The first and foremost thing you have to do before anything else is make sure your idea is new! I can’t stress this enough. There have been sooo many cases where people would even go as far as trying to patent their idea only to find out it’s already on the market and they wasted so much money for nothing.
And even if it’s not on the market (or you can’t find it on the market), it doesn’t mean it hasn’t been invented. You have to do patent research, and there are plenty of websites to help you do it for free.
100% agree with Deborah. So after you’ve done that, you’re ready to actually start developing your idea. You’ll develop your idea on paper, make sketches, create a prototype (not an expensive one at this stage). You can use CAD drawings and 3D design to showcase the functionality of the idea.
And then you’d want to protect your idea, right? So you’ll probably want to start your patent application, maybe find a company to help you license it. This is a long process but worth it depending on your invention.
Not all inventions need to be patented but you’ll have to figure out if yours does.
And don’t forget that investing time is more important than investing money. Take your time to work for your idea to become reality instead of throwing money left and right hoping someone else would take care of it. Usually people don’t have the funds to do that, but I have seen people do it.
You should start working on your idea when you’re ready to fully commit to it.