The month of February is dedicated to recognizing those who’ve paved the way with innovative ideas and products within African-American culture. We cannot thank those enough who have advanced and changed our lives for the better.
With that said, there are many of us who have been inspired to be innovators or business owners ourselves. Oftentimes, that inspiration fills us with the excitement and determination to get our idea to the forefront. However, it is very common to make money mistakes while doing so. To keep this from happening to you, here are a few tips you may want to consider while giving your business a jump-start.
Have a plan. A builder does not build a home without first developing a blueprint. Don’t get so excited about your end goal that you don’t first put together a business plan. According to Dictionary.com, a business plan is defined as “a detailed plan setting out the objectives of a business, the strategies and tactics planned to achieve them, and the expected profits, usually over a period of three to ten years.” This is very important for a number of reasons. On top of the list: once you have details on paper, you’ll see real numbers and figures, giving you an idea of how much your business is projected to cost to develop.
Make it official. While developing an idea, product, or business you may want to consider getting a patent, trademark and/or filing for incorporation. This can be very costly if you have to hire an attorney. However, there are plenty of ways you can accomplish these tasks at no-to-minimal cost.
- Lawyers for the Creative Arts states that they provide free legal service to financially eligible clients in all areas of the arts — the visual, performing, entertainment, literary, arts education, and more. They help individuals as well as for-profit and not-for-profit organizations with business issues, contracts, copyrights, trademarks, and many other legal areas.
- Do it yourself. If you are not intimidated by legal terms and jargon then you may want to complete the paperwork yourself. Since, we live in the age of technology everything is online. Google should become your best friend. And keep in mind, you should search on a state-by-state basis. Also, each state has a Secretary of State website with forms for you to file your business. All you should have to pay are the state fees that go along with filing your paperwork. Typically, you can do all of the filing directly online. This also goes with filing for a patent or trademark. Visit www.uspto.gov, the official United States Patent and Trademark Office website. While there, you can find articles explaining how you can obtain a trademark or patent on your own.
- Use an online legal preparation service. There are many online legal preparation services that will help assist you in filing for a patent, trademark and/or incorporation. Some of these services use accredited attorneys to file the paperwork for you at a discount. Be sure to do your research on which online legal service is best for you. There are a lot of legitimate services as well as fraudulent ones. So be careful. Our favorite online legal service that we use is Legal Zoom. They will assist with all of the filing and follow-up, and, at a low cost, they have attorneys on-hand to consult with in case of any legal questions or need assistance.
Don’t buy a lot of inventory. If you want to sell a tangible product, don’t go pulling out the cash up front. This can be a huge mistake! Believe it or not, there’s no need to purchase a lot of inventory to store away because you have a product that is going to go flying off of the shelves. Start slow. Find a trade show that will allow you to exhibit a display so that you can meet potential buyers. You don’t have to have physical products in hand to attend or participate in a trade show. All you need is flyers, displays, and a prototype to help get your product or idea in front of potential buyers. Surprisingly, there are a lot of buyers who are willing to put in orders for your product and wait months before they receive the product.
Extra tip: If you’re not ready to present at this year’s trade show of choice, ask the host if there are media passes or volunteer options available for you to attend free of cost to become familiar with the experience.
If you apply these tips, they will pay off in big ways. Anyone can have a dream. But, it’s about making smart decisions in order to make your dream a reality!
Tai and Tarin Perry, the Double Saving Divas, are financially savvy identical twin sisters, and investment bankers turned money saving experts. You can also connect with them on their Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube Channel.
Be sure to join us on Wednesday, February 13 for our next Facebook chat with the Double Saving Divas at 3pm ET. Click here and have your questions ready! They’ll be answering live.