viduals. Consider the additional strengths that your company
needs at this stage to succeed. Then surround yourself with
those who know what you do not, and listen to what they have
to say. Once you have selected the additions to your team, do
confirm that they have their stated credentials.
5. Protect This House
It is one thing to lose a company—quite another thing to lose
your home. Be sure to consider different corporate structures,
the related tax consequences for each, and the protection of
personal assets they provide. It is wise to get professional help
with these decisions.
6. Establish Barriers to Entry
Identifying a need, discovering a solution, and building a
market can be difficult. Varying tools for protecting your
inventions or creations and your branding can be used to create barriers to others’ entry into the market. These tools can
include the strategic use of laws pertaining to patents, trademarks, trade secrets, copyrights, and contracts. In addition,
when creating barriers to others’ entry in the market, consider
actions that would make it less likely for an existing customer
to switch from you to one of your competitors.
7. Do Not Build on a Foundation of Sand
Many of the paths to establishing barriers to your competitors
consist of legal steps that must be initiated early and prior to
obtaining revenue. Thus, there is a temptation to take shortcuts,
attend to these requirements yourself, or both. I advise strongly
against this. Your potential rights can be irreparably harmed by
a missed deadline or an improper filing. It is similarly important to ensure that you can do what you desire to do. It would
be very unfortunate to receive an infringement notice upon
unveiling your product to consumers. Particularly if such an
issue could have been prevented by designing around another’s
patented claims or by choosing a different trademark.
8. The Best Agreement Can Be The One Not
Most agreements you enter into will be strategic alliances,
people as they are about the terms. Thus, when negotiating,
evaluate the other party as well as the terms. Is this someone
with whom you would like to have a relationship? You can
keep costs down by reaching an agreement in principle prior
to reducing the agreement to writing. Similarly, you can speed
negotiations by considering the needs and goals of the other
party and understanding what— from their point of view—is
and is not negotiable. Please note that one size does not fit all:
Use templates with extreme caution. Lastly, never be afraid to
walk away if the agreement will not work for you.
9. Breaking Up Is Hard To Do
Create agreements for all team members and facilitators.
These agreements should be reviewed from two perspectives:
the perspective of the working relationship, and the perspective of the termination. Also, unless there is an agreement to
the contrary, ownership goes to the inventor or creator. Thus,
if the worth of the company is to be based at all on invention
or creativity, it is critical to clearly define ownership prior to
the invention or the creation being made.
10. Hang On and Enjoy the Ride
There will be highs there will be lows. Starting your own business can be time consuming, emotion consuming, and money
consuming. It will almost always be more difficult than you
may think and take more time than you may think. However,
if you are innovative, have a passion to pursue, wish to make
an impact, desire autonomy, prefer to be cubicle free, want
control of your destiny, and would like to create a legacy, then
the entrepreneurial life may be for you.
Gianna Arnold is an equity partner
with Saul Ewing LLP. With advanced
degrees in science and law and draw-
ing from her experience as a scientist,
as an entrepreneur, and as a cor-
porate executive, Gianna’s practice
is directed to enhancing company
value through protecting, leverag-
ing, and enforcing intellectual assets
and through developing and memorializing strategic alliances.
Gianna is licensed before the United States Patent and Trade-
mark Office and represents Fortune 500 corporations as well
as start-up and growth companies.
Are You Thinking of Starting a Business?
Fundamental to your decision about whether to start a business is an honest assessment of
whether or not you would be happy and effective as an entrepreneur. It is all right to conclude
that you would be better off on another career
path. You’ll be much happier if you think this one
through before you commit to launching a start-up. This article from The Wall Street Journal can
A small business has many facets in addition to the
finances. The ACS Division of Small Chemical Busi-nesses offers a variety of resources to help you
understand them. Please scroll down on this Web
The ACS Entrepreneurial Resources Center specializes in helping chemistry-related startups succeed:
If you have already decided to start your own business, money is probably on your mind. Here are
some resources to help you understand financing
your start-up in its early phases: