You have the latest and greatest idea ever and you are just raring to talk about it. But you are nervous about taking your idea to the people because what if they steal it? You are not alone in your startup fear. Many entrepreneurs are protective of their ideas. Some are way too overly protective and this will likely hurt their chances of growth. Some are overly cavalier with the details of their idea and this can leave them vulnerable. Is there a happy medium?
A non-disclosure agreement (sometimes called a NDA) can be a very useful tool. These agreements basically allow you, the entrepreneur, to disclose all the gory details of your invention, startup or idea without fear that the individuals you are disclosing this information to will steal your idea.
There is a certain type of contract that most people are familiar with but have little knowledge of. In fact many attorneys are not terribly familiar with the non-compete agreement. The non-compete can be a standalone agreement or, as is more common, it can be a clause in a much larger agreement. Regardless of the form that it comes in these agreements are complex and a fine line must be met.
The first thing that must be understood with a non-compete agreement is that these agreements are meant to protect a business. They are not meant to be so intimidating that an employee is stuck working for your business or else. There needs to be a legitimate proprietary interest that the agreement is meant to protect.
If you can’t find it, build it yourself. That seems to be a very entrepreneurial type mentality. But building it yourself doesn’t have to mean breaking the mold and creating a new market or industry. Many small and medium size businesses that survived the Great Recession are entering uncharted territory. The business world is different than the one they entered the down economy with and they have to find creative ways to adjust.
DeWys Manufacturing Inc., a Marne-based metal fabrication company encountered a common problem that many manufacturers are finding: they could not find skilled workers to fill open positions. Enter DeWys University, a $200,000 curriculum developed by DeWys Manufacturing to help train potential employees.
Launching a small business or startup company is always an uphill battle. The deck is stacked against you. Between finding a market, lack of influence, and little funding, there can seem to be an infinite number of hurdles that you have to overcome. But after you launch and are successful then you have all the experience to do it again, right?
Mike Suman, a West Michigan inventor with over 50 patents, has been through the process before. He is familiar with launching a business and growing it from an idea to being sustainable. Even this far into his career he still hits road blocks. In attempting to obtain licensing from Major League Baseball, Suman was denied because he didn’t have a brick and mortar business with employees, and MLB has already licensed lots of other wallets.
We are all tired of hearing about how bad the economy is. It seems that every article we have seen over the past five or six years has included some theme about the down economy and how it impacts our various industries. Some have proven to us that times are tough (as if we didn’t know that), some have told us how to survive, and some have told us how to use it to our advantage. Well as a sign of a new era, West Michigan is entering a time with a new problem.
Somewhere in the neighborhood of 2 million construction jobs were lost when the recession hit. West Michigan was not immune to this and the result was a lot of small construction firms and subcontractors were hit hard and many companies went under or had to cut crews to match the amount of work they had. With other industries like health care, education and multifamily markets coming back, this has trickled down to an uptick in the construction industry in West Michigan. So much so that those small construction firms and subcontractors are being stretched thin because there is so much demand.