Innovating as a Small Business
Why is big business dominating tech innovation?
It’s not news that small businesses are making up a smaller fraction of technology creation, according to the statistics of the USPTO. Past the year 2000, there had been a significant shift towards large corporations, and it steadily dwindles by the year as corporations take up patent registrations.
One could only assume that COVID 19 is creating an even bigger hurdle towards small businesses contributing to technology. There are still some promising innovations emerging with startups, like the various cost-efficient medical inventions popping up in response to coronavirus.
The Cost of Patenting
Some critics may argue that the cost of patenting can be a big barrier for small businesses to claim their ideas. This is why independent inventors or small companies are contracting invention consultants to get through the process.
It doesn’t help that small businesses lack the protection of their intellectual property, or have a delay in registration. This can slow down profits, and sometimes lets them get outweighed by tech giants in the same field.
Building a Business Around Innovation
Aside from small businesses making up a smaller portion of private businesses, most of them take up niches with little need or drive for innovation. The redeeming bit about this side of the economy is that there are a bit more startups that have their whole business model built around patented ideas.
Innovation doesn’t necessarily have to be a complicated process with dreams of grandeur. As a small business, it’s important to be pragmatic & straightforward with inventions and how they will be used. It’s also important to reach out for collaboration or funding by those that have deeper roots in the industry.
While it’s the rarer form of innovation, the most apparent success stores from small businesses going big are ideas that disrupt the market. This means something that forces the market to go in a different direction, affecting both large corporations and tiny startups.
The most recent examples I can personally pinpoint are the cryptocurrency startups, and especially the likes of Ethereum or Tron. Instead of being endowed with funding from the start, their extreme ideas propelled them into the levels of wealth they now have.
A Turning Point For Small Businesses
While the numbers are still in favor of large enterprises, the game may be changing quickly now that younger generations are shifting towards small, independent companies. Especially considering the unstable employment situations with Gen Y & Z, you see more people reducing their dependence on corporate life.
Small businesses have the advantage of being quite flexible from the start and having razor-sharp focus within their niches. They also miss the corporate structure that creates gaps for connection between all levels of employees.
The Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR), a division of Small Business Administration (SBA), is leaving money on the table for small innovative companies to take if they have the drive to do so. There are several government agencies offering grants for innovators, often amounting to five or six-figure sums.
While the amount of funding from the federal government would make the big players scoff, a small team with a brilliant idea could do quite a lot with it.
The point being, there is room for small companies to create patented technology, but it often requires staying within a narrow niche, having disruptive ideas, and taking advantage of any grants that happen to be available. You also see small companies with amazing inventions, with large companies later buying them up for generous amounts.
The independent innovator is at the heart of invention history, and while modern efficiency stems mostly from corporations with deep pockets, it is still possible to make it with everything available.