Tag Archive for 'IP'

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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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.

Small business intellectual property (IP)

Intellectual property (IP) is one of the most important issues most small business owners need to become more knowledgeable about; especially with regard to their own IP.

Most of us think of IP as just patents, and since few of us are inventors, we think the IP world is for others. But ALL small businesses create IP on a regular basis. If you’ve developed a system for managing your customers, or a delivery scheme, both are good examples of small business intellectual property. You’re not likely to patent those, but you should recognize that they are your assets and protect them as another kind of IP, a trade secret. Think of the Colonel’s 11 herbs and spices, or the formula for Coke. After all these years, both are still trade secrets.

Copyright are another great example of small business IP. You create information every year that should be copyrighted by your company and protected.

Today we learned more about IP, especially copyrights, with David Dawsey, IP attorney from Gallagher & Dawsey Co., LPA (we used to call them patent attorneys) and outstanding member of my Brain Trust. I hope you ‘ll take a few minutes to listen to what David taught us about small business IP. If you’re leveraging intellectual property in your small business, be sure to leave a comment.




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