The Invention Accelerator

Meaningful Soft Skills for Inventors

There’s more to becoming a successful invention entrepreneur than the 5 steps I teach to bring new inventions to market. It requires certain skills that were possibly not taught at home or in school and therefor we’re not equipped with them for our careers. Yet these skills are vital and should be baked into everything we do.

 

There are 2 important skill sets we need to be successful entrepreneurs, Soft and hard skill.  Hard skills are the technical skills we use to get a job done. So for example, inventors learn to become proficient at research & development by reading books and blogs online or watching videos like this one to learn the “steps to market”.

 

But, what about the soft skills that are critical to our success. Soft Skills are more than just people skills and a positive attitude, they’re character traits and interpersonal skills that characterize a person's relationship with others.

 

While there are well over 100 soft skill categories and subcategories. Here are the skills I think inventors should take a personal inventory of and get to work on, if lacking.

Beginning with probably the most important, Communication Skills.

 

Good communication skills doesn’t just mean having the gift of the gab; it goes far beyond verbal communication. It’s the ability to easily communicate complex ideas and important messages with clarity and to the point, whether spoken or written.

 

Can you see how these skills will help you to create better sell sheets, reach out to prospects and negotiating deals?

 

You’ll also have to communicate with vendors and services providers to help you through the entire process.

 

And the most helpful advice I can think to give you here is to do your best to set proper expectations for yourself and everyone you work with. Close the loop at the end of every conversation by setting clear expectations for next steps and you will avoid not only expensive mistakes, but a whole lot of anxiety and frustration.

 

The second soft skill I’d submit for your consideration is Critical Thinking.

 

Glitches, bumps in the road, and stumbling blocks are all part of the invention commercialization process and represent learning opportunities for you. The ability to use your knowledge to find answers to pressing problems and the formulate workable solutions will do so much to help you not just invent better products.

 

For example, if you don’t put on your critical thinking cap while researching the market, you could very easily miss data insights that relatively predict whether the product is worth pursuing or not.

 

Some problems on the path to market require fresh solutions, and creativity is what drives innovation and progress. Your adaptability and tolerance of change and uncertainty are often pushed to the limit throughout the journey as entrepreneurs so brush up on your Critical Thinking skills if you want to make this a career!

 

Leadership may not seem like a critical skill for independent inventors, after all we tend to work in silos. But we are the CEO of our own company and as such are leading anyone that we engaged to help us on our journey. Leaders must assess, motivate, encourage, and resolve conflicts. Understanding how to influence people and accommodate their needs is essential to getting deals done with vendors, suppliers, and licensees.

 

You may find this exhausting if you aren’t a natural Type A and think it’s just not an important skill for you to have, but I promise you, if you take the time to learn the things on this list, like conflict management and resolution, motivation, and project management, for example, you will experience a higher success rate!

 

A good leader does not simply make commands, they inspire and encourage their team, and they care about those who work with, AND for them. Leadership is not reserved for bosses, managers and supervisors of teams, a person with leadership skills will have the ability to take ownership and authority over even the smallest of projects or tasks.

 

Teamwork is another soft skill that may be overlooked by independent inventors. Yes, we tend to work independently, but demonstrating you are still a team player will elevate your pitch and set the standard for your ongoing relationship with a licensee.

 

Work Ethic refers to soft skills like Dedication, Attentiveness, and proper business etiquette.

A person with a good work ethic enjoys what they do and understands and accepts responsibility.

 

That means sometimes doing the work you don’t enjoy, to get the ultimate result you desire.

For example, that could be the detailed research necessary to thoroughly flush out the competition and determination to invent a solution with a truly competitive value proposition. I know a lot of people dive into a new idea with very little competitive landscape research, for example.

 

But, you need to be disciplined, focused and always professional. A strong work ethic means understanding that hard work pays off and putting the upmost effort into every aspect of the job.

 

Next we have Time Management. This doesn’t just improve your productivity and efficiency, it will also have a positive impact on the quality of the work you produce.

 

If you work a regular job and have to balance that with family and personal responsibilities, it’s hard! I know! But the invention business is the perfect side hustle because it’s something you are in control of for the most part!

 

You can proactively manage your time by setting aside a little time on a regular basis, whether that’s 30 min a day or a block of time one day a week.

 

Being organized means knowing how to efficiently manage not only the space you work in, but also your time and workload. Clutter is never good for any working environment, whether it be in the office, digitally or in your mind. Someone who is truly organized will have the ability to create and adhere to systems and structures that improves efficiency and will not allow themselves to become overwhelmed or their processes to become messy.

 

I hope you can see that these skills are an integral part of success and should be woven into the tapestry of ALL of our learning. So don’t just look for “steps and processes” to bring your product to market; but do a personal audit of your soft skills and invest equal time in learning about and improving your soft skills. I guarantee it will improve your overall odds for success!

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