5 Ways to Protect Your Startup From Copycats

Entering StartupWhoever said that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery clearly did not have a startup.  The fact is, when you have a good idea the copycats will come out of the woodwork to steal it.  To keep competitors on their toes and your startup from becoming one of too many, Danielle Tate, entrepreneur, and the founder and CEO of MissNowMrs.com, the leading online name change service for brides, offers advice on several ways that you can protect your startup from pirates and avoid costly legal battles:

     1)  Build Your Brand…Fast.  With great ideas, it is a race to bring the product to market.  In your planning, I suggest prioritizing how you are going to grab market share.  Whether you use PR, advertisements or social media, it is important for your new business to make a memorable splash in your market.  Once your company is established as the industry leader, copycats are less likely to take your idea and if they do, they should make less of a negative impact on your business.

     2)  Put a Face With Your Company Name.  Consumers love to know the entrepreneur and back story behind a company and become much more connected to your brand when they feel like they know you.  In any copycat situation, your best customers are also your best defenders.  If a customer is emotionally engaged with your brand they are much more likely to stay loyal to your brand when copycats appear, and may also defend you via social media and word of mouth.

     3)  Protect What is Valuable.  Determine what the most valuable assets of your company are and then find ways to protect them.  This can be as simple as adding a copycat scanning software like CopyScape to your website or as complicated as writing code to detect suspicious use of your product.  Whatever you choose to do to protect your startup, being proactive instead of reactive will save you stress, money and possible litigation.

     4)  Form Strategic Partnerships.  If there are key companies in the industry your company is entering, consider partnering with them.  The partnership will help boost awareness of your brand and also locks any copycat companies out of relationships with these partners.  Strategic partnerships are also beneficial if you are afraid that a large company will take your idea.  A partnership or private label will allow the larger company to benefit from your startup without stealing from you.

     5)  Patent It.  If your idea or product is unique, money spent on filing a patent is a wise investment.  While the process is lengthy and expensive, the protection a patent offers your start up is unparalleled.  Even before your patent is approved, the words “patent pending” will deter potential copycats.

These five tips should help your startup stay safe and allow you to focus on building your business instead of fighting off copycats.  Creating a company from an idea is an amazing feat. Good luck.

ABOUT DANIELLE TATE

As a successful entrepreneur, Danielle is a name change expert, on-camera personality, writer, author of a top rated Google newlywed blog and a bridal magazine contributor.  It was a 13-hour struggle to change her name after getting married in 2005 that prompted Danielle to leave her medical sales career to develop and launch MissNowMrs.com. Wanting to save other brides countless hours of hassle, Danielle researched name-changing laws and rules in all 50 states to streamline and implemented her unique three-step, 30-minute online service.

Since 2006, Danielle has served as CEO of MissNowMrs.com and revolutionized the online name change market. Since launching, MissNowMrs.com has assisted more than 225,000 brides in their transition from Miss to Mrs and recently launched MissNowMrs.com/Canada for Canadian brides. She is also the founder of MarriedNameGame.com, the original proprietary name change algorithm to determine your ideal married name, and GetYourNameBack.com, an online service dedicated to helping women get their name back after divorce.  Danielle is also the co-founder of Sculpt Studio, a Megaformer studio in Bethesda, Maryland and partner in a non-profit organization that helps charities file tax exemption paperwork in multiple states.

Danielle has numerous television appearances. She has been interviewed on FOX National News, NBC DC News, KTLA-TV Morning News, Better TV, WBFF-TV Fox News, WBKO-TV ABC News, WJXT-TV News, and KTVK-TV “Good Morning Arizona.”

ABOUT MISSNOWMRS.COM

MissNowMrs.com is the premier online name-change service created to simplify the name-change process for brides and newlyweds nationwide. Our unique service guides brides through a series of questions, uses their answers to auto-populate all of their state and U.S. government name-change forms, as well as notification letters for all of their creditors, and then supplies detailed filing instructions for each form/letter. Our service accommodates every legal name-change option based on marriage, so brides can decide which name-change option works best for them.

Salespeople Have Questions. Jeffrey Has Answers.

Jeffrey Gitomer King of SalesBy Jeffrey Gitomer

I get a ton of emails from people seeking insight or asking me to solve their sales dilemmas. Here are a few that may relate to your job, your life, and (most important) your sales thought process right now.

Jeffrey, A company that installs gutter guards recently lost my business. I was solicited by their sales team twice. The second time I was in the market to buy. But their technique is different. They require both the husband and wife be home during their estimate. I do understand why they want both to be there (so they can eliminate any obstacles). However, my wife doesn’t care, nor does she want any involvement in these type of decisions. I told them if they require this, I will take my business elsewhere. They simply stated, “Thank you,” and hung up. They lost the sale, but I now have new gutter guards that were installed by another company. What is your take on this? Mike

Mike, Old-world salespeople are gonna die. In sales, it’s called a one-legged sale when only one of the two deciders is in the room. Companies don’t want to “waste their time” on someone who “can’t decide without talking to their spouse” because the objection they use is, “I’m going to talk this over with my …” The bottom line is that company is rude, stupid, and will lose people (just like they lost you).

First of all, men don’t decide anything, anyway! Only women decide. The woman will approve all decisions in any household. Don’t take my word for it, ask any husband.

HERE’S THE SECRET: If you’re in the business of sales, you’re also in the service business, you’re also in the people business, and you’re also in the friendly business. Anyone says, “I’m not going to give my sales presentation unless both decision makers are in the room,” doesn’t fully understand that concept. But that’s the bad news for them. The good news is you can call their competition and coach them on what to do correctly. Somebody obviously did. Best regards, Jeffrey

Dear Jeffrey, My company delivers mobile dictation and transcription service to field workers in IT and health care, saving these people time in reporting. Lately I have been promoting the service to sales professionals. I have written several 30-second commercials for this but keep running into all sorts of objections. Salespeople are difficult prospects and I’m constantly trying to find the right pitch. How would you approach the market of sales professionals and sales management? Do I need two different approaches? Gerhard

Gerhard, No. You need one approach. Every salesperson who has a CRM – SalesForce.com, Microsoft Dynamics, whatever it is – is required to put stuff into their computer on an everyday basis for every sales call they make and there’s one universal truth about it: they all can’t stand it.

But if you could get them to record something on their laptop immediately, like a two minute, this goes here, this goes here, and you could actually do their CRM entering for them… Oh baby! Their boss would buy it, they would buy it, their CEO would buy it, and their spouse would buy it. Everybody would buy it and they would pay double.

The problem is you’re trying to sell your service instead of giving them an answer that they’re looking for. Big mistake. Don’t tell me what you’ve got. Sell me what I perceive that I need and then I will buy. Best regards, Jeffrey

Jeffrey, I’m an independent commercial real estate lender and commercial real estate mortgage broker. I’m trying to link up with referral sources such as CPAs, commercial realtors, financial planners, etc. Do you have suggestions for a thought provoking question or line of conversation to help me connect with these folks and open the door to more meaningful dialogue? Dennis

Dennis, Dude, you’re providing them with money. You’re helping them get deals done. Why don’t you ask them questions like, “What do you think about when your deal doesn’t go through? Do you think that there’s another alternative way?” and then follow with, “My name’s Jeffrey, and I would love to be your secondary source for the deals that don’t make it. If I can prove myself on a couple of them, maybe I can earn my way to becoming your primary source. Fair enough?”

All the people you’re talking to in the real estate business only want to get a deal done. That is their primary objective. It doesn’t matter what the interest rate is. It doesn’t matter where they get the funding from. They only want to get the deal done. If you can be a person who can help them get the deal done, they will use you. Best regards, Jeffrey

Jeffrey, I am a devoted reader of your weekly email magazine and a fellow Phillies fan. I’m not a salesperson by title, but as GM turned entrepreneur, selling is a vital skill, and your insightful information is greatly appreciated, not to mention it just makes sense. My strengths are more on the production and supply side, so I was wondering if you had any advice on how to find qualified salespeople in specific industries. I have several products that I’d like to develop sales channels for, but I’m not sure where to begin effectively. Rob, Chief Cook and Bottle Washer

Rob, Qualified salespeople are already working someplace else. You must attract them with reputation, range of salary and incentives, and social proof that you’re great. Look for people in related industries or directly at your competition. Ask your vendors. Ask your customers who they love to buy from. Search LinkedIn by keyword to see who may be “looking for career offers.” Go Phillies! Jeffrey

Jeffrey, My boss and I have drafted emails to different types of industries specifying how they can make money and profit from our service. The plan is to send out these brief descriptions through email and see who gets back to us. After reading almost all of your material, I know you don’t believe in cold calling, but in this case is it better to email the companies or call them on the phone? Ryan

Ryan, The answer is neither. What you need to be doing is blogging information about these companies that they would consider valuable. You have an email magazine. You post something on Twitter. And with their search for keywords about their own stuff, they will find you. If you only send out information about yourself… “We have this great service and it’s the greatest thing in the whole wide world” …delete, delete, delete! But if you put value messages out that they might be able to find, it will be delight, delight, delight! Best regards, Jeffrey

Jeffrey Gitomer is the author of twelve best-selling books including The Sales Bible and The Little Red Book of Selling and 21.5 Unbreakable Laws of Selling. His books are now available as online courses at www.GitomerVT.com. For information about training and seminars visit www.Gitomer.com or www.GitomerCertifiedAdvisors.com, or email Jeffrey personally at salesman@gitomer.com.

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© 2014 All Rights Reserved – Don’t even think about reproducing this document without
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Back to School: 10 Ways to Keep Students, Pedestrians and Motorists Safe

AAA WashingtonAs the new school year begins, AAA Washington urges drivers to be aware and extra cautious when traveling in school zones, backing out of driveways and navigating through parking lots and neighborhoods. More than 1.1 million students in Washington state are preparing for back to school, which welcomes an increase in child pedestrian activity in and around roadways, especially during morning and afternoon hours.

According to the NHTSA, nearly 500 school-age children (ages 5-18) are killed each year during school travel while occupants of passenger vehicles, in addition to the 75 school-age pedestrians that are killed each year while traveling to and from school*.

Top 10 Back-to-School Safety Tips from AAA:

1.      Slow down. Obey Washington’s 20 M.P.H. speed limit in school zones. According to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, a pedestrian is nearly two-thirds less likely to be killed when struck by a vehicle traveling at 20 M.P.H. compared to a pedestrian struck by a vehicle traveling 30 M.P.H.

2.      Keep your eyes on the road. Research shows that taking your eyes off the road for just two seconds doubles the chance of being involved in a crash.

3.      Come to a complete stop. More than one-third of drivers roll through stop signs in school zones or neighborhoods. Always come to a complete stop before proceeding.

4.      Reverse responsibly. Check for children on the sidewalk, in driveways and around your vehicle before slowly backing up.

5.      Respect crossing zones: More than 22,000 students in Washington state volunteer as AAA School Safety Patrollers to protect their fellow classmates during school travel. Be mindful near crossing zones and make eye contact with patrollers to ensure maximum safety.

6.      Watch for bicycles. Slow down and allow at least three feet of passing distance between your vehicle and a bicyclist. Expert advice, videos and safety tips at ShareTheRoad.AAA.com.

7.      Eliminate distractions: Eliminate dangerous distractions that can increase your risk of being involved in a crash. For example, store cell phones out of reach to limit texting, calling or emailing while driving.

8.      Talk to your teen: According to the NHTSA, 74 percent of fatalities during school travel hours are crashes involving teen drivers.

9.      Plan for extra time. Drive slowly and choose alternate routes to avoid school zones if possible, or plan ahead and allow for extra travel time if needed.

10.      Practice: Knowledge and practice of safe walking and biking around traffic is essential. Choose safe walking and bicycling routes and demonstrate the rules of the road with your children before school starts.
School zone safety tips can be found on AAA’s “School’s Open – Drive Carefully” page at exchange.aaa.com.

“Parents have a great influence on their child’s safe walking, biking and driving behaviors,” said Jennifer Cook, AAA Washington. “As families prepare for the upcoming school year, we encourage parents to talk about the importance of school zone safety with their children and teen drivers.”

* Fatality Analysis Reporting System’s specific criteria used to define school travel include: 1. Month of year: September 1-June 15; 2. Days of week: Monday– Friday; 3. Hours of day: 6 a.m. – 8:59 a.m. and 2 p.m. – 4:59 p.m.

AAA Washington has been serving members and the traveling public since 1904.  The organization provides a variety of exclusive benefits, including roadside assistance, discounts, maps and personalized trip planning, to its 1,080,000 members. In addition, its full-service travel and insurance agencies provide products and services for members and the public. Additional information is available through the company’s stores  in Washington and northern Idaho, at AAA.com, or by calling 1-800-562-2582.

Auto Review: Tesla Model S – I Want the Magic Car Too!

Tesla Model S – The Electric Vehicle We All Want

Joe Kennedy Publisher of Bellevue Business Journal in a Tesla Model S
Joe Kennedy Publisher of Bellevue Business Journal in a Tesla Model S

Last week I was fortunate enough to be able to take out a Tesla Model S “Premium Electric Sedan” for a day.  It was one of the best driving experiences of my life!  Tesla set me up to pick up a Model S 85 Performance Plus (top of the line Model S) from the kind people in the Tesla showroom in Bellevue Square.
Even though I had previously been in the showroom at least a dozen times, I learned that there was much I still did not know about this machine.  In a 15 minute lesson, I was shown many different features of the Tesla Model S that I had previously been unaware of.  By the end of the lesson, my mind was completely boggled, but I was confident that I had a good handle on the basics of operation. Continue reading “Auto Review: Tesla Model S – I Want the Magic Car Too!”