Everyone starts a business for different reasons, whether it’s seizing an opportunity, believing they have enough experience to go it alone, or perhaps just from circumstances that lead to a new career path. Very few people actually start a business with much background on what is actually involved and simply learn along the way.
It is very easy to start a business these days, but what do you need to know as a start-up and where do you go to find out?
The most important thing anyone should do when setting up in business is to create a strong brand name/image and then protect it. We protect our homes, and our children, we have home insurance, car insurance pet insurance and business insurance… but your business insurance doesn’t cover you for identity theft. What if someone decides to set up a copycat business with the same or similar name or products? What would you do? What should you do to protect what is rightfully yours?
You can learn the hard way or the easy way. The easy way is research! Read what other people have had to do in the same line of business and what they have in place to run successfully. Access the Government information website which provides legitimate links and articles, so you know what is relevant and of course the most up to date information.
Or you can learn the hard way (like I did )! Fall victim to copyright and identity theft and then have the stress and hassle of contacting the individuals concerned and then going through the long process of Intellectual Property protection.
So what is Intellectual Property and why should you have it?
Intellectual Property (IP) is a creation, invention, design, name, symbol or image used in commerce.
My advice to anyone in business is to create a strong name and business logo and then register the name and logo as a trade mark. This prevents other people using the same business name or logo as you. As you might imagine there are many companies that will help you part with a sizeable fee for their help to get you protected, but you can do it all yourself here for a fraction of the price:
Don’t worry, there is a helpline if you have any questions to help you complete everything correctly. If I can do it then anyone can!
It took approximately 3 months to receive my registered trade mark from the Intellectual Property Office but it is worth its weight in gold! Add that precious little ® or ™ to your business branding and not only do you look professional but this also carries the legal warning to wannabe thieves that you mean business for your business!
There are different organisations you can become a member of, to copyright protect your designs, images and inventions. I belong to ACID (Anti Copying in Design) and this service provides free legal help should it be required and has been invaluable over the years. This caters more to your actual work/products/images (if you are involved in design of any nature). It also reinforces the need for a trade mark to help identify your brand.
Brand identity, brand image….. it doesn’t matter if you’re a global brand like Apple or a sole trader, I believe that trade marking your business is one of the most important steps to take in protecting your business.
By Lorraine Bostoff – Owner at Coochy Coo Nappy Cakes Ltd