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Intellectual Property: Protecting Your Trade Secrets

Most MOSOs don’t think of their companies as having intellectual property.  In their mind, intellectual property is reserved for those billion dollar technology companies like Google and Apple.  But thinking like that is not only incorrect, but could be costly.

Many MOSOs have valuable intellectual property called “trade secrets” within their business.  A trade secret is generally defined as information that (1) has economic value, (2) is not generally known, (3) is not readily ascertainable, and (4) is the subject of efforts to maintain their secrecy.  In plain English, that means it is a competitive asset of your business that you keep secret.  This can include recipes, formulas, techniques, customer lists, data, plans, and many other sorts of information.  Famous examples of trade secrets include Coca-Cola’s secret formula and Kentucky Fried Chicken’s 11 herbs and spices.

Some advantages of trade secrets are that they can be kept secret forever, there is no requirement for registration, they help build mystique, and many states have special laws for their protection.  However, if you don’t protect your trade secrets, the law will not protect them for you.  And far too often business owners neglect their trade secrets until it is too late.  A knowledgeable MOSO should be proactive and take the following steps to protect their trade secrets:

(1) identify the trade secrets that drive your business,

(2) keep access to the trade secrets on a need to know basis,

(3) make those who are trusted with trade secrets sign confidentiality agreements,

(4) educate employees as to what information is and isn’t okay to disclose to others, and

(5) make sure employees return information containing trade secrets upon termination and are made aware of their confidentiality obligations.   

If you do all this, you might just find that your company is a hotbed for intellectual property.

Fuel Your Aspirations!

John Monahon,
is an attorney with Trusted Counsel (Ashley), LLC,
a boutique corporate and technology law firm. 
You can find him on the web at www.trusted-counsel.com

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5 must-haves for an effective business card

A business card is one of the first things you create to brand your business. But once printed, it’s probably the thing you think least about. Among certain people it’s still the most important, triggering a recollection of your and your business. I recently had to replace mine, and I visited several online printers. The selection and arrangement of type was easy enough, but the process got me thinking. What does each element on a card say about me and about my business? How can I create a card that people will keep? It’s quite simple really, and comes down to five things:

1. Legible type: How big is big enough. Frankly, your mother should be able to read it without squinting. The size depends on the font, but unless your customers are under the age of 14, you want something that can be read without glasses.

2. Simple design: Less is definitely more here. The less cluttered your card, the more easily people can find your contact information. If you can’t decide on a logo or design, don’t just pick something you like from a template. It’s likely hundreds have chosen and are using the same image. Select a simple, tasteful typeface in a color that stands out. If you think black is boring, opt for dark brown or blue, olive green, graphite. Choose a white or off-white background; either always conveys good taste.

3. Consistency: When you can, match the typeface and color on your card to those on your website and other printed communications, such as stationary or direct mail. Consistency is an element of brand building, and the repetition and continuity help reinforce your message and image.

4. Currency: I don’t mean money. I mean something that indicates you are current with the times. In addition to your address and phone, include your Facebook and Twitter accounts. Make room for a Q R (Quick Response) code to display contact information or open a webpage in a mobile phone’s browser.

5. A memorable message: Not so long ago, people and businesses left the backs of cards blank. Increasingly, this space is used for a tagline, a logo, or a message about the business. If you have a service-based business, you can use it for making appointments. Your card should be considered part of your advertising or even used to offer a promotion.

Finally, a few words about size and shape: There’s no evidence that sticking with the standard shape, a rectangle, will get a more positive response than, say, a square, an oval, or an oversize card. But that shape should say something about your business and what it stands for. If you have a gardening business, for example, then a leaf-shaped card makes sense. If you are in a creative field, such as an interior designer, a special paper or deckled edge communicates your artistry. Whatever you choose, make sure you have a reason to back it up. That’s part of branding, too.

(This article was also featured in the Special Edition Issue of MOSO MAG — Main Street Matters! August 2011)

Fuel Your Aspirations!

Charlotte Barnard
Senior creative management professional with proven experience creating content for major brands
charbarnard@yahoo.com
917-834-1778

Personal Growth is a Choice

If you desire more opportunity in business and life then choose a path of personal growth.  Very often, people will say, “The personal growth stuff sounds good.  But what does it have to do with my business?”  

Personal growth has everything to do with your business.  It has everything to do with your life.  To have excitement and passion about what you do and your life you must embrace personal growth.

 Personal Growth:  The One Key Principle
Whether you are a self-employed business owner, entrepreneur, solo professional or an individual seeking more opportunity for success there is one principle you must understand. 

Seldom will your business and life exceed the size of your thinking.  Do you want more income?  Then you must change and expand your thinking to have more opportunities for income available.  Do you want a better family life?  Change your thinking and place greater value on your family and more opportunities for a better family life will come your way.

Personal Growth:  What Holds You Back?
Novelist Leo Tolstoy said, “Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself.”  The ironic thing is that change is inevitable.  The oldest man in the world died inMontanaa few weeks ago at the age of 114.  He was lucid up until his last few months.  He was interviewed in 2010 about his thoughts on living a long life.  His first answer to living a long life was to embrace change. 

So everyone has to deal with change.  That’s a given.  On the other hand, personal growth is optional.  When you choose to grow it is much easier to accept change and to subsequently move forward. 

In coaching success I can assure you the people who are unwilling to grow will never reach their potential.  What holds most people back?  It is not circumstances or things.  It’s their unwillingness to embrace personal growth.  And this unwillingness to embrace personal growth is one of the most important killers of small business success and small business growth. 

Personal Growth:  The Difference Between Successful And Unsuccessful People
Most people don’t realize that successful and unsuccessful people to not differ substantially in their abilities.  They vary in their desires to reach their potential.  And there is nothing more effective when it comes to reaching potential than commitment to personal growth. 

Ask yourself this question.  In what specific ways have you changed lately to reach your potential?  In my personal business coaching practice the clients who embrace personal growth and the change that comes with it are the most successful and more satisfied.

Interestingly, the most successful people, very often, are not the ones that started with the best circumstances, funding, startup business plan or marketing business plan.  They started with one thing.  They were open to personal growth and change. 

Embrace personal growth.  Welcome the change.  You will change from within and as a result your outer world will change.  When you change more opportunity will come your way.  There are many keys to success.  A commitment to personal growth is one of the most important.

Fuel Your Aspirations!
Steve

Steve Scott is a personal business coach who collaborates with business owners and professionals who are committed to having more in their businesses and lives.  To learn more about Steve and what he offers go to www.TheHoustonBusinessCoach.com 

 

 

Are You Crazy?!?!!

Do you find that you are getting in the way of your own success? Consider this: many business leaders, regardless of how long they’ve been in business, spend more time and energy tripping over themselves and recovering than actually moving forward. Think about it: if you don’t have a marketing plan for your company – why not? You know that you need one. You know that businesses live and die partially due to their marketing efforts. Why haven’t you hired the assistant, purchased the new building, hired the consultant, expanded your product offering, etc.?

If you look at the benefits versus the cost, it’s CRAZY that you haven’t taken the steps necessary to do it. I promise you: something will always be “wrong,” be it cash-flow, timing, people, etc. There will always be an excuse for not doing the things you know you need to get done so that your business doesn’t become a statistic.

These are some of the things that keep your business from being extraordinary. Not suggesting that you’ve got to build a mega-multinational-super-conglomerate, but rather, that you can have a business that does what it takes to keep movin’ forward!

Anything less is just crazy. Make it happen. Continue to strive. Be extraordinary!

Fuel Your Aspirations!

W. Rick Meekins II
Chief Operations Strategist

Aepiphanni Business Consulting, the Business Strategy People. They help business leaders create extraordinary businesses. For more information about Aepiphanni Services please visit www.aepiphanni.com or email Rick Meekins direct at rmeekins@aepiphanni.com.

The MOSO MAG 2011 Special Edition is Live! Check it out!

Consistency and application are what brings you victory, MOSO’s! No matter how difficult and challenging working on your passion can be at times, there is no explanation for the JOY that it brings when you’ve accomplished a task and it’s staring you in the face! I hope you enjoy this issue of MOSO MAG — I love it! If I should say so my self. Hope you’ll find value and a few nuggets to keep your aspirations fueled! Click on the COVER to view the contents of this issue.

PLAN – B

MOSOs how imperative is it to have a” Plan B”? Let me see…Plan B is a popular term used to mean a reserved, secondary plan, in case a first plan (a hypothetical ‘Plan A’) fails. Here are 4 lessons I’ve learned along the way. I’m not done — still learning lessons daily, but here we go.

Ok, let me think about the 1st big lesson – oh, this is a good one, 1) Not having the “right” venture partner(s).

TAKEAWAY: Make sure you recognize the motives of venture partners. I mean really understand their reasons for stepping into your vision, especially if you’re the creator and visionary, and plan accordingly (emotionally and most importantly—legally)! I won’t go into detail, because it’s really a book all to itself and I just want to touch on the high points.

Plan B: There isn’t any – Just do the first thing.

2) Start. I’ve been working on MOSO Nation since 2005(conceptually). But debuted in October 2010.

TAKEAWAY: Waiting for perfection (everything to fall into place) isn’t always the best course of action. I believe if you have this mindset you won’t do anything.

Plan B: Feasibility (actually this shouldn’t  be your Plan B, it should come prior to even needing a Plan B) – as much as your heart is in something, for me MOSO Nation is a heart issue, sometimes it just isn’t feasible for a variety of reasons. So I guess I should say, you’re Plan B is to start with the END in mind.

3) OMG – You need some money. Depending on the type of business you’re going into, and considering if you have venture partner(s) (refer to #1) who are contributing cash to the idea. You’re gonna need some money. A little money, a lot of money, money that peeks at you from around the corner — you will need it for specific ventures.

TAKEAWAY: I like to say that doing what you love will always create this force field of energy that draws just the right amount of capital towards you. I still believe that, however; there is a more practical takeaway. If you’re spending more money than making – light bulb moment!

Plan B: Stop spending what you’re not making in revenues.

4) When an opportunity presents itself, better be in a position to capitalize on it.

TAKEAWAY: If you’re not PREPARED or in POSITION, then skip it and wait until you’re in a place to maximize the benefits of said opportunity. I know some will disagree with me on this one, but hey these are my lessons your lessons may be different.

Plan B: Re-assess, Re-new, or let go. I oftentimes mention to readers in my blog posts about not giving up, no matter what. That’s still rings true for this post as well. What I am saying is that sometimes the lessons come to you because there is a LESSON, right?

So having a Plan B may mean that you will take a secondary course of action that will lead to an end that is in line with what you initially set out to do or dreamed about. But Plan B could also mean the very thing that goes against our heart’s desire that leads to a different end, or let me put it in a more positive perspective, an end that takes you on a different path, but ultimately gets you to a similar place. Whew! I’m not sure what you’re Plan B is, but what I know for sure is that you better have one.

That’s all for now folks.

Continue to Fuel Your Aspirations – I will.

Monique

Keys To Success: Potential

I remember as a young boy my parents always told me I had great potential.  I didn’t understand what potential meant at such a young age.  On my journey of personal growth and development I have come to understand potential as that which is not realized. 

My potential is the distance between what is today and what can be
Very often this is interpreted to be a negative.  In some instances where we see people waste their potential this is true.  But, for most of us it is a call to become more, attract more and have more. 
In my personal business coaching practice I have the privilege of collaborating with many talented people.  And, they have great potential.  One of the keys in coaching success is to help them realize more of their potential. Like me, they have a good life, yet they realize that in developing their potential that business and life can be so much more. 

Potential—The Motivator
The first thing to understand about potential is that it is a motivator.  When others see something in us that we don’t and encourage us to realize it, we have been given the gift of encouragement to become more. 

When we become more we can offer more to others.  That is living up to our potential.  In giving more to others more can come back to us.  Striving and being motivated to realize our potential is a wonderful thing.

Potential—Playing At The Top Of Your Game
How many kids say, “Someday I want to play second string on the baseball team or be vice-president of the United States”?  If a child has aspirations he wants to play first string or be President of the United States. 

Or maybe they want to own their own business and realize their potential in running a small business.  Whether you are a self-employed business owner, entrepreneur, solo professional or an individual seldom do you strive for the middle. 

The truth is that most people will never be the top leader in their organization.  One of the lures of running your own business is that you can be at the top of your organization.  The key to having small business success and continued small business growth is to understand your potential as a leader. 

In coaching success I see business owners who are at the top of their organizations but who are not playing at the top of their game.  Their days can be dominated by things they don’t enjoy or are not good at.  And, in the instances I am referring to, these things can be easily delegated. 

The organization, the employees and these individuals would all be better off if the owner understood his potential and played to it or played at the top of his game. 

Potential—How Are You Plugged In?
When you are working in your strengths you are realizing your potential.  Interestingly, when you do work in your strengths is when things are most likely to go well for you.  Unfortunately, I see many self-employed business owners who are not plugged in properly to their business.  Maybe they are great at sales but are still intimately involved with accounting, which they don’t enjoy. In this case, they are not realizing their potential and neither is their business. 

Whether you own your own business, work for a company or are an individual seeking greater reward, understand your potential.  Seek to fulfill it.  Reach to achieve your potential and success will find you.

Fuel Your Aspirations!

Steve

Steve Scott is a personal business coach who collaborates with business owners and professionals who are committed to having more in their businesses and lives.  To learn more about Steve and what he offers go to www.TheHoustonBusinessCoach.com

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