Tips For How To Protect Your Startup Idea
The world of business is a harsh and unforgiving place. If you’re thinking about building an enterprise from the ground up, you will need to prepare and protect your startup for the obstacles you’ll certainly face as you take the first steps to establish a successful startup.
Everything starts with an idea, and coincidentally, this is also the very first thing that you’ll have to protect if you don’t want anyone to snatch up your million dollar plan. Regardless of what industry you’re trying to make it in, there will always be certain people you should avoid doing business with, and steps you would like to take to ensure that no one else will try to implement your original ideas in their own ventures.
As you take your business idea from the realm of imagination out into the real world, you’ll need legal and financial help to protect your enterprise at every step of the way. The internet is filled with helpful blogs run by successful law firms, such as https://cartwrightking.co.uk/, or communities consisting of legal professionals you can find on Reddit and similar aggregators. They’re great for getting the gist of the basics and can serve as a roadmap to securing your startup from a legal standpoint.
However, you can’t rely solely on reading law blogs – you won’t make it very far that way. Keep reading to find out more about what steps you can take to shield your startup idea from nosy competitors.
File For a Patent to Protect your Startup
This is one of the first things you should do before you venture out to seek investors who would fund your enterprise. The earlier you do it, the better, as you reduce the likelihood and the time window for someone to file a patent for the same idea – if they get there before you, you’re going to be the copycat in the public’s eye.
In order to get ahead in the process, you should file a provisional application for a patent in the first place, which will give you time to apply for a corresponding, non-provisional one. The “provisional-first” approach is an excellent way to buy some time as you take other measures to secure your startup.
Blind Trust Never Pays
Even if you patent your startup idea and successfully secure your business from being outright copied by someone else, it does not necessarily mean that you’re in the clear in terms of competition looking to take advantage of certain ideas and concepts of yours.
A common, dirty strategy used by ruthless entrepreneurs and corporate heads alike is poaching employees. In short, it is the purposeful luring in and hiring another firm’s employees as a means of getting dirt on that particular company or extracting trade secrets out of the workers.
There are a couple of safeguards you can put in place when hiring people, which can come a long way in the scenario of one of them going off to work for a competitor. First of all, signing an NDA (non-disclosure agreement) – it will legally prevent your ex-workers from disclosing any information about your business’s past and ongoing projects that they have been a part of.
A non-disclosure agreement might not be enough in certain circumstances and particular industries. In some cases, the most valuable assets of a young, up and coming startup include their employees. Not only because of their impressive skill sets or backgrounds but also because of the way they were trained and operated under your leadership.
In order to secure yourself from losing valuable talent to a competitor, who can lure them away from you with the promise of a larger paycheck, you should consider requiring their signatures on a carefully drafted non-compete clause on top of the NDA. Non-compete agreements mostly serve to discourage workers from moving on to working for competing companies by imposing a hefty financial penalty on them, if they choose not to comply with it.
In some countries, the financial burden of a non-compete can even be imposed directly upon the employer, effectively preventing other entities from poaching your employees.
Ultimately, it is up to you to decide how to protect your startup idea from malicious third parties, or even whether you need elaborate protective safeguards at all. Remember that in some industries, additional requirements placed upon employees, such as NDAs and non-compete clauses, can be seen as unnecessary and not exactly worker-friendly. In others, however, they are a commonplace occurrence. Keep these subtleties in mind as you draft your business strategy for the future.