4 Things You NEED to Do in 2012

by / ⠀Startup Advice / January 21, 2012

As other articles on Under30CEO.com focus on how to build your business and live your dream in 2012, this article takes a look at what needs to go on behind the scenes in order for things to go according to plan. Building a company with staying power requires proactive measures to make sure the company’s relationships are formalized and its assets are protected. This article takes a look at four basic steps that should be on every startup’s to-do list for 2012.

1. Stop Relying on Handshakes and Promises from Your Friends

People move on, intentions get misinterpreted, and business deals go sour. These are facts of life as a CEO and entrepreneur, and it is for these reasons that contracts need to be put into writing. That handshake deal may seem like a jumping off point, but are you really sure of what you agreed to? When will the relationship end? What happens if they miss a payment, or you miss a delivery? What does an adequate “delivery” really consist of? Who owns what? If these questions aren’t answered in advance, you are exposing yourself to a whole host of contingencies, risks and potential liabilities that could (and should) be avoided.

2. Get Professional with Your Website

I am not referring to design, coding or marketing—I am quite sure that you have these handled already. What I am referring to is making sure that your website does not expose you to (again) unnecessary potential risks and liabilities. If you accept third-party content—whether through blog comments, forums or guest submissions—or if you sell pretty much anything on your site (including advertising space) you need to have custom-tailored Terms of Use and a detailed Privacy Policy that protect your interests and limit your exposure. A website audit to make sure that you aren’t violating any third-party intellectual property rights also wouldn’t be a bad idea.

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3. Make Sure You’re Not Already in Trouble

Speaking of intellectual property, when was the last time you cleared a trademark or any third-party media that you incorporated into your product or promotions? If your answer is (a) Never, (b) Once back when I started the company, or (c) What does “cleared” mean?, it is time to take care of this—now.

Using a trademark that is “confusingly similar” to a pre-existing brand and using third-party content without a license are two fundamental errors that can set you back big time. Keep in mind: trademark infringement is trademark infringement regardless of whether you know you are doing it or not; and, content is not “available” or in the public domain simply because you can access it on the Internet.

4. Start Treating Your Business Like it’s Your Future

As a business owner, it is critical to step back from the day-to-day and focus on the bigger picture. Building a business is about focusing on what’s next, and from a legal perspective this requires that you take steps now so that you are in a position to seize opportunities as they arise. This means getting your ducks (read: assets and relationships) in a row—knowing what you have (and what you need to acquire), and knowing what you can rely on when the time to rely comes along. Regardless of whether you are planning to sell out, franchise, or build a personal brand that will elevate you to new heights, these tasks are part of the universal to-do list for business owners planning for long-term success in 2012.

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Jeff Fabian helps business owners protect their brands so that they can stay focused on running their businesses. Visit http://etrademarksolutions.com for more information. You can also follow Jeff on Twitter @jsfabian.

This article is provided for informational purposes only, and does not constitute legal advice.

About The Author

Matt Wilson

Matt Wilson is Co-Founder of Under30Experiences, a travel company for young people ages 21-35. He is the original Co-founder of Under30CEO (Acquired 2016). Matt is the Host of the Live Different Podcast and has 50+ Five Star iTunes Ratings on Health, Fitness, Business and Travel. He brings a unique, uncensored approach to his interviews and writing. His work is published on Under30CEO.com, Forbes, Inc. Magazine, Huffington Post, Reuters, and many others. Matt hosts yoga and fitness retreats in his free time and buys all his food from an organic farm in the jungle of Costa Rica where he lives. He is a shareholder of the Green Bay Packers.


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