Idea to Invention by Patricia Nolan-Brown

Lucia A Worthington

In her new book, Idea to Invention, Nolan-Brown tells us – systematically – how to get from an idea to the invention and design stage. She then tells us how to secure a new product with a patent, and invites the reader to consider options on how to bring it to market by discussing the advantages of licensing it to a producer or a retailer.

The author used her first successful launch to continue with other ideas. Once she knew the mechanics of bringing ideas and inventions to market, she was off to many more successes, which she details in this book.

“Idea to Invention: What You Need to Know to Cash In on Your Inspiration” targets creative people with an entrepreneurial spirit and is upbeat with practical real world tips. The first half of the book focuses on personality characteristics of inventors, such as creativity, self-confidence, perseverance and the necessary endurance required to lead to a successful launch. Although written in a positive up-beat tone, this section can become tiresome for those who do not need the extra cheerleading the author is offering.

The second half of the book gets into practical advice on protecting the inventions with Non-Disclosure Agreements, patent attorneys, Provisional Patent Applications and trademarks. The reader is given a good first introduction into some of the legal issues that surround protecting inventions in easy-to-understand language. A few links to government websites are suggested, but the information to resources is scattered and would benefit from a clear resource section and a substantive suggested reading list.

There is a good general overview and many practical tips on using social media. Advice on establishing a brand or to reach a distribution channel or retail base is given at the end. Here again, a more substantial resource list would help and add legitimacy to her narrative.

The book is weak in giving solid business advice. The author does not show a strong appreciation or value for a business plan, a management system or financials. Her personal style and method was successful for her. She simply grew her business by trial and error. But, the book would benefit by showing the value of learning specific business skills such as how to design a marketing strategy. She incorrectly uses some business terms. For example she lumps “promotion strategy” into “advertising.”

The book would benefit by including a glossary of terms to guide the reader. Most concepts are described in general terms that border on fluffy. The book can be improved with more specific nuts and bolts information, additional resource information and a list of realistic caveats and pitfalls to avoid.

Lucia Worthington teaches business management at Clark College and strategic entrepreneurship at Portland State University. To recommend a book for review, email

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