For many, January is the month of making and breaking resolutions for the new year. For the Inventor's Club, it was a time to make smart goals for inventions and businesses.
The Inventor's Club usually meets the fourth Wednesday of the month, as a way to help people who want to invent something, people who already have invented something and everyone in between those steps.
"There's a lot of opportunity to learn what to do and what not to do if you want to invent a project," Lou Bassler, owner of Bassler/Williamsport Pattern Works, 430 South Alley, Montoursville, said. The company creates product designs and prototypes.
Katie Bell, innovation and market development consultant at IMC Inc., gave five steps on how to set goals for the year ahead. The first step included taking a step back and reflecting on went well and not so well.
She invited the group to write down accomplishments, connections, activities and progress from the past year. Some ventured their successes.
Rick Wyatt, of Williamsport, invented a device called the SpitStopper, which helps keep birthday cakes clean of germs after the candles are blown out. The inspiration came to him from all of the times he saw people accidentally spitting on birthday cakes, which then had to be passed around to guests.
His success for 2012 came from a new design of the product which featured only two pieces instead of eight, which saved money, and making a commercial for it.
The club helped him get his patent and his provisional patent.
The next step included making "S.M.A.R.T." goals, which meant smart, measurable, attainable, realistic and timely goals.
"Be smart with your goals," Bell said.
Making a goal of starting a business is difficult to achieve because it is vague about what kind of business and when the business will open. Bell said a better goal would be starting a coffee shop in Williamsport by Dec. 31, 2013.
"Less is more," she said. "Think of two to four goals."
The next step she gave was doing research, which included industry research with trade shows and online groups, location research with newspapers and clubs customer research and partner research.
Bassler said research matters to make sure the product has not been patented yet.
"Not too many years ago, you had to get a lawyer," he said. "You can look online to see if someone already made the product."
After making the goals, the fourth step include developing them further in order to accomplish the goals.
Finally, Bell said it is important to make sure everything makes sense.
"For example, if you wanted to take your prototype to a trade show in February, goal, a task would be getting the prototype made by that goal," she said. "Well, if you're just starting the process of having someone create your prototype and they tell you it's going to take three months to design and build your prototype, you need to realign that specific goal and task. Maybe you still go to the trade show in February but wait until next year's show to take the prototype."
Bell invited the group to return to future meetings and discuss their progress on their goals as a way to encourage them to continue.
The club will celebrate its third year of operation in February. It began as a result of the inventors hosting a standing room only Inventor's Exchange event as a way to bring them together.
The Williamsport Inventor's Club recently became the only registered member of the United Inventors Association of America, which provides educational resources to the inventing community.
The membership of the association gives access to speakers, inventor trade show information, speaking engagements, inventing programs and inventor help information.
For more information about the Inventor's Club, call 329-3200 ext. 8083 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.