How to Protect Your Small Business Idea

Wednesday, April 22, 2020, 6:00 PM | Leave Comment

If you’re like many small business owners, you’ll want to expand your business with new ideas for products and services.

One of the bigger downsides of running a small business is that your legal team is scarce or non-existent, so you have to handle copyright and patent protection on your own.

While this may seem scary at first, your ideas can remain safe as long as you stick to a few key steps.

How to Protect Your Small Business Idea

  • Keep it on the down-low

    When your idea is in your head, it has all the protection that it needs. Nobody could possibly take it from you unless you decide to voice your idea aloud. This has proven to be a detrimental mistake for many great idea-makers, so try not to repeat it.

    Keep the idea a secret until you have the means to legally protect it. Though, what happens when you have to voice your idea to get it closer to fruition? Partners and employees need to be informed of certain decisions to help with building a solid strategy. In these kinds of situations, it’s best to implement some safeguards before discussing your ideas.

    Before you start talking, make sure you get people to sign non-compete and non-disclosure agreements. Real lawyers should be drawing up these agreements so that they are completely legit. This way, you won’t risk having your ideas fall into the wrong hands.

  • Research the kind of protection you need

    When you’ve decided to protect your idea, you’ll have to decide what kind of protection you want to apply. It’s not something that happens on its own when you decide to go public with a product or service. Research the types of protection that are necessary for certain ideas.

    People often mix up terms such as copyright, trademark, and patent. It’s not just laymen, either. You’ll see a lot of industry professionals that can’t tell the difference between them. It’s sort of understandable, as lines tend to get blurry with certain protections.

    To summarize, patents are used for things like machines, manufactured articles, chemical compositions, and similar inventions. For more creative things, you might need copyright. You’ll find artistic works, poetry, music, and other forms of art under this umbrella. Copyright doesn’t protect ideas as patents do, but it does protect how these ideas are realized and expressed.

  • Decide whether or not you want legal counsel

    Most small businesses won’t often seek legal counsel, simply because it’s a costly investment. Finding a lawyer to help create and check every contract is expensive, so most business owners will choose to do this on their own, relying on their experience with other clients. This is a dangerous road to tread, as you can risk your ideas and cause legal issues down the road.

    In situations like these, hiring legal counsel is your best bet. While solidifying and protecting your ideas might seem very costly at first, it’s the best investment you can make for your business. The legal side of things is best handled by professional soliciting and conveyancing services, as they can provide you with the most reliable counsel for this type of legal protection. Your idea will remain safe, and you’ll be able to expand your business and introduce new innovations without issues.

  • Establish relationships with competitors

    Keep your friends close, and your enemies closer. This line of thinking might seem counterintuitive in business, especially when you’re trying to protect your idea, but it still rings true. You want to keep other businesses on your good side and foster positive relations with them, as it will benefit you as well.

    If you establish mutually-beneficial business deals that include your products and services, what motivation will the other business have to rip you off? They’re already profiting from the deal that includes your ideas and products, so why bother starting from scratch? In this deal, you also get to enjoy the benefits of products that are compatible with your services. It’s a win-win situation for both businesses, and one won’t think of ripping off the other.

    Even if two businesses share the same market space, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they will see each other as threats. By improving your cooperation with industry rivals, you’ll pretty much guarantee that no one with the capacity to implement your ideas will steal them from you. It’s your best bet to minimize risk before you add official protections.


Many small businesses have lost great ideas due to plagiarism and patent issues. It’s a very widespread problem and it isn’t easy to resolve. You need to be extra careful with your innovations, especially when you’re running a small business and looking to expand. The good news is that, with proper legal assistance, you can keep your ideas under lock and key for quite a bit before you decide to bring them in as part of your business.

Author Bio

Alexis is a Sydney-based part-time writer and a full-time mom of two. Her words carry the richness and offer advice and inspiration to those who desire to improve their lives. Outside of the office, she takes pleasure in spending precious time with her youngsters and absorbing the happiness they constantly radiate.

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