Tonight I attended an amazing event put up in Vancouver by Roger Killen.
He invited 4 Vancouver entrepreneurs who have recently appeared on Dragons’ Den. Brad Friesen with Last Call, Scott Lim with B.K.H. Jerky, Dougieluv with Dougie The Modern Dog Dog and Dan Plante with Chawel were all in the same room, sharing secrets of their success in and outside of Dragons’ Den.
I had a chance to ask them all a question that was very important to me. Pay attention to their answers. They are instructive for anyone who is starting or is about to start a business.
My question went something like this:
As an IP lawyer, I am trained to tell my clients that it is crucial to have their intellectual property and other legal issues sorted out as early as possible.
Nobody really argues that having good contracts is better than not having good contracts, just as being healthy and wealthy is better than being sick and miserable.
However, aspiring entrepreneurs often tell me that their budgets are tight, and that they’ll deal with their legal stuff later, when their business has grown to be successful.
So in your experience, what’s the last stage at which startups can safely get away without having their legal affairs in order?
Dougie said that it’s imperative to take care of the legal stuff right away, ideally even before you actually start the business. You need to have your whole legal organized before you get out of the gate.
Brad said essentially the same thing and added that he regrets not having dealt with a U.S. trademark issue before he made his pitch before millions of people.
Dan backed the other two, and shared some great ideas about naming his product and difficulties surrounding patenting an invention on a tight budget.
The lesson is simple. Every successful entrepreneur fully understands the value of legal advice and intellectual property in creating a competitive advantage for their business.
Having your legal stuff organized does not guarantee your business success.
But if you do not have your contracts and intellectual property taken care of, you will never be able to enjoy a long-lasting success, simply because even if your business does become successful, there will always be enough leeches ready, willing and able to steal that success away from you.
Granted, as a copyright and trademarks lawyer, I have an direct interest in turning entrepreneurs into my clients.
So don’t take my word for it. Take it from those who have every right to be admired. Take it from people who grew their businesses from nothing.
Protect Your Ideas as early as you can and make sure to Cover Your Assets!
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Tags:CollectivismPhilosophySmall BusinessNew Copyright ActFair Dealing