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Denver Business and Commercial Law Blog

Planning ahead for a service business

Talented Colorado residents may be able to start their own businesses through which they sell their services to others. Even if they are self-employed, it is still important for them to complete a business plan so that their business is likelier to succeed.

Such a document should have clearly defined goals as well as a plan for reaching them. People might want to include plans for how much they will charge per hour for their services, the number of provided services they will need to sell in order to meet their income goals and plans for attracting customers. The plan should also address the number of clients they will need in order to meet their goals.

Job interviews and intellectual property

Many Colorado companies possess valuable intellectual property assets such as software code, patents, trademarks and copyrights vital for marketplace advantages. Interviewing job candidates or having employees lured away by competitors present two situations when intellectual property could be compromised by outsiders.

When interviewing a job applicant, the discussion of proprietary information could become necessary. Cautious companies could use a confidentiality or non-disclosure agreement to establish their legal claims to intellectual property prior to divulging any such content. A job candidate who signs the document would be exposed to legal action if information discussed during the interview was later shared with competitors or used to start a company.

Good strategic planning involves the bigger picture

Many Colorado businesses are entering into their strategic planning phases for the upcoming year. These businesses can make their plans ones that are more effective, propelling them forward rather than only enjoying incremental growth.

A mistake many business owners make with their strategic plans is not looking forward enough. Instead of only considering the upcoming year, it is better for the owners to instead visualize where they would like to see their businesses a few years down the road. Having a strong, overarching vision for the business can make it easier to plan how to get there. Without it, strategic planning may be unmoored, leaving the company only inching forward.

Protecting business intellectual property rights

Intellectual property is governed by the state laws of Colorado and the federal laws of the United States. In the brand- and information-focused business world, many of a company's most valuable assets may fall into the intellectual property category. There are four types of intellectual property: patents, copyrights, trademarks and trade secrets.

Patents are governed by federal law and must be registered with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. Most patents are for either utility or design. A utility patent might cover an invention, such as the engine of a car. Design patents cover ornamental or artistic features.

The importance of succession planning for professional firms

It is fairly common for successful law or accountancy firms to be built around the personalities of their founders. Often, the founders will have been driven by their visions as they built the businesses into successful practices that bring clients and attract talent.

When it is time for the founder to either retire or to move on, succession planning will be key in whether or not the firm is able to continue existing and being successful. There are several important questions that should be asked in order to drive the planning process.

Writing good business plans

Writing good business plans can make the difference in the success or failure of small start-up companies in Colorado. While many owners may have heard that business plans are important, they may not understand how to write ones that are effective.

A good business plan should include three primary components, including a marketing plan, a strategic plan and operational guidelines. Before writing the plan, owners should first conduct market research and ask themselves a series of questions informed by the data they gathered, including such things as how dedicated they are to the success of the business, whether or not they are prepared to work for months or years before making any money, the type of product or service being offered and whether the market will be a general or a niche one.

Key aspects of litigation readiness plans

Most business owners are enjoying a prosperous 2016. But like any successful enterprise, a company cannot simply rest on its laurels. It has to keep innovating and competing in the marketplace. However, the successes of a business can be destroyed through a lawsuit. After all, defending a lawsuit can be just as expensive as being liable for the judgment attached to it. Further,  the time spent in defending lawsuits can make it difficult for a business to maintain its trajectory of profitability.

Because of this, it is critical for businesses to have a litigation preparedness plan. This post will highlight a few things to be considered as you consider such a plan. 

Online marketing strategies for entrepreneurs

Even the most old school Colorado business owners now grudgingly admit that the Internet is here to stay. Online marketing allows entrepreneurs to connect with their target audiences directly and inexpensively, but it can be difficult to craft a message that stands out in a sea of competing voices. Most marketers understand that success comes from giving customers what they want, and simply following this basic rule can go a long way toward achieving a dominating online presence.

Possibly the biggest online pitfall to avoid is trying to sell rather than communicate. Business owners who use social media applications like Facebook and Twitter to educate potential customers and arouse their interest are usually far more successful than those who simply post special offers and deals of the week, and those who study trends and follow their target audiences tend to achieve the best results.

Emergency business planning in Colorado

As a general rule, a business plan should assume that a business endeavor takes twice as long as anticipated and accomplishes half of what it was intended to. A slow start can happen if an employee stole money, if marketing dollars did not reach the right consumers or if a shipping option turned off customers. Whatever the setback may be, business owners are better off planning for them as well as planning for success.

Ideally, a business will allocate 10 percent more money to its budget than the amount that is forecast. It may also be a good idea to reduce the sales prediction amount by 10 percent as well to compensate for not acquiring customers as fast as planned. Taking these steps makes it easier to handle cash flow and other issues during times when actual results differ from the company's projected earnings or customer acquisition rates.

Strategic planning for businesses

For many small business owners in Colorado, writing strategic plans is very difficult. Part of the issue lies with being able to effectively articulate the direction the company will be heading as well as the strategy that will be employed for getting there. There are a few easy steps owners can take to write better strategic plans that can help the business reach its goals.

The first order of business should be to picture where the company should be in 3 to 5 years. Then, the owner can list the priorities in order of importance. If there is more than one owner or if the company has a board of directors, everyone should agree on the top three priorities that are listed.