Look Before You Leap when dealing with Trade Marks

If you run a small businesses, you should carry out adequate due diligence before starting trade. One of the matters that you should check before starting trade is the name of your business or the name of your brand.

If you sell items or products under a brand name, you should also check if the name of your brand is similar to or would conflict with other products on the market. A thorough search of trade marks, brand names and business names should be carried out before settling on a name for your business or product.

You should also be mindful that a registered business name is not the same as a Trade Mark.

There is nothing worse than settling on a business or brand name and embarking on an extensive marketing project, only to receive a letter from a competitor saying that your business or brand name is similar to theirs. Failure to do the proper checks and searches may result in an expensive re-branding exercise.

If, after carrying out a careful search on trade marks and business names, you find that there are no similar sounding trade marks or business names, you should consider if the additional benefits of registering your business name or brand name as a trade mark.

Registering your business name or brand name as a trade mark can protect you from other people claiming that your mark is identical or similar to theirs. In addition to this, you may be able to stop others from using your registered trade mark.

It is always best to “look before you leap”, especially when it comes to these matters.

Business Succession Planning

One day you will have to leave your business – whether its because you retire, you pass the business on to your family, you sell it to an interested party, or because of health circumstances.

Whatever those circumstances are, you always should have a plan to deal with what happens when that day comes. A failure to do so will likely result in your business suddenly coming to an end if something happens to you.

A succession, or exit, plan outlines who will take over your business when you leave or if something happens to you.

A good succession plan puts into place a process that will enable a smooth transition from you to your successor, that minimises disruptions to your business resulting from that transition. A good succession plan also gives potential purchasers peace of mind that the business will not fail the moment you leave. Putting a succession plan in place can maximise the value of your business and enable it to meet future needs or deal with unexpected issues.

What an appropriate plan is will depend on the nature of your business as well as the structure of your business. Some of the questions that you will have to ask are:

  • How long do I want to be in business?
  • Do I want to sell the business eventually or do I want to hand it down to my children?
  • What business structure does my business operate in?
  • What are the assets and liabilities in my business? Who owns them?
  • What is the goodwill and intellectual property in my business? Who owns them?
  • How big is my business?
  • Who can run my business if I am not around?
  • Do I have any processes or procedures for my employees to follow, so that if something happens they can act “automatically”?
  • If I were to sell my business, do I have a handover strategy?

If anything, see your business coach, accountant, or lawyer – they can certainly help you out in relation to identifying these issues and assisting you with your business succession plan.

A good succession plan enables a smooth transition with less likelihood of disruption to operations. By planning your exit well in advance you can maximise the value of your business and enable it to meet future needs.