You may think that patents and copyrights are not required, since your products are so innovative, but you will find that competitors are quick to copy your idea if you don’t protect it. In addition, most investors won’t give you money for scaling if you don’t have a strong property base.
Although Elon Musk doesn’t talk about it very much, he owns over 350 patents through Tesla, just one of his many companies. In addition to locking in his leadership position in electric vehicles, he has also used his patents to negotiate faster growth in his market.
4. Strategic planning is a required ongoing investment.
If you wait for a growth crisis to kick off your next step, it’s probably too late. Planning for the future must be a regular activity, not just an early-stage or once-a-year event. Change happens every day, and it takes time and effort to prepare you for the next step. Survival requires regular updates.
5. Even the best solutions require marketing to survive.
With information overload due to the internet, you need to find your customers, rather than assume they will find you. That first burst of customers via word-of-mouth or a viral video won’t sustain your growth. Start with a range of platforms, including social media, advertising, and a great website.
6. Don’t underestimate or ignore your competitors.
As an angel investor myself, I’ve often heard the argument that your solution has no competition. My answer is that no competitors means no market, or you haven’t looked. Neither is good. I want to hear how your offering stands out, and how you have a plan to stay ahead of the crowd.
Having an innovative solution is a necessary, but not sufficient, condition for starting and succeeding in business. You also need the required skills for leadership, planning, operations, and growth, many of which are best acquired from business experience, rather than academia.
These street smarts, if you acquire them early, can save you a lifetime of pain. It pays to build relationships with an adviser or mentor, or work in the real business world for a while, before you strike out on your own journey.
It’s more fun to enjoy and see positive results from your efforts than to spend your life trying to catch up.