Each year, Small Business Development Centers across the nation determine a handful of priority services to provide to their small business clients. As our world continues to shift to a more digital and global marketplace, a related and lesser known topic for many small businesses is how they identify and protect their intellectual property (IP). In 2022, the ND SBDC is making it a priority to educate our state’s small businesses on how they might have IP that can build value for their business, and not even know it.
In simplest terms, IP is a type of intangible asset for a business that includes ideas, inventions, creations, and secrets that give it a competitive advantage in the marketplace. Small business owners might assume that their brand, technologies, processes, products, and recipes don’t have value – untrue! The value of these concepts can increase significantly in the future, establish the business as a market leader, and attract investors, so it is important to know what should be legally claimed and protected. According to the World Intellectual Property Organization, “small and medium-sized enterprises that apply for patents, trademarks, or design are more likely to grow quickly and succeed than those that do not.” IP can also make a small business more profitable through license sales/royalty revenues and more valuable for acquisition when that times comes.
Fun fact: the size of a company does not matter when it comes to IP. Startups and small businesses may feel the negative consequences of IP theft to a greater extent than larger businesses!
Owning IP can greatly benefit and help to grow small businesses, yet very few small businesses take advantage of the opportunity in front of them, whether they don’t know they qualify or don’t know how to navigate the process of claiming it. This process can feel daunting and confusing, but protecting small business IP infrastructure is a fundamental business strategy that deserves attention. That’s why we are making a concerted effort at the ND SBDC to assist small businesses in protecting their IP.
While the North Dakota Small Business Development Centers further develops our education and training in IP, we are also taking time to celebrate North Dakotans who have successfully built a business on their registered IP that we’ve been able to assist in their journey.
Paul Carlson, Owner & Creator of ARS Outdoor
Based out of Grand Forks, ARS Outdoor is a small business that makes and sells aftermarket Polaris Ranger Accessories such as roofs in addition to wood-crafted dog kennels.
“ND SBDC was and will continue to be a great resource in helping me start my first business. Starting with a first-to-market product is a considerable challenge. Not only were they instrumental in the success of my first product launch, then following it up with a second product that’s proven to be just as exciting. I believe we will continue to grow and develop our sphere of influence and I’m counting on ND SBDC to be there.”
Amy Shaw, Owner & Creator at In the Potter’s Hand
Based out of Wildrose, In the Potter’s Hand which also operates under the name Healthy Cricket is a family-owned business that develops unique and allergen-free products such as soaps, lotions, lip balm, and much more.
“ND SBDC has been an amazing tool for us while expanding and growing our business! They have been and continue to be a great resource and provide someone to talk through the many hurdles that we have faced the last few years. I am not sure we would be where we are today without our local SBDC office.”
As In the Potter’s Hand and ARS Outdoor prove, North Dakota residents are full of ingenuity and talent they can claim as IP. At the ND SBDC, we have been honored to assist them in establishing their products as their Intellectual Property in the marketplace and watching them grow. We look forward to assisting countless other North Dakotans as they pursue their entrepreneurial goals in 2022 and beyond.
Check out and register for our Intellectual Property training event April 26.
If you or someone you know has a great idea to claim, schedule a meeting with one of our certified business advisors here to discuss your IP options and where your ideas can take you.
Tiffany Ford, State Director
And all the Staff of the ND Small Business Development Network