Got a great business idea?
Want to know how to protect it?
For some time now, you have been thinking about your business idea, but you are worried about telling people. You think it is such a good idea, perhaps even a million dollar idea, you are worried about people stealing it. What if your competition beat you to the market with your new product idea.
You have a problem. If you don’t reveal it, you will not be able to get financing and business loans for your startups, nor attract investors. You can’t start a new business in secret. So how do you get protection for your intellectual property and trade secrets?
Relax your idea is already “out there,” but that does not mean you cannot succeed greatly. Think about this, before Starbucks there were millions of coffee shops, and before Amazon, there were thousands of booksellers. These successful companies took these established business models and made them better and succeeded wildly.
You’ve worked hard to build a name for your business. Protect it.
There is no need to be overly protective of your business idea, just be prudent and use your common sense. Even if you share your business idea and someone steals your idea and starts a company, your firm will be different. Every individual is unique just as is every company.
Your business idea is just one part of your startup, the execution, product, and service are what makes a company innovative and viable.
It is important to get guidance from other entrepreneurs on your startup journey. So you will need to talk about your product idea and concept. They are sure to ask lots of questions to determine the best way to advise you on how to proceed. It is smart to open up to these professionals and let them help you on your entrepreneurial journey.
Investors and Partners
If you seek venture capital or partners, you will need to share the details of your business idea. DO NOT ask them to sign a non-disclosure statement this is sure to kill the deal. The reason they won’t sign it is that they may have heard of a similar idea to yours from another startup and don’t want the risk of future legal action. Most investors are in the business of investing, not starting businesses. Your ideas are usually safe there.
Before meeting with consultants, potential investors or anyone else do your due diligence about this person. Have they had prior disputes, disagreements or lawsuits with other entrepreneurs and inventors?
Be sure to keep notes of all meetings and discussions. These written records will be helpful in clarifying any misunderstandings and protect your idea. Make a log of your meetings, telephone calls, and conversations.
Lastly, use your gut to decide if trusting this person with your new business idea is wise or not
However, do have consultants, managers, and employees that you select to sign a non-compete agreement. This contract will stop them from starting a competitive business. Utilize work-for-hire contracts that specify all the work done by outside individuals remains your intellectual property.
For patentable ideas, you can file a provisional patent application. Once issued, a provisional patent protects your idea for up to a year. Allowing you sufficient time to develop prototypes and market your new product.
Trademarks and Copyrights
Register your trademark, company name, and branding slogans. As a startup entrepreneur, you must master the skill of how to measure and calculate risk. This important decision-making process will be strengthened as you decide where and when to talk about your business start-upp.