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    Tag Archive for 'Patents'

    Top 10 reasons to love small business

    In the spirit of Valentine’s Day, here are the “Top 10 Reasons To Love Small Business,” as from our friends over at the Office of Advocacy of the SBA.

    10. Small businesses make up more than 99.7% of all employers.

    9. Small businesses create more than 50 percent of the nonfarm private gross domestic product (GDP).

    8. Small patenting firms hire 43 percent of the high-tech workers and produce 16.5 times more patents per employee than large patenting firms.

    7. The 27.5 million small businesses in the United States are located in virtually every neighborhood.

    6. Small businesses employ about 50 percent of all private sector workers.

    5. Home-based businesses account for 52 percent, and franchises are 2% of all small businesses.

    4. Small businesses make up 97.5 percent of exporters and produce 31 percent of all export value.

    3. Small businesses with employees start-up at a rate of over 500,000 per year.

    2. Four years after start-up, half of all small businesses with employees remain open.

    1. The latest figures show that small businesses created 65 percent of the net new jobs over the past 17 years.

    It’s true: Small business is the heart of the American economy, and it’s why I really do love small business owners.

    Check out more great SBA content 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.

    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.