Don't stress! You're saved! Here's how:
Do you have a marketing budget? Then you can afford legal. How, you say? Take a little bit of that marketing budget and apply it toward legal. One good place to start is trademark protection for your business name. Why? Because if you haven't protected the name of your business, all the money you spent on printing labels, your sore feet from standing at farmers markets or sampling at grocery stores, and the fees you paid your graphic designer for your logo, website, trade show booth, and signage could be wasted.
Just imagine if you were forced to change your business name tomorrow.
New name. On everything. Picture it. Imagine how it would feel. Starting over from ground zero. Explaining to everyone why you have a new name. Trashing your beautiful logo and starting from scratch. Ordering new business cards. Rewriting your website copy. Finding a new web address, getting new Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook accounts. New bank accounts, new credit cards. Changing all of those auto-pay accounts to the new credit card number. Ugh. Telling the IRS you have a new name. Doing all of these things instead of the actually important work -- growing your business. Yuck.
Not a great picture. But there's a pretty easy fix for this nightmare scenario -- investing in trademark protection for your business name. Spending the average $1,000 - $1,500 cost for a trademark application (lawyer time plus government filing fees) starts to look like a drop in the bucket when you compare that investment to everything else you've paid (and are planning to pay) for marketing, graphic design, signage, etc., plus the hours you've spent working to get the word out about your product.
And trademark protection is just one example.
Some other very early stage legal investments it makes sense to prioritize are:
- Creating a legal entity (like an LLC) and putting a few simple systems in place to make sure it protects you;
- Getting a written founders agreement in place if you have co-founders; and
- Getting your "make it or break it" contracts reviewed (like a co-packer agreement).
Without these protections, your marketing money is down the drain anyway. So dip into that marketing budget to protect the rest of your marketing spend and sweat equity. Doom avoided!