With all eyes on The Apprentice as it enters the later stages of the competition, many people will be thinking about building their own start-up and conquering the business world. Some research in fact suggests that upwards of 80% of Brits are considering setting up their own business while the number of start-ups in the UK continues to grow – there were 660,000 in 2016 alone.
Is pitching for investment really like what we see on The Apprentice and Dragons Den however, and what can entrepreneurs do to make their pitch stand-out and attract capital?
One thing that really can set a pitch apart is a good understanding of the value of the innovation that underscores a new business or enterprise. This is where intellectual property rights (IP) come in.
When starting a business there are many factors to consider, from branding and target markets to appointing suitable people. Another key part of the jigsaw is IP protection.
Ensuring IP rights are in place early on helps define a clear business strategy and will prevent headaches further down the line. Securing your IP position will protect against competitors copying your idea while also helping to ensure that you don't inadvertently infringe someone else's IP.
Developing a robust IP strategy does not need to be complicated.
Your ideas are the lifeblood of your new business so investing time and money in a strong IP strategy as early as possible is crucial.
Identifying which IP to protect can be a challenge. Every business that uses a name, brand or logo however should be considering trade mark protection.
Trademarks are widely used to help protect the identities and values of countless products and companies in every conceivable sector of the economy.
Trademarks define a business in the public space, giving credibility to its brands, adding to the bottom line and embodying its reputation.
Thought will have to be given as to what you want your trademark to say about your business and it can be made protectable and enforceable while carving out its own space within your sector.
Businesses developing products with unique designs should also be protecting products with registered design rights while, for those businesses developing innovative new products or processes, patent protection may be the route to go down.
For particularly inventive products, where there may not be a great deal of prior art (pre-existing knowledge that might limit the scope of a patent in a more established industry), well-drafted patents could potentially allow for broad protection covering not only the patent owner's business but also valid, relevant monopolies in ancillary, non-competing industries.
Each start-up will have its own unique IP.
Identifying and protecting that IP will lock in the value of what makes a business unique, create a barrier to entry for potential competitors while also giving investors something real to invest in, rather than just a good idea.
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