As the creator of a new idea, business model, or invention, you may have been advised to apply for a patent. However, there's a lot of conflicting information out there about patents, what they can do for you, and how they work.
Entrepreneur asks the same question: is it really worth your time and money to apply for a patent? They look at it from one angle, viewing a patent as a potentially important tool in an arsenal that can be used to establish business success. They don't, however, believe it to be the only tool or even the most vital one.
In many cases, filing for a patent may not actually be the best option. For example, only the most solid of business models or ideas will actually benefit from having patent protection. Otherwise, you might just be spending money trying to secure something that will change in the near future anyway.
You should also do your research before you even consider applying. Make sure your idea doesn't infringe on a patent that's already in existence. Know whether or not your market is large enough to make a patent viable. Develop prototypes for what you intend to patent so that you understand how the near-final product will likely function.
Essentially, your idea should be well-developed by the time you apply for a patent, and not in the early stages of planning. If you believe that you have reached a point where a patent would be more beneficial to you than not, you may then wish to look into the application process.