Ten Fatal Mistakes Business Owners Make – No. 10: Failure to Protect Intangible Assets

You do not leave wads of cash in random piles throughout your office.  You work too hard for your money to treat it indiscriminately.

Consider, however, whether you are being haphazard with your most valuable business assets.

Ideas are the lifeblood of your business.  If you develop and implement great ideas, your business will grow and prosper.  Ideas differentiate your business and distinguish you from your competition.  The quality of your ideas is directly proportional to the success of your business.

Did you know that 75 percent of the value of publicly traded companies comes from ideas and other intangible assets?  The percentage is even greater for many small businesses, which often have few assets other than their ideas, strategies, and relationships.

More than 90 percent of all new technology is protected as a trade secret. If your idea is unkown to others in your industry, almost any type of information may quality for legal proteciton as a trade secret.

Your ideas, strategies, and relationships — the critical intangible assets of your business — are difficult to create and easy to lose.  You must be vigilant in protecting your intangible assets or you will lose them. If they are lost, you will have as much luck regaining them as you would putting the proverbial toothpaste back into the tube.

Once a trade secret becomes publicly known, it no longer is a trade secret. When your new marketing plan is posted on the internet, your competitive advantage is gone. If your competitor gets your customer list, your sales will drop.

If you want to protect your most valuable assets, you must act today.

Develop a plan to assess, inventory, and protect your trade secrets, confidential information, and other intangible assets.  Seek the advice of experienced legal counsel to help you implement your plan.  Regularly audit your practices and procedures to make sure that they are adequate.

Teach all employees the importance of your trade secrets, and enact policies that guard your assets.  Require employees to sign appropriate agreements as a condition of their employment.

Develop a culture of confidentiality in your office.  Protect your customer lists and pricing guidelines. Secure your business plans and your innovations.

Protect your intangible assets, and your business will boom.

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