Tag Archives: business

Small Business Saturday

Small Business Saturday UK – Saturday 1 December 2018

What is Small Business Saturday

Small Business Saturday launched in the UK in 2013. It’s a simple initiative designed to support and promote small businesses, right in the midst of the holiday season.

A lot of people perceive the Small Business Saturday movement to be retail-based; encouraging promotion of smaller makers, independent shops, or maybe even coffee shops. One of my favourite local coffee shops, Pavilion at the Park, is one of this year’s Small Business Saturday Small Biz 100. These businesses are all fab and they get a lot of column inches this time of year – but I would encourage you to remember them long into the new year. They thrive only if we as customers use them.

Some of my favourite small service-based businesses

Talking about Small Business Saturday; I wanted to take the opportunity to highlight the small service-based businesses who also do happy dances when they get a sale, but perhaps sometimes can be overlooked in this time of events, gift guides and stocking fillers.

A few of my personal highlights of small service-based businesses that are just as excited to be part of the small business community.

Simplified Accounting. Rachael’s small business offers accounting services, mainly to Limited companies. That doesn’t mean that she doesn’t offer it to individuals, this is to do with the company set up (I’m a Limited company and I work by myself). Her approach is extremely down-to-earth, she makes sense of the numbers and does it in plain English. If, like me, you struggle with that side of the business, she is the perfect person to have on your side. And we usually discuss numbers over a slice of cake so that’s always a winner for me.

Southwood Social Hub, and Southwood Social Hub Scotland. The brainchild of Hayley Southwood, these are online networking groups with a difference. There is a maximum number of members at any one time, to help limit the “noise”. The community she has created, and which the members support every day, is really unusual for an online networking group. It is supportive, a safe space, non-competitive and welcoming. The regular meet ups reflect this too, and it’s lovely to see people greet each other like long-lost friends when often they have never met in real life before then.

Donna Tweedale Styling. Donna is so thoughtful and a truly warm personality. She offers various styling services from personal shopping trips and wardrobe edits to seasonal reports. Helping to select the right collection of pieces to pull together a seasonal wardrobe update, or to help with an outfit for an event. Crucially, and perhaps unexpectedly, she doesn’t encourage buying lots of new things. Her service is much more about pulling together what you have and perhaps adding a few extra, key, pieces that will work hard. She’s not going to throw out your entire wardrobe and make you start from scratch; nor is she going to turn you into a clone. Her service is individual and personal.

The Happy Body Project. Julie is an incredible personal trainer. She is a proper nerd when it comes to fitness and nutrition (and I mean that in the best possible way). She really knows her stuff. She runs various group classes as well as personal training, and online courses. All of them are tailored to each individual’s needs – somehow she manages that even in a class of 12 people! It’s her personal touch and her genuine enthusiasm for helping everyone achieve whatever their aims are that make her stand out for me.

Let me know if there’s any others you’d recommend I check out.

 

good trade mark

What makes a good trade mark? Branding advice versus trade mark attorney advice.

There’s lots of debate about what makes a good trade mark. And the answer is that it depends what you’re trying to achieve with it. And who you ask/who is asking!

Branding/marketing advice for a good trade mark is likely to be:

From a branding perspective a good trade mark will be memorable as the main thing. You also want it to be clear to your customers who you are, as well as being clear about what you do/offer. Most of all, you probably want it to stand out from the crowd. In addition, I know some people think that it’s a great compliment to a brand if it is used frequently, or becomes synonymous with your product or service. Who doesn’t say “I’ll Google it” when they actually mean “I’ll use an internet search engine to find that out”.

Trade mark attorneys will say that a good trade mark:

Is also memorable and stands out from the crowd. Also you want to be unique in your business area. You don’t want to describe exactly what you do – so neither “Your Local Accountant” or “Get Mums Fit” would be considered a good trade mark from that point of view.

Ideally, you want your trade mark to be able to be registered. So a trade mark attorney’s advice about what makes a good trade mark will be that you need to choose one that will satisfy the requirements for registration. The Examiner at the trade mark office will decide if it can be registered as a trade mark. This means that they look at;

  • Whether it can identify one business from another.
  • That it doesn’t describe the goods/services offered.
  • That it is not customary within the trade/industry.

You also need to make sure that it doesn’t conflict with anyone else’s existing trade mark(s).

These are all things to think about when choosing a name for your business or product range. If you need any help with choosing a new name, rebranding, or protecting your existing trade mark, please get in touch.

Trade mark registration – what does it give me?

Trade mark registration seems to be on lots of people’s “to do” list. For most businesses a trade mark is a fair chunk of investment, especially in the early stages. Lots of people aren’t really clear what a trade mark registration gives them. And just as importantly, what it doesn’t. As a result, it often gets overlooked on that “to do” list.

So here’s a quick run down of some general pointers* about what kind of benefits and security you get from having a trade mark registration.

What you get with a trade mark registration:
  • First of all, you get the presumed right to use the trade mark. In the country it’s registered in. On the goods or services it’s registered for.
  • Then you also have the right to stop someone else from using the same, or similar trade mark. In the country you have it registered in. If they are using it on the same or similar goods or services to the ones you have it registered for. And there is a likelihood that customers will be confused.
  • There’s the increased ability to ask for investment because you can legitimately say that you own the brand. Think of Dragon’s Den – the first question they ask is “do you own it”.
  • You can license it to other people to use. Think of franchises, spin-off product ranges, collaborations.
  • The ability to use it to raise finance for your business, e.g. by mortgaging it.
  • Also the right to sell the trade mark as part of your business.
  • You can use the ® symbol which tells other people that your trade mark is registered and warns them about your existence. A great deterrent.
  • It can be used to object to similar domain name registrations that contain your trade mark, or something similar.
  • You have the ability to use it to stop counterfeiters.
  • Also, you can use it to register with customs authorities to help prevent the importation of counterfeit goods.
What you don’t get from a trade mark registration:
  • Global protection. Registered trade mark rights are restricted just to the countries where you have a registration. If it’s not registered in that country, you’re not protected there.
  • Every type of product or service is protected. Unless you’ve got a registration for them all. There is no “catch all” term like “merchandise”, you have to be specific.
  • Other people copying your business idea, or simply running the same type of business (there are lots of clothes shops in the world for example). So long as they are using a different name, brand etc your trade mark registration won’t be able to stop them. Even if you are the first to the market.
  • You won’t be able to stop people using descriptive words. For example, “Bargain Books” can still be used by everyone else to describe their bargain books, even if you have, say, a logo version of that registered.

If you have any questions, or would like help protecting your trade mark, either in the UK or overseas, please get in touch.

*Not all countries have the same laws, these are general pointers from a UK and EU perspective. If you have a query about a specific country please get in touch.

When, and why, should I get a trade mark protected?

Hello!

Things have been a bit quiet over here on the blog. It’s been a hectic few months with lots of lovely new clients joining us, as well as a holiday, a birthday and the initial stages of a house move, busy busy!

when-and-why-register-trade-mark-2

Inspired by this overwhelming busy-ness, it got me thinking about how hard it is to know what to do first when you’re setting up a new venture; and I’m the first to admit that getting your trade mark protected isn’t quite top of the list in terms of exciting things to do (like actually launching a product, getting your website done etc).

So when should you look at getting trade mark protection?

The answer is as soon as possible.

Why bother?

Having a trade mark registered gives you the presumed right to use the name to trade under. You don’t get that from your domain name, your logo or your article in the local magazine.

It also gives you the right to stop others from using the same, or a confusingly similar, name for the same business. This bit is important if you think you might be susceptible to those “inspired competitors” trying to encroach and pinch your brand.

But it seems like a lot of money to spend.

The costs are modest for a UK trade mark, and trade mark rights last for 10 years. Think of it as insurance for your brand name. It will be less than you spend on marketing, or website development, or even branded stationery over the same period.

I haven’t had any issues yet and I launched ages ago.

If you’ve been trading for a while, you’re not too late – it’s always a good idea to get trade mark protection no matter how long you have been trading. Trading for a while will have given you some reputation rights, but in practice these are hard to enforce, expensive to enforce, and likely to be limited to the geographical area you’ve got the reputation in.

You would say that, you’re a trade mark attorney.

I appreciate that this advice will seem biased. But bear in mind I’m not insisting you use a trade mark attorney to help you protect it – although there are lots of good reasons why you should here – seeing businesses adequately protect their brands will always make me happy, even if I haven’t helped them directly.

So, go forth and register your trade marks. And if you need some help, give me a shout!