Reflect On Your Idea Carefully
The Inventive Journey Podcast for Entrepreneurs
Reflect On Your Idea Carefully
The Inventive Journey
Starting and growing a business is a journey. On The Inventive Journey, your host, Devin Miller walks with startups along their different journeys startups take to success (or failure). You also get to hear from featured guests, such as venture firms and angel investors, that provide insight on the paths to a successful inventive journey.
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reflect on it really carefully if you're not willing to if you don't love it if you wouldn't be willing to put in 10 years of your own effort at 40 to 80 hours a week getting paid nothing in addition to earning your living income if you're not willing to do that you're probably not determined enough to make it you know some people win in a year but the reality is most people most millionaires most self-made people are in their 50s before they develop the sort of self-discipline and determination so [Music] hey everyone this is devin miller here with another episode of the inventive journey i'm your host devin miller the serial entrepreneur that's uh grown several startups in the seven and eight figure businesses as well as a ceo and founder of miller ip law where he helps startups and small businesses with their patents and trademarks and if you ever need help with yours just go to strategymeeting.com and we're always here to help now today our guest on the podcast another great guest is tim green and give you a bit of a background on tim tim was a a bit of a lifelong inventor so out of high school went and worked for a living did a few things and then decided to go back to college and got a degree graduated in early 30s and then went to or went to asia for a period of time um and then parents got sick decided to come back or left or come back help with them for a period of time um then went or or wit and then uh continued on with that went back to asia i think and you'll correct me if i get it wrong and then there was a round of layoffs then decide or spent a period of time in in asia and then went to some networking events and decided he could invent some solutions for a business so there's a very quick run through and with that welcome on the podcast tim hi yeah there's there's a few things that are a little different there i didn't come to asia i hope you don't mind but i didn't come to asia until until after one of my parents had passed on i had actually decided not to come to asia after university given their health so i just stayed local thereafter i ultimately uh years later after doing working again after university i decided i would go and do my post university stuff which was come to asia and teach and i'm still here now awesome all right appreciate and i appreciate the correction on that so that definitely uh definitely step or whenever i get anything wrong definitely let me know so with that now i gave kind of the high level a quick overview but take us back in a little bit in time with being a lifelong inventor and kind of uh starting in high school where you were finished high school and went to work and then tell us how your journey went from there okay well i'll start quite a bit earlier than that only to quickly though and that is i asked my mother many years ago where when i had started basically destroying toys taking them apart seeing how they worked and her answer was as long ago as i can remember so my inventing probably started somewhere between three and six years old i'm estimating because i can't remember back much beyond that by any chance um and then um yeah no i went to university uh even even before that in in elementary and junior high school i was always interested in science and making things um then went to high school and then after that i wasn't really that that interested in university so i just went and got a a job always still inventing and then after a while i decided that there would be some advantages to getting a university education uh so then i went back and did that um but maybe jump in just real quick so between the high school and the university when you went and did or did things for a period of time what kind of jobs did you do or kind of what did you start out your kind of working life or working life doing oh it was pretty ordinary um i started as a busboy out of high school did that for a while at a restaurant and then ultimately wound up working at a factory a big industrial machine shop where they made a well head after that um i ultimately got laid off from that job that was another big layoff the entire plant was closed and then from there let's see i believe the next i went to i'm old i'm starting to forget things um i i honestly i can't remember the immediate job that followed that but i ultimately wound up going to lethbridge to university after uh after just after basically that's what i did i worked in in the factory and then after that layoff happened i just decided well i'd come to asia basically about that time or sorry go to calgary then i worked in calgary but before that so it was uh high school job university then from lethbridge to after university university in lethbridge then after that i went to calgary and just got an ordinary job again um printing safeway flyers your safeway flyers depending on which part of the u.s you're in and then got laid off of that and came to asia so now so in you and one one thing you kind of originally mentioned and then there just jumped over is that you also i think delayed asia for a period of time while you had ailing parents or why you wanted to take care of them and that kind of delayed plans is that right yeah that's right and so it was you know and i i know first of all i command you i think that you know taking care of family making sure you're there you know sometimes it can delay things or slow things down but definitely worthwhile to make sure you can be there and and help out so now you you know we're going to go to asia put that on hold for a bit of time after things settled down and you know apparent you know that that situation resolved um then he went to asia now what what drove me to asia and what did you do in asia um well i'm still doing it uh but what what brought me to asia actually was when i was in university i'm not sure about uh so you know remember i'm canadian so university is what what you would probably call college because universities actually um grant degrees so university college whatever you want to call it i always saw those posters about teaching english in asia so i thought that sounded like since i didn't yet have any special job or career path uh prepared or or or opportunities offered i decided i'd go check that out and what it allowed me to do is once i arrived here i realized that because the hours are so different from um in the u.s and in canada i could do my inventing and my licensing efforts at night after doing my sort of work a day job teaching english so that's how that went so you went to asia and you know did that and continue to do that but so when you got to asia you know first of all one question just as a kind of a side note but did you you know what which part of asia was it or which part did you go to well i originally landed in a place called xi'an you probably know the terracotta warriors the the clay the clay army um so i went there and then wasn't really satisfied with the situation because it turned that i would not be able to travel during my holidays because it's hard to travel with a billion other people also trying to travel so it wasn't quite what i expected it to be so then i went to south korea for a year and taught english there and then from there i went to i came here to japan and i've been teaching in japan ever since and that was about the time i read the four hour work week and saw something in the back that was about how to license inventions and products so that's the reason i stayed is i could make my living during the day and it wouldn't interfere with my entrepreneurial aspirations for licensing products so and i think you mentioned that you got into licensing products and in dived into that you know was that a after reading the four-hour workweek was that a successful thing was it easy to license products did you find those incredibly difficult or kind of how did that idea start to play out as you should put it into action well you know in in all honesty i never actually licensed the product um now in recent years i've done some sort of trivial licensing which which because of the sales channels hasn't resulted in in very much income but um it was challenging because it was based essentially on cold calling so if i were to do that again and i hope to it will be done much more effectively in a much more sophisticated way but yeah it was just many hours of calling reaching people finding names there's a lot of a lot of tracking down of of humans who you'd want to talk to in relevant companies and i almost became a millionaire but not quite and i realized and really gained a lot of humility that it doesn't matter even how good your products are necessarily or the opportunity it can sometimes come down to the decision or mood of one person could mean the difference between you being a millionaire or you're just being an ordinary person still trying to grind out that success so now so that kind of gives us a bit of walking through your journey and kind of where you're at now take us you know tell us about what you have going on today is still kind of doing the same thing what are the plans for you know the next six to 12 months or kind of how are things continuing to evolve well they have evolved because essentially um i was doing everything i described and i sort of put that on the back burner and i actually worked for and as sort of as a an intern for an amazon startup and that give did give me an opportunity to uh learn about sourcing products from china and how that process works and some of the some of the products that are on sale on amazon through that company are still on sale but their their sales volume isn't all that significant so i thought i'd learned everything i could from that experience and then i moved on and was gearing up to re-license but with more sophistication and social media sort of approaches added in uh when covid hit and then i started to look at uh just just learn about zoom networking and that and what came up soon after about six months about six months ago really when it crystallized was okay everything's going well i'm growing my network i find there's even an even greater need for businesses needing the sort of creativity i have so now what i'm doing is i'm inventing business solutions and the biggest struggle not so much for myself but for my my clients is well so which industry do you work in it's like i'm in taking my inventive creativity and my education um my neuroscience and psychology education as well as a lifetime of learning how to learn and teach and now i'm saying well hey it doesn't matter what your business is i've helped lawyers i've helped contractors i've helped other consultants so essentially my expertise in is in inventing solutions so that's my that's what if you had to say a business it might be more akin to a business strategist or business operations but that's still kind of narrow as to what i do it's like tell me what you want to level up uh change or overcome and i will give you a straight answer whether i can help you or not but so far i'm batting in the probably the high 90s on coming up coming up with immediately actionable solutions for people no and i think that that definitely makes or makes sense and it sounds like an interesting area to be in now one question kind of to follow up on that just a bit is you know see while i get you know there are things that if you were to step back or have a third party or something that you know had gone through it or had experience in it definitely can add value but how do you find your how do you get businesses to realize they need your services right because that can sometimes be a bit of a half a struggle or businesses don't realize they need your services or aren't quite sure certain um what you know what you do than is having to do that educational aspect so how do you kind of find your clients or find people that and help them to understand what the value you add and what services you offer right well i'm still in that process um essentially what i've done is i've specifically focused on linkedin because it's more business aligned and i've you know i've probably grown myself uh organically via linkedin maybe gained about 1200 new connections and unlike people who do the linkedin open networking where they just accept anybody virtually every connection i have has either approached me specifically through some of the social the social media marketing i'm doing on linkedin or i have approached them as they have responded to either my engagement or my articles and i write about three articles a week so it's all been sort of high engagement relevant to establish my expertise because i've essentially invented my my industry and position oh cool so and you touched on in just a bit you know maybe just help us you know dive into a bit more of you know give us an idea six next six to twelve months you've talked a little bit about you know there's a bit of shift with covet going online doing you know a lot of linkedin kind of growing that organically you know what is the next kind of six to twelve months look like as you continue to grow things um it looks largely the same there's going to be a lot more experimentation i'm getting a lot of engagement out of that three articles a week because it's three articles a week of real value right it isn't like oh well okay you're just pitching your product it's like my model is if if somebody interacts with my product with my my linkedin posts or whatever else if they never interact with me again they still walk away with value if that makes sense so the point is i don't want to say well here's part of the picture it's always part of the picture inevitably but here is something which if you do nothing else with me just read the article and apply it you will see that what my my my advice my models actually work of course you can go deeper and that's what i'm using to hope to draw more clients that way no and i get that and it's almost kind of the give give get type of a model where hey we're gonna i'm gonna give you some value i'm gonna give you some information that's helpful and then you know once you give that they understand that you can provide that value can be helpful then they'll you know then you kind of get that back in in return and clients and whatnot so i think that's definitely a great model to structure on so well now as we you know as we start to wrap up on the podcast i always have two questions i asked towards the end so we'll jump to those now so the first question i ask is along your journey what was the worst business decision you ever made and what did you learn from it worst business decision was staying with a mentor who um didn't really have anything left to teach me and i don't mean that in in an egocentric way it's just i kept holding on saying there's just one more thing i don't quite know and ultimately i realized that i was paying for a membership um and i was you know contacting them every six months to watch a video and say yeah i like it or no i don't and i often and then i ultimately recognize when i tried to give them feedback as to what i think would help me more as their student but also all their other students more that they just weren't interested so i would say mainly if something isn't working after a year and i mean a year of you committing to it not a year of you being lazy but 40 80 hours a week of you really working hard at it if it's not working that would be a time to either challenge your mentor or change mentors or go out on your own because you know if you're not getting extra results for the extra effort and and being a good student then maybe you need to move on to something bigger or more involved yourself yeah and i think that you know both of it it could be one that the program may just be not a good program or two it can be or whatever you're doing the idea the program the invention the business or just maybe it's not a good fit for you right in the sense i think that some programs everybody has different ways of learning everybody has different styles some things resonate well other things don't for me i like to as an example a lot of my i like to listen to podcasts and you know have this podcast but i like to listen to a lot of other podcasts because the way hey if i'm doing other things or i'm out jogging or running it's a way for me to hear what others are doing get ideas for the industry and yet you know me sit down and kind of watch a video course and do nothing else i would get bored and start you know my mind would start to wander i would start to wanted to be doing other things and so i think that you know figuring out what works with you but giving it as you said kind of that year a a good you know trial period and trying it and giving it an earnest value i think is is definitely something to learn from so the second question i always ask is you know you know if you're talking to someone that's just getting to a startup or a small business would be the one piece of advice you give them i would say reflect on it really carefully if you're not willing to if you don't love it if you wouldn't be willing to put in 10 years of your own effort at 40 to 80 hours a week getting paid nothing in addition to earning your living income if you're not willing to do that you're probably not determined enough to make it you know some people win in a year but the reality is most people most millionaires most self-made people are in their 50s before they develop the sort of self-discipline and determination so if you're not willing to go five i was sure i was going to be rich in one year it's like i know my inventions are awesome how could they not make me a millionaire in the first year you know after doing that for 10 years i realized i kind of got over myself and that the only reason i can keep going is because i love it that much that's the only thing that's going to carry you through is you have to really want it has to be something you love no i agree and i think that you know when you're looking at i almost every entrepreneur when you have that idea that you get excited about and you know you decide that that's what i'm going to do everybody always thinks they're going to be rich just right out of the bat it's going to be because you i think to in fairness you watch the movies you read the books and you always kind of get the highlight reels right you get the overnight success when it's really overnight success 10 or 20 years in the making type of a thing but you only hear that overnight success that there's a coleman really a culmination of a lot of things so i think that having that grit and determination and actually putting the time and effort to getting that you know willing to sacrifice a lot put in a lot of extra time is the way that 99 of people get there well as we were wrapping up the the normal episode we also were just as a heads up to the listeners we're doing the bonus question where we get a chat a little about intellectual property and uh and here um you're or flip the tables and uh you tim you'll get asked your number one intellectual property question but before as we wrap up the normal episode um if people uh first of all thank you tim for coming on now for all of you that are listeners um if you have your own journey to tell um feel free to go to inventiveguest.com and apply to be on the podcast we would love to share your journeys also if you're listening one make sure to click subscribe so you know when all of our awesome episodes come out and two leave us a review so new people can find us last but not least if you ever need help with your patents trademarks or anything else reach out to us at miller ip law by going to strategymeeting.com so with that as we've now wrapped up would be the quote unquote normal episode or the typical episode we jump to you know we flip the tables you get asked a bonus question which is what is your number one intellectual property question so with that i'll turn it over you to do you get you could ask me the question i have to i get a signal okay okay so what beyond uh a provisional patent would you recommend that people do so oftentimes i need to make disclosure of something i have some solar products so far i've mainly been told that you need to you should put a provisional patent on anything you wish to disclose what beyond the provisional patent could somebody do that's cost effective other than doing the provisional patent before going forward with disclosure to an organization yeah i mean there's a few things and you know it's a bit of a broad question of what you can do and as with all attorneys you're going to say well it depends and it depends on the circumstance i'll give you a few kind of thoughts or ideas one is there's typically you know first thing i would always do is a general level of protection for any business or ideas i would get an llc or a business formation really the reason is not necessarily protect your idea but to protect you personally is in the sense that you don't want people to come after your personal assets or come after your life savings or your house or your cars or anything of that so an llc or a business for you know forming a business kind of gives you that initial protection so that's kind of protecting you individually as opposed to oh go ahead is that also true because in this case i'm talking about my inventions submitting them to large organizations and not wanting to have them stolen so is it also true that in that case i should make sure i have an llc even though i would be the licensor and they would be the licensee i would generally and it's always hard to give in exactly without diving much more into the details than the answer lends us to but yes generally it's not necessarily going to give you more of protection on the invention as far as somebody copying it or otherwise taking it that ellison won't do that but what it would do is let's say you have what you think is a great invention you go shopping around and all of a sudden somebody says we've already patented that or we already know something else or somebody else sees what you're coming along and they say you're infringing our patent you're infringing our intellectual property they file a loss or anything else then it protects you so that's more of the motivation is less on the protecting the invention for as you go out and doing it but more protecting yourself such that if somebody else would come along and say that infringes their intellectual property okay but the other the other couple things you know so i would say probably on my list or llc is the first thing i would do strength of you know how much you can protect an invention patent is going to be probably your best one provisional patent and then a non-provisional patent application to follow on the other things you can do is you know an nda you can oftentimes a non-disclosure agreement that is going to protect that hey if i disclose disclose confidential information from you you're required to keep it confidential you also can't just go and take what i disclose from you and do that they're not as strong as a patent they're workarounds there's there's i don't know loopholes but there are ways that they're not as as a strong position but they're i think they're worthwhile to get in is to kind of bolster that position a lot of times for general people a lot of times you can get a reasonably boilerplate nda that covers most circumstances so you're not having to have a specific one every time but i would definitely recommend that the other ones are kind of more on the employee side so one of the other things that you don't necessarily think of when you're doing an invention is who owns it meaning hey let's say i go out and i have an employees do it you know do the work and create it i hire them or it's an independent contractor where i go out and hire someone else to help develop it and then you think well i paid them obviously i own it that's not often the case unless you have agreements in place and that can be usually for an independent contractor it's an independent contract agreement you have to line out or layout in an agreement hey if i'm paying you i own i maintain the ownership you have a duty to assign it over to me if you don't a lot of times they maintain ownership and it can create an issue later on down the road and that's with an independent contractor if you're hiring on employees and they're actually employees of the company it's a little bit better but you'll still want to either an employment agreement you can do er put it in as part of the employment agreement or you can do what's called a ciaa agreement which is a confidentiality um an assignment agreement i can't i always forget with the highest information i can't remember what the iowa stands for but that one's going to be another agreement that you can then be able to offer so that you protect it that way as far as going out to the public really you know nda's going to do it to show other people if you're trying to license it patent applicator a provisional or non-provisional patent application and then the general thought or idea is judge the part you know the best way to protect your invention is to understand who the party is that you're telling you're disclosing it to right meaning it's if you have to go out and enforce an nda you have to do a patent apple area go out and enforce your patent it's going to be cost it's going to be costly and take you time and effort away from the business and so the best thing is to while you can have those in place is to just judge the party do your homework on them understand what what they you know who what have they done deals before how successful do they have people that you know talk with other people who worked with have they have they liked working with them have they not liked working with them and kind of get a gauge or a feel for the parties you're disclosing if you don't feel comfortable and they're not a good party don't go tell them your invention or don't trying to approach them and on the other hand if they're going to be a great party that's honestly going to be your best protection so those are a few thoughts and ideas and i could go on a lot longer but we'll wrap it up for there to or for the question to your answer to your question um if you or anybody else has any other questions about intellectual property as i mentioned before feel free to go to strategymeeting.com grab some time with us to chat and i'm always happy to discuss things in the great much greater detail and with that we'll wrap up thank you again tim for coming on it's been a fun it's been a pleasure um oh one thing i i didn't ask and i should have and i usually asked at the beginning and i got so excited to get to the intellectual property question that i forgot to ask you if people want to reach out to you they want to find out more they want to be a client a customer an investor an employee their next best friend any or all of the above what's the best way to connect up the and reach out and find out more well the easiest one to remember is just solutionshyphenmastery.com and they should actually put that into the search bar rather than the search engine because that will actually just point to my linkedin so they can go tim green or tim b green on linkedin or timbergreen.com they will all link directly to my linkedin and then we can chat there and set up a zoom one to one all right well i definitely encourage people to check or check your tim's linkedin profile and use the link that he provided find out more and definitely if if he can support and help your business sounds like he's he's a great con or you can provide some great consult and great and their ideas and inventions so with that we'll wrap up the podcast on which the next leg of your journey even better than the last well thank you very much and you too take care you