Tag Archive for 'Intellectual property'

Four IP questions to tell if you get it

One of the most interesting aspects of the marketplace is the evolution of how businesses leverage assets. For most of history, business leverage came from these three categories in this order:

1. Muscle power (human or animal);

2. Tangible stuff (raw material, inventory, tools, etc.);

3. Information (intellectual property, or IP).

Historically, the strongest cavemen, the biggest horses, the fastest ships, the largest factories, all had an advantage over lesser competitors. We’ve all seen this: “Largest inventory in the region.”

But here’s the interesting part: As the marketplace has evolved, the order of importance and the value of assets has inverted. Studies show increasing emphasis is being placed on IP and the ability to leverage it with less emphasis on leveraging tangible assets.

And what about muscles? Increasingly in the global marketplace, human brawn is number four on a list of three.

The good news is small businesses are joining this global trend of leveraging IP more and tangible assets less. They’re increasingly using technology in exciting new ways, doing more virtual business and are as likely to develop a strategy for doing business across an ocean today as they did across town 20 years ago.

Regarding how essential IP is to a small business’s 21st century competitiveness, more and more small businesses get it.  The bad news is there still are far too many who don’t. As an example, incredibly, almost half of small businesses still don’t even have a website.

To see if you “get it,” consider these four questions:

1. If I gave you for free (a) a truckload of inventory or (b) a special technology that would help you serve customers better, which would you choose?

2. Do you spend more time (a) thinking about products and services or (b) finding technology to more effectively serve new customer expectations?

3. Do your employees (a) use the same technology in the direct performance of their jobs today that they did 5 years ago or (b) different technology (not just new machines)?

4. If you purchased another business, which would be more valuable to you: (a) the inventory and equipment, or (b) the digital records of their customers: names; contact info, including email; what they buy; when they want it; why they buy it; and how they use it?

If you chose (a) for any of these questions, it’s likely your business’s performance is on a declining trajectory. But if you chose the (b) options, congratulations, you get it about IP.

Write this on a rock … In the 21st century, leverage intellectual property more and tangible assets less.

Video- What does your intellectual property (IP) strategy look like?

In this week’s video I explain why your business should have an IP strategy and why it is so powerful.

Check out more of Jim’s great content HERE!

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Acquire and create intangible assets for your IP strategy

In my previous column, I discussed intangible assets as intellectual property (IP) and recommended every small business have an IP strategy.

It’s not my job to tell you what your IP strategy should look like because, by definition, small business intellectual property is as unique as belly buttons. But it is my job is to help you get your head out of the tangible asset sand and start thinking about the increasing role IP is playing in the success of your business operation and customer acquisition.

Remember, your strategy will include IP you acquire from others, as well as the proprietary intangible assets you create. Here are some ways to think about both kinds of IP:

• Don’t think of your new delivery schedule as just a new route for your trucks; it’s your proprietary IP that’s making your business more efficient and more relevant to customers.

• The systems you’ve developed to produce products probably seem routine and common sense to you, right? No big deal. Well, it is a big deal because it’s one of the keys to your success. It’s an intangible asset you created and are maintaining as a trade secret – your proprietary IP. As such it should be recognized, protected and defended just as diligently as you lock the doors of your business at night.

• Don’t think of social media IP you’re borrowing from Facebook, Twitter, etc., as an obligatory task everyone else is doing; this acquired IP is an intangible resource you use to create communities from which come very tangible customers.

• Connect members of communities you build on social media IP with your face-to-face communities (customer list) by developing proprietary IP that integrates the two groups.

• Acquire customer relationship management (CRM) and email marketing IP, and integrate the two with your own program to deliver content to and connect with prospects and customers.

• When you buy your next computer, don’t think of it as replacing an old one. This time acquire an IP tool that puts you in a position to maximize time, energy and resources, and is the device from which you can create your own IP and manage your IP strategy.

Having an IP strategy doesn’t mean you abandon tangible assets – we’ll always need those. But it does mean you put them in the proper proportion with intangible assets. Today, the alpha member of the asset classes is IP. In fact, any and all tangible assets we acquire, and how we use them in the future, will be determined by IP innovations.

Grow your business more efficiently and effectively with an IP strategy.

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In case you missed it, check out last week’s blog post and show segment where I talked about the history of business assets, how intellectual property has become the greatest business lever of all the asset classes, and why you need an IP strategy.

Click HERE for last week’s blog post.

Click HERE for my segment from last week’s Small Business Advocate Show®.

Check out more of Jim’s great content HERE!

Take this week’s poll HERE!

Watch Jim’s videos HERE!

What does your intellectual property (IP) strategy look like?

For 10,000 years, business leverage has come from three asset categories, shown below in chronological order of appearance:

  1. Muscle power: human or animal
  2. Tangible stuff: raw material, buildings, inventory, machines, etc.
  3. Intangible stuff: Patents, trademarks, copyrights, trade secrets and other intellectual property

For most of history, business power was heavily weighted on the first two categories. First the strongest caveman and biggest horses had the advantage. Later the fastest ships and largest factories got the jump on lesser competitors. For a small business it sounded like this: “We have the largest inventory in the tri-county area.”

But, as revealed in a study by IP attorney Kenneth Krosin, intangible assets became a powerful force in the latter third of the 20th century. Krosin discovered that at the end of the 1970s, corporate balance sheets were represented by 80% tangible assets and 20% intangible. But in 30 years, by 1997, the ratio of assets had essentially inverted to 73% intangible and the rest tangible.

Here’s what small businesses should take away from the breathtaking explosion of IP revealed by the Krosin study:

• The power of IP is no longer the wholly-owned franchise of big business.

• For centuries intellectual property provided only a marginal advantage even for big business, but has become a two-edged sword – one edge provides opportunity for those who leverage intangible assets more and tangible less, and the other edge delivers disruption for those who don’t.

• Exciting Internet resources and other digital innovations are converging and coalescing in front of our eyes to make intangible assets a much more powerful lever for all businesses.

• IP in the form of digital assets has evolved from two-dimensional tools, like websites, to add the third dimension of a virtual marketplace in cyberspace, aka The Cloud.

• Just because a small businesses may never reach 73% intangible assets doesn’t mean it shouldn’t have an IP strategy.

• Your IP strategy should include acquired intangible assets, like software, as well as the kind that you create, like a business process you maintain as a trade secret.

In The Age of the Customer, a small business must have an IP strategy that’s born from the acknowledgement that it is integral to the performance of virtually every talent and task in your business, and required to maintain marketplace viability.

What does your IP strategy look like?

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Listen to my latest segment on The Small Business Advocate Show® where I talk about the history of business assets, how intellectual property has become the greatest business lever of all the asset classes and why you need an IP strategy. Click below to listen.

What does your IP strategy look like? - With Jim Blasingame

Check out more of Jim’s great content HERE!

Take this week’s poll HERE!

Watch Jim’s videos HERE!

The power of small business trade secrets

Forgive me, because I know you’ve heard me say this many times before, but we’re not in Kansas anymore, Toto. We’re in the 21st century, and things here are different. And nowhere is this truth more evident than in the world of intellectual property (IP). You know: patents, trademarks, service marks, licensing, copyrights and trade secrets.

One of the cool things about 21st century IP is how easy it is for small businesses to create and leverage it. Unfortunately, too many small business owners get the idea that they don’t own intellectual property because they don’t have a big brand trademark like Nike’s swoosh, or they don’t have patented inventions, like Research In Motion’s Blackberry. But that’s like thinking you can’t cook a delicious steak on the grill at home because you don’t own a restaurant.

The truth is small businesses - including yours - create intellectual property all the time, just not always the flashy kind. One of the best examples of small business IP is a trade secret. This is anything that you’ve developed or discovered that gives your business a competitive advantage. It could be a delivery system or an inventory management scheme. It could be as simple as a finely-tuned payroll-to-revenue ratio, or as elaborate as a customer relationship management program that you’ve created for the way you want to track sales development and customer service.

Either way, it was created by you, your business is leveraging it and, therefore, it’s an asset that belongs to you - which means you should recognize that it has value and should take the necessary steps to protect it.

Recently, I talked about how to value and protect your trade secrets on my small business radio program, The Small Business Advocate Show, with Brain Trust member and intellectual property attorney, David Dawsey. David’s firm is Gallagher and Dawsey, based in Columbus, Ohio. I think you will benefit by taking a few minutes to listen to what this expert has to say. And be sure to leave your thoughts on this topic.

Small business asset ratio: tangible vs intangible (IP)

Around the turn of the century, I ran across a study that was conducted to look at changes in the way businesses leveraged assets to execute their business model between the 1970s and the 1990s. Reading the results of that survey was an “Aha!” moment for me, and it contributed significantly to my thinking about how we would do business in the 21st century.

Study author and intellectual property attorney, Kenneth Krosin, found that in the late 1970s, corporate assets amounted to about 70% fixed assets, like buildings, equipment, tools, fixtures, inventory, etc., and about 30% intangible assets, a/k/a intellectual property (IP), such as patents, trademarks, licensing and trade secrets. But the big news in this study was that by the end of the 20th century, those asset category percentages had essentially inverted. By 1999, businesses were leveraging around 70% IP, and only 30% were assets that had serial numbers, stock numbers or an address.

Welcome to the Digital/Information Age.

In the speeches I deliver to small business owners around the country every year, I describe the findings of the Krosin study so I can poll the audience about how they’re leveraging IP. My unscientific findings show that, while most small businesses are not quite leveraging IP to fixed assets at a 70:30 ratio like the big businesses in the Krosin study, most are leveraging IP more every year and fixed assets less.

Besides the types of intellectual property - patents, etc., - there are two categories of IP: 1) the kind that someone else creates, for example, the patented software you license to use on your computer; and 2) the kind that a business creates for itself, like a delivery scheme developed internally that reduces fuel costs, which is often employed as a trade secret.

In the 21st century, it doesn’t really matter who creates the IP your small business is leveraging, as long as you’re continually finding new ways to do so. I believe that any small business that isn’t leveraging IP more and tangible assets less is headed for extinction.

I’m happy to report that Kenneth Krosin (foley.com) has become a member of my Brain Trust and has joined me several times on my small business radio program, The Small Business Advocate Show, to talk about IP and small business. I think you’ll enjoy my most recent interview on this topic with Ken. And don’t forget to leave a comment.




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