea

How to Start a Business from Your Invention Idea

If you've done the research on your idea and you want to build a business out of your new product, you'll need to have a plan on how to proceed. Below are some of the steps to take when turning your idea into a business.

Create a Business Plan

When starting any business, the first step is to have a plan in place to ensure your company can become profitable in the future.

A business plan should include the details of your business including what products you will sell, how you will manage your expenses, a financial plan, and the ownership of the company. You can find more details on how to create the perfect business plan here.

Obtain Funding for your Company

If you've decided to proceed with your business, you'll need to obtain funding to fuel your start-up costs. You'll want to make sure you have enough capital to cover both start-up expenses as well as some of your ongoing costs.

For some companies, you might need a lot of money to get started while others might not need much. Your business plan should have details regarding how much money you need to develop your product, produce it, and market your products.

Pick a Business Name

After obtaining funding for your company, you'll need to pick a name for it. For some, it might be the name of the product while others might choose something more unique to expand their product line in the future.

When picking a name for your business, it's a good idea to keep your ideal customer in mind so that someone can easily relate to your products.

Register your Business

After naming your business, it's time to register it with state and local officials. This will make your business legitimate in the eyes of the state.

Open Bank Accounts & Credit Cards

Once your business has been registered, you can open and bank accounts or credit cards to keep your personal and business finances separate.

If possible, aim to find a bank account or credit card that offers a sign up bonus so you can have some additional cash to market your idea.

Launch your Business

Once your bank accounts are opened, your business is ready to start! You can continue developing your products and building prototypes as well as marketing your ideas for people to buy.

When launching your business, you'll want to dedicate some time to learning marketing and product development to help you grow your business and expand into related products.

The process of launching your company can be stressful. But if you can take the time to keep customers satisfied, you're sure to grow a thriving business.

How Much Money Can Inventions Make?

One of the primary reasons inventors will choose to pursue their invention is because of the tremendous income potential. By creating just one successful product, your invention can make tens of millions of dollars.

You might be thinking “But I don’t have the next big idea?”

As it turns out, you don’t need to have the most complex invention idea to make large sums of money.

For example, the Scrub Daddy, a basic kitchen scrubbing pad has made tens of millions of dollars from sales online and in stores. This simple product had a potential that only a few investors could see.

Inventors capable of finding a unique product and doing research, product development, and marketing can make hundreds of millions off of their inventions.

How to Become an Inventor

Becoming an inventor can be a tremendous way to make money from your ideas. And best of all, anyone can become an inventor. You may think you need to be an expert at product development but that's not the case.

When becoming an inventor, you'll want to understand the process of creating new products including prototyping, patenting, and other aspects of making a product including research, marketing, and finances.

Becoming an inventor will be hard work and take a significant amount of time. You cannot expect to become a great inventor overnight. Many people will spend thousands of hours developing potential products only to find many of them do not turn successful.

On the bright side, just one product can turn you into a millionaire.

What happens after an inventor has created a successful invention?

Many inventors will then expand into new related offerings or they may retire from inventing.

Final Thoughts on What to Do if You Have an Invention Idea But No Money

Invention ideas can come at any time and at any place. Maybe in the shower or during your commute to work.

If you have no money to fund it, that's okay! There are many ways you can make money from your idea or ways to get the cash to start a business. Between taking out a business loan to asking family and friends for money, you have options.

If you still can't come up with the cash, you can always opt to sell your invention idea for cash. This is a great low-risk way to make money.

Have you ever thought of the next big, new product? What did you do? Comment below!

Forrest is a personal finance, entrepreneurship, and investing expert dedicated to helping others obtain life long wealth. He has a Bachelor's degree in business and has been featured in many popular publications including Forbes, Business Insider, Bankrate, CNET Money, and many others. To learn more about Forrest, visit the About Us Page for more info.
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