How To Legally Own Your Lane As A Small Business Owner
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Growing a business, especially for small business owners can be a daunting task. There is so much that goes into building a solid brand. But it’s worthwhile because a solid brand can birth countless businesses and produce a seemingly endless source of wealth. For example, many
people don’t realize that Amazon is one brand made up of a series of other businesses. Every time Amazon starts a new business we pretty much hop on board because the BRAND is strong. This is why you must protect not only your brand (and all the things you’d like your ideal
customers to use to identify your brand), but also as many of the components that attribute to the success of your business as possible. You can continue to create various streams of revenue as long as the foundations of your brand and business are secure, and that’s exactly why you need to make sure you own your lane.

When I say own your lane what do I mean? I mean that you own your brand and everything that goes into making your business successful (which in turn strengthens your brand). All the components of your brand and business that ultimately contribute to attracting, retaining, and re-attracting your ideal client are intangible business assets that add to the value of your business.

Why is it so important that we OWN these valuable intangible assets? Well because that’s the only way we can use these assets to create leverage, which for our purposes just means additional opportunities to increase value, capital and revenue. These components are likely
considered intellectual property, so there are only a few ways we can take ownership of and protect them.

Trademark Registration

Trademark registration is extremely important because it is how we protect your investment into your branding and marketing. It’s how we make sure that the customers and clients you are spending so much time, so much energy, and so much money to attract keep coming back to spend money with your business. You want to make sure that the ROI on that investment is coming to your business, and only your business. We don’t want your potential competitors or anyone else to be able to siphon off clients that should be yours. You’ve invested in your ideal clients – you’ve invested in attracting them and keeping them around, so you want to make sure the ROI from that investment is coming back to you and you only. How do we do that? We do that through trademarking. Trademark registration is a great way to generate additional streams of revenue for your business, and you can’t ever truly own your lane unless you get it done.

Independent Contract Agreement

Another vital component to owning your business’s lane is to utilize independent contractor agreements consistently. The first reason is because of what is called the work for hire doctrine. What the work-for-hire doctrine does is tells us that the creator of the work is the owner of that work unless we take steps to create a different outcome. This means that just because you pay someone to create something for your business doesn’t mean that you actually own it. The fact that you paid them to create something – whether it was a website or photos, logos or art, or any other contribution to your project does not mean that the fruits of that contribution actually belong to you. I know . . . weird, right? Common sense tells us that if we paid for it, we own it, but the law doesn’t agree. And when it comes to your business and its ability to build wealth, the law is in control.

So we use independent contractor agreements to make sure that you actually end up being the owner of what you have paid your independent contractor to produce for you. Because if you aren’t the owner, then that just means that that particular piece – that collateral – that material can be used elsewhere by someone else. You might just look up and see pictures you purchased to attract your ideal customers being used to build up someone else’s brand. No bueno.

The second reason we rely on independent contractor agreements is constantly overlooked by small business owners, and it’s usually a pretty costly mistake: it’s not about the label. It doesn’t matter what we call our Independent Contractors. What matters is the relationship we have with them, as far as the law is concerned. When you cross over into being an employer, as opposed to someone who is working with Independent Contractors, there’s so much regulation, so many compliance issues, so many rules, so many costs and much more administrative burden associated with that transition. And when you don’t comply as an employer, you get hit with fines, lawsuits, violations, penalties, class actions, backpay, interest and all sorts of stuff that most of us did not sign up for when we decided to scale our businesses with the help of independent contractors.

That independent contractor agreement is going to help us make sure the relationship we’re creating with our independent contractors is one that the law would also find to be a relationship with an Independent Contractor. That’s going to help us protect ourselves from getting slammed with the proverbial opening of pandora’s box that can occur when we create the appropriate relationship with independent contractors. It’s really important that if you are paying and interacting with someone as if they are an independent contractor, that they actually be what the law considers to be an independent contractor and that’s this agreement accomplishes.

Non-Disclosure Agreement

The third component you’ll need for your business to own your lane is a Non-Disclosure Agreement. That’s how we are going to make sure that your trade secrets stay a secret, that your competitors aren’t taking your data, your strategies, your trial-and-error-turned-success
and using those things against you.

Trade secrets are things that you are creating or amassing in your business, in order to make your business successful. So, these are what we would like to consider to be trade secrets because these are things we don’t want your competitors to know. These are things that we
don’t want the general public to have access to because, if the general public or your competitors have access to this information, it takes away your competitive edge. So, we want to protect this information because these are money makers for your business. These money
makers collectively make up the “secret sauce” of your business.

Your processes, marketing plans, business plans, launch strategies, formulas, recipes – all have the potential to be what we would consider trade secrets, which we would want to protect because they make money for us. We want to make sure that when you bring more people into your business or are exposing parts of your business, that those parts of your business are still securely owned by your business. We want to position your business to be the ONLY business able to leverage these intangible assets.

A strong NDA should also include non-competition and non-solicitation provisions, which will help ensure that you aren’t going to be training your competition. Your NDA is going to restrict the ability of someone to come in, use your resources, leave your business, and use those resources to compete against you.

When you own your lane, your competitors are forced to step their game up to compete with you instead of engaging in unfair competition and business practices. The law provides protection to small business owners for their most valuable tangible and intangible assets, but this protection is not automatic. You’ll have to take steps to make sure the law works for you and positions your business to build wealth for generations to come.

Ready to take your first step towards owning your lane by filing a trademark registration application? Click here and schedule your trademark discovery call.

Ready to own your lane by securing your business’s most valuable tangible and intangible assets through contracts like your Independent Contractor Agreement and Non-Disclosure Agreement? Then check out the Bosses’ Legal Vault for NON-GENERIC customizable contract templates crafted from real client contracts.

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