By: Noah Rue
Starting your own business can be an exciting but challenging endeavor. Even for those experienced in management, entrepreneurship can be daunting. With unexpected obstacles that constantly crop up, you need to protect your business from day one if you wish to succeed. Here are some essential tips for safeguarding your startup:
Protecting Your Idea
Overlooking critical aspects of safeguarding your ideas can lead to your entrepreneurial dreams being completely shattered. There’s no shortage of stolen ideas in any industry, and it’s your responsibility to protect yours. Thankfully, there are measures in place to help you secure the ideas on which you have based your startup.
Eric A. Bernsen or Procopio Law writes that there are four ways to protect an idea: patents, copyright, trademarks, and trade secret. His advice to budding entrepreneurs includes first asking questions and researching the type of protection you need. This may include different contracts, and even non-disclosure agreements.
Secondly, he recommends filing an application for an idea or invention before discussing its details. He writes “If an inventor discusses the details of a new innovation and is not the first to file, it can spell disaster. That is where the paranoia comes in. While the law is first-inventor-to-file, it is likely to be expensive and difficult to prove someone stole an idea.” Finally, he advises entrepreneurs to patent their ideas as soon as possible.
While all this may seem like a lot of work to undertake, remember that without your unique business idea, your startup is as good as done for.
Protection Through Insurance
Startups and small businesses can be vulnerable to a number of incidents that delay your plans or even bankrupt the company. Especially through the initial stages of starting a business, it is important to prepare for unexpected events and safeguard yourself against their consequences. A small business insurance policy does exactly this.
Rather than thinking of small business insurance as an added expense, consider it as an investment that will help your startup succeed even in tough times. Experts at The Hartford state that, “Without business insurance, a small firm and its owners could potentially be on the hook for hundreds of thousands, possibly millions, of dollars in damage and liability claims. Few small businesses can recover from such costs.” They recommend investing in liability insurance as well.
Based on your business needs and budget, you can choose form a variety of different insurance packages. The benefits of an insurance package include both convenience and cost savings. Usually, small business insurance will include a mix (or all) of the following coverages: income, commercial property, worker’s compensation, commercial auto, and data breach insurance.
Safeguarding Your Marketing Efforts
Having a sound marketing strategy in place is of extreme importance when it comes to starting your own business. The world is constantly evolving, which in turn can make marketing very complex. As your startup grows, you will have to change and adapt your initial marketing strategy to adequately suit your needs. Here are some things to keep in mind when it comes to properly marketing your startup:
Define Your Mission
A clearly defined mission statement is central to any marketing effort you undertake. Yet, for some reason, mission statements tend to be overlooked or forgotten after the initial months of running a startup. Publicizing your mission is one of the best ways to show your uniqueness, as well as tell consumers why they choose your product or service over others. Your mission statement, or value proposition, should be the core of all your business processes, marketing included.
To leverage your mission statement as a marketing tool, first think about the benefits of your product or service, the gap in the market it addresses, and what makes your startup different. After defining your proposition, use it in all your marketing efforts; whether it’s website headers or packaging or video content. This way, customers will always have a clear sense of why they’ve chosen your startup.
Include Digital Marketing
As a startup owner, including some form of digital marketing within your overall marketing strategy is a must. Gone are the days when you could rely solely on traditional marketing methods. Today, the majority of your consumers will be online and connected, and so you need to cater to modern consumer needs. Whether you choose to use smaller scale digital marketing methods like advertising only on Instagram, or go big and invest time and money into SEO, paid ads and more, a digital presence is a necessity in today’s world.
When used correctly, digital marketing tactics can keep your audience engaged and yield extremely high conversion rates. One of the most notable benefits of digital marketing is that you can potentially reach customers across the world, without worrying about geographical boundaries. These are just a few reasons why you need to consider digital marketing. Ultimately, digital marketing will help you build a brand name and disrupt the competition.
Track Marketing Touchpoints
Tracking marketing touchpoints is necessary to make the most efficient use of your data. Often, you may find that you have vast amounts of data but are struggling to do something meaningful with it. Tracking your touchpoints will enable you to determine what is working, and what failing strategies you need to re-think.
To properly assess your marketing efforts, experts at CallRail recommend dissecting each touchpoint into three features: referring source, content, and call-to-action (CTA). The referring source is the economic data within a touchpoint, as opposed to content types, which considers the conceptual data within a touchpoint. Finally, CTA refers to the conversion data within a touchpoint. To ensure that your marketing efforts are not going to waste, it is key to narrow your analysis to touchpoint efforts. As aptly stated by CallRail, doing so “will filter out a lot of the noise in your heaps of marketing data.”
If there was ever a time to invest in cybersecurity, it’s now. Cybercrime is on the rise, with cyberattacks becoming more prevalent than ever. And as a startup owner, you’re more likely to experience a breach than larger companies. In fact, according to an article in Forbes, “ 71 percent of cyber-attacks occur at businesses with fewer than 100 employees.” This is because small businesses often don’t have the resources to thoroughly safeguard themselves from such attacks, making them much more susceptible to security breaches.
By adhering to some basic principles of IT security, as well as following these easy tips, you can ensure that your startup doesn’t fall prey to cybercrime:
Install Antivirus Software
An antivirus solution offers a basic level of protection and can be an important step in defending your data. Whether the devices being used in your workplace are private laptops or office computers, ensure that all your devices that access work-related information have antivirus software installed on them. If your budget allows it, consider upgrading to a premium antivirus plan, as these usually include advanced security measures that protect your devices against malware, viruses, spyware, and adware.
Regularly Backup Your Data
It goes without saying, but regularly backing up your data is essential to safeguard the longevity of your information. Cyberattacks often wipe out all your data, leaving you completely stranded if you don’t have a relatively recent backup. Experts at Record Nations suggest implementing a security policy that includes frequent backups, as well as securing access controls, monitoring, and physical security features. Additionally, it is prudent to restrict access to backed-up data, and well as store backed up systems in a siloed, secure facility.
Use Passwords Wisely
Even though passwords have been around for decades, they’re as important today as they once were in securing information. Choosing a password that is unlikely to be guessed is a quick and easy step that almost anyone can use to provide an added layer of protection. According to security experts, a password should ideally be about 10-12 character long and contain a combination of numbers, upper and lower case letters, and symbols to make sure it is hack-proof.
Use this advice to safeguard your startup from the very beginning. When it comes to entrepreneurs, a little paranoia can go a long way in determining the success of your business.
By Noah Rue
About the author
Noah Rue is a writer, a digital nomad, an ESL teacher, and an all around good dude, if he doesn’t say so himself.