The Czech inventor Stanley Povoda, nicknamed 'The Robot Man' poses with his iron robot family at his home in Prague, Czech Republic.

Jarmila Kovarikova/isifa/Getty Images

Brilliant ideas strike people all the time. Perhaps you've been inspired at some point with the notion for an innovative product or process.

It doesn't have to be the cure for cancer. Maybe it's a device that makes for easier clean-up after Fido; or a better way to re-seal opened potato-chip bags.

Inventors have served to power human progress in ways big and small ever since our anthropoid ancestors stood upright and began making tools. But it takes more than just some clever firing of the brain circuits to turn an invention idea into a working, tangible product. And then it takes even more work to develop it into a mass-market phenomenon that can change people's lives and make the inventor rich as Midas.

This article offers a brief look at the labor-intensive, potentially lucrative process of bringing an invention to market. The obstacles inventors must hurdle to come up with a good idea, legally protect it and entice people to buy it are tremendous.

But the monetary and psychological rewards, if you're successful, can make all the hassle seem in retrospect like a no-brainer. What's more, you needn't be a super genius: Click to the next page to learn the real deal about the invention process.