May 22, 2015
Jasmine Zapata and Angela Fitzgerald
Earlier this month, a reader from our Facebook page submitted this question. We thought we’d share our ideas and then open it up to the BGGM community for additional thoughts on the topic. Here it is:
READER: “I have a lot of great ideas for products that I want to put on the market. I am afraid that other people will steal my ideas though. How do I go about protecting my ideas and how can I fund my dream?”
BGGM: “Congratulations on prepping for the launch of your dream! Your dream is your baby and understandably you are very protective—especially in the beginning stages. To protect your idea(s), you can always go the route of copyrighting, trademarking or patenting your project. The specific direction you may want to consider taking is dependent upon exactly what your idea is.
Copyrighting is a form of protection offered to the authors of original works, so that only they have the rights to reproduce or use their works as they desire. To use your idea as an example, copyrighting the description of your idea could provide legal protection against someone else using your exact description for their own idea.
Trademarking applies to words, names, symbols or devices, to indicate the source and to distinguish it from others. The logo associated with your idea, for example, could be trademarked to prevent it from being associated with an idea that does not belong to you.
Patents apply primarily to inventions and give the inventor the rights to their invention for an initial time period of 20 years. A patent would prevent that invention from being made, sold or reproduced domestically and internationally.
Securing funding for your dream project can be achieved a number of different ways. One way is through the support of venture capitalists or people with a lot of money and who may have interest in what you’re offering. This avenue will require that you have a well thought out plan that is marketable and has a high likelihood of generating revenue, such that you investors will see a return on their investment. Getting the attention of investors also requires that you put your idea out there to an audience with the money to support it.
Understanding the market related to your industry is key. Crowdfunding is another pathway to getting funding. Websites like GoFundMe (www.gofundme.com) and Kickstarter (www.kickstarter.com) allow for others to fund your idea. This is also a great way to elicit support from friends and family members who support your dream. Recommendations for successful crowdfunding include offering something that people would want to buy, setting a smart (and realistic) fundraising goal, and using an effective pitch.
Many successful entrepreneurs fund their projects themselves, at least in the beginning. This can be accomplished by identifying the “low-hanging fruit” (the goals that are easily reachable) in your business plan and using that guaranteed low-cost moneymaker to fund future business developments. There are multiple resources on keeping startup costs low, such that business ideas can be launched relatively inexpensively.
Part of the passion behind Brown Girl, Green Money is that we recognize that by getting personal finances in order, entrepreneurs are financially freed up to invest in their business ideas. Optimizing your personal finances includes being diligent with your current job, saving and maximizing your credit score among other things.
Many entrepreneurs also work part-time jobs or find ways to make passive income on the side to fund their dreams. One example: the website BiggerPockets (www.biggerpockets.com) is a great resource for ways to make money on the side through real estate. Also check out Side Hustle Nation (www.sidehustlenation.com) for some ideas or like our Facebook page (www.facebook.com/browngirlgreenmoney) for other helpful tips, updates and inspiration.
Once again, congrats on having the desire to become an entrepreneur. You are one step closer to financial freedom and independence. Always remember that no obstacle is too hard to overcome and to NEVER give up on your dream!
Important note: It is advised that you seek the counsel of a legal professional before engaging in business transactions, as we at Brown Girl, Green Money are not in the legal field. But we do love sharing the general knowledge we have gained over the years and inspiring others to achieve their dreams.
Do you have questions for the Brown Girl, Green Money crew? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also post your questions (and your recommendation for this reader-submitted question) on our Facebook page: www.facebook.com/browngirlgreenmoney.