What do your car, your smartphone, and your microwave have in common? Simply put, each began as a mere idea.

As one of the investors on the hit ABC show “Shark Tank,” entrepreneur Mark Cuban knows what it takes to turn an idea into a successful product — and having lots of immediate cash on hand is not a necessity. That’s in part thanks to the Maker Movement, a phenomenon in which makers exchange creative ideas and innovate together.

“Do-it-yourself has always been around,” Says Cuban. However, “with social media and new platforms, makers can get together. This has become a fun way for creative people to share ideas and learn from each other.”

Getting started

A key first step for innovators is making a difficult-to-replicate product. “Too many inventors rush to patent their invention because they like the idea of having a patent. It makes them feel like they are a true inventor,” Cuban said. “The problem is that not only do they blow all their money on a patent before they know if it will sell, but they have to disclose what they are doing in the patent application.”

Once you have a novel idea, Cuban encouraged using crowdfunding websites, like Kickstarter and Indiegogo. “Importantly, do not use one of those invention companies you see advertised on TV!” he emphasized. The advantage here over relying on traditional investors is that crowdfunders “are buyers of your product who will create sales and margin dollars without taking any equity,” Cuban said.

These platforms also offer independence. One of the biggest mistakes Cuban sees innovators make when seeking investors is tailoring their projections to their investor, knowing they’ll never meet them. “You need to be brutally honest,” he said. “You don't want an investor to think you missed [your projections] six months into your partnership.”

Below are Cuban’s 5 secrets for being a successful maker:

  1. 1. Make and show a prototype to potential customers.

  2. 2. Get those prospects to commit to placing orders by putting down deposits or pre-paying.

  3. 3. Get advice on manufacturing from someone who has made comparable products. 

  4. 4. Don't over-manufacture. The goal isn't to maximize sales. To first goal is to get feedback and make product improvements.

  5. 5. Next, take the product to Kickstarter or Indiegogo, and see what kind of response you get.

Above all, Cuban said, a successful maker is “someone who has fun making stuff.”