What is the difference between your small business and those businesses we all hear about doubling or tripling in size over a period of time? Are they lucky? Do they have better connections than you? Maybe they have better customer service than you? While any of those answers might be the difference, it is more likely that those businesses made the conscious effort to grow and expand. They made the deliberate decision that they wanted to get bigger and not hope for growth to come naturally. So how can you be the next great success story?
Rieva Lesonsky of SCORE business advisers made 4 recommendations for a business that is looking to grow or expand: 1) Consider your current business; 2) Assess your expansion capital; 3) Don’t keep it a secret; and 4) Plan for success. These 4 things might seem overwhelming but growth should be a deliberate action and there is help out there for you. This is The Business Law Group’s spin on Lesonsky’s suggestions.
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.
There is one problem that nearly every entrepreneur overlooks when they dream about growing their startup or small business into a big business. They overlook the fact that when your business grows, you have to get bigger. Bigger means letting go of power, hiring employees, bigger infrastructure and bigger problems. One of the terms that you as a business owner have to get used to when you are growing is human resources.
Delegating power, employees and infrastructure all come with their own sub-issues that can cause you more than just headaches. Having a plan, policies, and hierarchy can be vital. Some business owners are able to stumble into the right hire and get a human resource (commonly referred to as HR) person on their team. Others learn the hard way that they need to take an active role in the HR aspect of their business.
Being a Grand Rapids small business can be scary. It’s a big world and you are looking to carve your own niche in it. There are any number of obstacles that you can run into and trademark issues are just some of them. With around 30 million small businesses in the United States there is bound to be some businesses that cross paths with their branding. But what about larger companies that are looking to eliminate anyone that carries any similarities to their branding?
Grand Rapids bar owner, Brett Alward, has gotten a crash course in these types of matters. Alward is the owner of the soon to be former Sazerac Lounge located on Grand Rapids’ Northeast Side. The Sazerac is a rye whiskey mixed-drink that is known as the oldest known American cocktail and is the official cocktail of New Orleans. As a fan of New Orleans, Alward decided to name his bar, which was opened in 2005, after this iconic cocktail. About a year ago he was contacted by a Los Angeles law firm that represented the New Orleans based Sazerac Company regarding their claim that Alward’s bar was infringing on the Sazerac Company’s trademark.