So, you have a great business idea. Great! What now?
Below are 9 steps that will help guide your idea from light bulbs to a profitable business.
Step 1: Identify a Brand Name
Branding is important and any new idea needs a name. There are many details that come into play when choosing a brand name. Whether you are working with a marketing firm or you have a list of potential names on a napkin, it is important to consider the legal implications of choosing a name. Brand names are trademarks. The use of a trademark has legal implications that can enhance or hurt your business.
Some names are better than others. Choosing a strong, distinctive trademark will help you create a brand that really makes your idea shine. It is important to avoid descriptive and generic trademarks. The strongest trademarks are fanciful or arbitrary. Apple is a very strong trademark for the sale of computers but Apple is a terrible trademark for the sale of apples.
Many people think their trademark should describe their product or service. This is not necessarily true. While your brand should represent the tone you intend to portray in business, choosing a descriptive trademark is not the best approach in the long run.
Step 2: Identify a Domain name
Your idea needs a website. Whether you are selling products online or you will use your website to help get the word out about your services, your website is an important aspect of your marketing and business plans. Finding the right domain name is an important part of this process. Do your research and see what relevant domain names are available.
The law also provides protections for trademark owners. Anti-cybersquatting laws provide an opportunity for trademark owners to protect their rights online. Cybersquatting occurs where one registers a domain name containing the trademark of another with the intent to profit from the sale or use of that domain name. Cybersquatting can be devastating to a business. Cybersquatters can divert valuable traffic and, in turn, sales, from a business through the use of the cybersquatted domain name.
Step 3: Obtain a Trademark Clearance
You picked a name you love and you’ve found a domain name that is perfect. Now it is time to take this step which many entrepreneurs skip or put off only to suffer devastating consequences in the future. Obtaining a trademark clearance is an affordable and essential action in the start-up process. A trademark attorney will perform a trademark search and provide you with a clearance opinion. In the opinion, the attorney will include results of their search that they consider relevant to your ability to use and register your trademark.
Some things that trademark attorneys consider include whether there are any registered trademarks that would hinder your use and registration. They will provide you with an opinion as to whether consumers would likely be confused by the existence of your trademark and the prior mark. The attorney will also give you their opinion about any genericness or descriptiveness concerns they anticipate.
Step 4: File a Business Entity
Creating a business entity will help you organize and protect your business. There are many different entity types and structures to choose from. The best type of entity for you depends on the nature of your business and your goals. A business attorney can help explain your options and help you choose the most appropriate one. Business entities are valuable because they help shield owners from personal liability and can help improve the tax implications of bringing your ideas to life.
Step 5: File for a Trademark Registration
Obtaining a trademark registration is a powerful asset for your business and not something that should be overlooked or put off for the future. After you have a business entity and a trademark clearance, it is important to file an application for registration for your trademark. You will want to make sure that not too much time has passed since you received a trademark clearance as it may be inaccurate as to any subsequent filings or trademark use by third parties. The United States Patent and Trademark Office handles all trademark applications for registration. While it is not absolutely required, you may want to hire a trademark attorney to help you prepare and file your application.
Step 6: Open a Bank Account
It is important to keep business and personal expenses separate from one another. Opening a new bank account is a great way to avoid confusion and help make tax filing easier. You may want to consider opening an account at a bank other than the one you use for personal finances just to keep everything separated and easy.
Step 7: Get Insurance
Business insurance can help keep you out of trouble and assist in the event your business encounters problems. Ask around to learn about your options. The type of insurance you purchase depends greatly on the type of business you are creating. Important questions maybe whether you are offering services that put people in harm’s way, sell products to a potentially vulnerable customer base or invite people to your place of business to purchase or receive services. A reputable insurance agency can help you determine the best insurance for your business.
Step 8: Get Your Contracts in Order
Having agreements that are drafted with your business goals in mind can help you avoid costly litigation and difficulties in business relationships in the long run. A good attorney will help you draft contracts that are reasonable and protect both your business and your relationships.
Step 9: Get Your IP in order
Many companies do not realize that their intellectual property (IP) rights can often be their most valuable asset. Few startups have portfolios of real property or vast quantities of retail inventory and other physical assets. What startups usually have are ideas, and ideas are valuable if they are properly protected. If you have a well-established business, you might not be aware of the value of the IP you currently own. Having an audit performed by an IP attorney can help make you aware of the value you have, find holes in your protection, and create a plan for the future.
There are five main types of intellectual property rights:
- Trade Secrets
- Internet Domain Names
- Copyrights and
If you have questions about your IP inventory or how to monetize your IP assets, please reach out to us and have us help you realize your business’s potential.
There are a lot of things that business owners need to consider. These are some major issues we help people deal with so that they can focus on running and growing their business. This is our business and we love what we do. Please contact us if you have any questions or if you need a consultation. We want to help you succeed!