How to Turn Your Ideas Into Recurring Revenue, with Stephen Key

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“To build income you can hustle, but to build wealth you need to build something that doesn’t require your hands.”

That’s what this week’s guest told me, and then walked me down an interesting path in building that elusive “hands-free” business. His angle?

Product licensing.

Product licensing is essentially selling your ideas to larger companies for a percentage of future sales. You don’t have to worry about the design, manufacturing, marketing, distribution, or anything outside an initial pitch and perhaps a prototype.

Stephen Key is a master of this and has been doing it decades. He’s the author of One Simple Idea, the bestselling licensing book, and the founder of InventRight.

In this conversation, Stephen shares how you can get started in product licensing without any big upfront investment, how to protect your intellectual property without a patent, and how to get big companies to take you seriously.

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Tune in to Learn

  • Why Stephen believes this is the best time in history to get into product licensing.
  • How to study the market and find opportunities for innovation in a matter of hours.
  • How to protect your intellectual property for as little as $65.
  • How to identify “inventory-friendly” companies and reach decision makers.
  • How to create a 1-page “sell sheet.”
  • The typical royalty rate you should aim to negotiate for.
  • Stephen’s “what if?” game for generating new product ideas.
  • The advantages of product licensing over the Amazon FBA private labeling model.
  • Stephen’s #1 tip for Side Hustle Nation.

Links and Resources

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Download the Free PDF Highlight Reel

Inside you'll find all of Stephen's top tips to start making money with product licensing.

Where should I send Stephen's top tips from this episode?

I'll also send you my best side hustle tips and weekly-ish newsletter.
Opt-out anytime.

Contest! Win a free copy of Stephen’s book, One Simple Idea, by commenting with your top takeaway from the episode below. [Contest Closed].

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Nick Loper

About the Author

Nick Loper is a side hustle expert who loves helping people earn more money and start businesses they care about. He hosts the award-winning Side Hustle Show, where he's interviewed over 500 successful entrepreneurs, and is the bestselling author of Buy Buttons, The Side Hustle, and $1,000 100 Ways.

His work has been featured in The New York Times, Entrepreneur, Forbes, TIME, Newsweek, Business Insider, MSN, Yahoo Finance, The Los Angeles Times, The San Francisco Chronicle, The Financial Times, Bankrate, Hubspot, Ahrefs, Shopify, Investopedia, VICE, Vox, Mashable, ChooseFI, Bigger Pockets, The Penny Hoarder, GoBankingRates, and more.

32 thoughts on “How to Turn Your Ideas Into Recurring Revenue, with Stephen Key”

  1. My top take away was the fact that you can make a prototype with little to nothing. Stephen said he did his prototype at Kinkos, I’m baffled. I loved this episode, hoping for more!

  2. As a mom, I’m always thinking of ways a product can improve and often frustrated with the current offerings. I never realized how possible it is to offer up those changes myself and profit from them! Thanks for the insight!

  3. What a great episode! There were several things that really stood out to me including the fact that you don’t have to have a patent already in place and that there are companies out there who really want your ideas! I guess I pictured it more as a never ending line of doors slamming in your face.

  4. My top take away from this podcast was to keep asking what if and how to keep asking questions to make your product unique. Great episode thanks side hustle nation ✌❤

  5. So much great info in this show. My top takeaway is that mid-size & boutique companies are really the doors you want knock on. It is so encouraging that these firms are really open to ideas and with a lot less time-to-action & barriers involved. Also, Stephen’s advice about connecting with some one who is already doing it and really absorbing that knowledge, this is invaluable!

  6. My takeaway was that you can, but don’t need to, protect your idea for as little as $65. I also liked how to make contact with the right person. I can’t tell you how many ideas I have had that someone developed years later. Argh.

  7. Sooo many takeaways! My biggest was that I don’t need to create the physical item, just a 3D image on a sales sheet. That was a huge barrier to me even considering this as a side hustle. Great episode!

  8. My top takeaway from this episode is that it’s a lot easier to get started than you would think.

    I have had this idea for a product that I have been telling family about for at least 5 years now. It’s very simple but noone has made it, and I feel like it would be beneficial to the crowd I want to distribute it to.

    The one problem I’ve always had is getting started, because it always seemed very overwhelming. I felt like I would need to sketch out the idea, create a prototype, get a patent, find a manufacturer, and then try to sell it door to door.

    Stephen has now shown me that I can skip most of those hurdles that I can’t do or am just not skilled at. With his method of licensing, I can just work on what I want to do and that”s the idea creation, then let the companies who already have an established audience take care of the rest.

    This podcast episode has brought new life back into my idea and now I’m going to try to implement these strategies. I’ve been concentrating on other side hustles so will really need to dedicate some time to make this happen, but the rewards could be huge.

    Thanks Stephen for all the wonderful insight, and as always thank you Nick for getting such wonderful guests on your show. Cheers!

  9. I absolutely love this episode. I wish I could have researched this a long time ago as I use to keep a list of things I thought could be better but didn’t find out how to get the improvements made and submitted or who to contact. I love the fact the people are willing to share what they know so that others can prosper as well. I will take action from now on with any ideas I think of. I also like how he taps into the kid within in order to come up with new ideas.

  10. I didn’t recognize the guest’s name – but I knew the book title! I bought it when it first came out with the intent to read it right away and somehow it ended up at the bottom of my stack and then put on my shelf. Unread. I wonder how much further along I’d be if I’d read it when I bought it? I won’t make that mistake again — it’s off the shelf and back in my hands!

  11. Although creativity fuels this business, the secret weapon is research. You have to research other patents, what has been done before, how to make it new, research potential companies, who will give you a fair deal (i.e. research complaints), and, in general, research yourself. What is your niche? What do you know?

  12. What a great episode!! Lots of detail and guidance. Thank you!! Ideas are always floating in and out but never realised how i can use them without having to manufacture myself (such a daunting thought). I too was worried about idea theft. Patent creation without an attorney is also possible. Way back when i learned it was about $500 to submit a patent application. Today im not certain how much it is, but if you do your research and learn how to build your claims, it doesnt have to cost an arm and a leg by hiring an attorney.

  13. This was a great episode. My wife came to me this morning with a really good idea for a new product. I literally had just listened to this episode yesterday and now we’re going to listen again this weekend and map out what we should do to move forward based on the advice from Stephen. Thank you!

  14. My top takeaway was finding out about Google Patents, something I had never even heard of before. So I learned how to search for prior patents and ideas.

  15. Loved this episode! Nick, you ask great questions. My top takeaways were iteration over invention and focusing on mid-size companies.

  16. My leading eliminate was that you can make a prototype with little to absolutely nothing. Stephen spokened he did his prototype at Kinkos, I’m baffled. I enjoyed this episode, wishing for more!

  17. Top take-away: Creativity is a muscle that you can develop! Product licensing is a way to get paid for your muscles (aka, creativity)!

  18. Nick,
    Thank you for reintroducing us to this great idea and Stephen. Working on a couple of ideas right now with some licensing potential.


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