Patents should you have one?

People often think if they patent their idea there is nothing more to worry about as no one can copy it. This is wrong. A patent does not offer complete protection to stop someone from doing something very similar to you. The saying, “There are many ways to skin a cat” comes to mind!
I regard a patent as getting undressed in public. Everyone can see exactly what you have!
In reality, a patent is a full ‘open’ disclosure of what you are doing. When your patent is published it will be possible for others to see, in detail, your idea. If they like your idea they will find a way around your design and make alterations so that they can compete with you.
A patent does not make your idea succeed, it will only succeed if it is a good idea which can be produced and sold. Think long and hard before you apply for a patent because it is costly and may not give you the protection you are looking for.
Patent applications take time and cost a lot to obtain. During the period of a patent pending application, that is before it is granted, others can see what you have designed. If they like your idea, they will try to find a way to beat your patent by making changes to it.
Because of this it is important to get your patent agent to do a thorough search to see if there is anything similar to your idea. This can save you time and money. If the search shows a similar idea, you can then change your features or design, so that you do not clash with what is available.
Unless you have designed something that is ‘really’ revolutionary, it may be best to test the market with your idea to see if there is any commercial interest in it. If there is, then investigate the cost and timing of a patent application.
To protect your idea, when you show it to someone, you should get them to sign a confidential non-disclosure agreement.
However, a good Patent Attorney should be able to guide you on the best way forward and also carry out searches to see if there is a similar patent covering your idea.

Enjoy Your Work and Your Life

Work and life and are to be enjoyed. Because of this you must always take care when choosing a career as you will be spending most of your life there.
To succeed in business, you need be happy with your work so that it becomes your hobby and not an obsession.
When you really enjoy what you do, the day goes quickly. It provides immense happiness, contentment, satisfaction, and, of course, financial rewards. These feelings will rub off on your family and friends, as they will be a part of your success, allowing them to also enjoy your “hobby.”
A contented business person will have the perfect situation; a supportive family and friends.
Working in a job that brings no satisfaction is like having a tooth pulled every day; very painful. I have always advocated that a job must be one you really look forward to because you spend more time there than you do in any other place.
If you wake up on a Monday morning saying, “Back to work,” stay in bed and find another job that inspires you.
Consider the time you spend at work and relate this to the time you spend at leisure, or at home. For example, you have a 9–5 job where you spend 40 hours a week.
You wake up, let’s say, at 7 a.m. to get ready and leave home at 8 a.m. to get to work. That means on an average day, you have one hour at home in the morning.
You then spend one hour traveling to work and eight hours at work, plus one hour returning home, so ten hours a day is spent in connection with your job.
You arrive home at 6 p.m., you then have options. You can eat at home, watch TV, and go to bed at 10 p.m., which gives you four hours awake at home. The remainder of the night you are sleeping. You could come home and go out for the evening and return at 10 p.m. Either way, you are spending more time at work than at home.
This is the reason why I say get a job that you really enjoy, since that is where you will be spending most of your time when you are awake.
Success comes from being happy with your life and yourself. If you are not happy and become a success in business, it will provide money and possibly misery. Yes, I know some say it is better to be sad and rich than happy and poor. I hope you do not have to find out if this is true.
All I can add is that none of us were put on this Earth to be sad and unhappy, because that is a very lonely existence.

Setting Employees Targets

To give your employees incentives you have to set clear and achievable targets they can understand and accept as obtainable. Always give targets that are just above a sensible and realistic number which makes them stretch to achieve them. The point is to make the targets reachable.
Offering a target which, in reality, is too high or unachievable can be non-productive. If the target appears impossible to achieve, this will cause employee uncertainty and the feeling they are not doing a good job. Suggesting an impossible target will cause more harm than good to your business.
Instead of the impossible dream, make it the possible dream and let it come true. Everyone needs a carrot, and it is important that everyone gets the opportunity to have a bite of it. The incentive of a financial reward is most effective.
When I interviewed someone for a job, I asked a lot of personal questions. There were two reasons for this. One, to get to know more about the person and understand the type of personal life they had. Two, to learn about their financial needs; what were the mortgage payments, how many kids at school, if the wife worked, etc.
From this I could assess what salary was needed to pay their bills and eat. There is no point in employing someone who has insufficient money to pay bills; if you pay too little you may lose out on getting good staff that will stay with you and be loyal.
The most important thing is to give your employees peace of mind so they can concentrate on your business. This does not mean pay staff whatever they want, but pay an amount which would stop them moonlighting, or perhaps resorting to illegal activities, to get the money needed to survive. If you cannot pay what they require, you know that they would not be suitable for your business.
Detailed knowledge of my staff’s financial needs helped me devise bonus incentives based on performance. I offered financial bonuses linked to profits but my staff would see the bonus targets through their sales figures, which they could easily identify with.

Leadership in Business

To be successful in business you need to be a leader. By necessity, some are born to lead and others to follow; this is the way of life.
To be a success in business you need to set an example that others will want to follow. Every business person needs staff, and to get good staff you must show leadership qualities.
You must be enthusiastic, able to motivate others to follow your lead. You must demonstrate your commitment to what you are doing; your dedication will enthuse others. This is how you reach your goal.
When you come to the stage of employing staff, make sure you choose people who are really good at doing a particular job. Don’t try to get someone to do everything, as they will only be doing a bit of every job and will not satisfactorily complete any individual task. You will be cutting corners that might lead to failure. This would be a mistake
Good business management is knowing how to get 100% productivity from your staff. If you employ people who specialize in a particular job function, such as, accountant, designer, production, sales, you will build a strong team.
Successful business people and entrepreneurs know every aspect of their business and can perform every function within it. If you start a business, then you will, or should, know everything about it.
This knowledge enables you to judge the performance of your staff, because you can do their job you will know if they are good at it. This gives you peace of mind if anyone left or were sick, your business would not suffer since you could perform their job function in any emergency.
Detailed knowledge of your business is your insurance that insures you cannot be held ransom by anyone, or stop production, because a person is on vacation or ill.
With you as the boss, knowing all about the business, and with a carefully selected team, you are heading toward 100% functionality.
When appropriate give instructions by example, leadership, and good business practices start from the top.
If you are seen to act in a positive and professional manner, they will follow suit. If you have a very casual business attitude, they will see this as the way that they should act. If you continually stop for coffee breaks and take a long lunch break, go home at 5 p.m. and come in at 10 a.m., then you are setting the stage.
Be polite and firm with your staff. Never shout or raise your voice, always give clear instructions and make sure they understand what you have asked of them. Treat them with respect, as without them you may not have a business. Let them know they are appreciated for their good work. Always say please and thank you.
Never ask your staff to do anything you would not do.
A good boss will know how to assess and understand the ability of each person they employ. It is important to stretch your employees within their capabilities, not yours. Learn how to motivate your staff by example and never put them down in front of others. Show them respect and you will get it back.
However, a word of caution. Remember you are not their friend and that familiarity will breed contempt. There is a fine line between you and your staff. They must learn where that line is early on by you showing a positive professional attitude towards the business and what behavior is acceptable.