6 Things to Do at Least One Year Before Launching Your Business

Welcome to another episode of Launched & Legal with Dayna Thomas, Esq., entrepreneurship attorney and law firm coach. Launched & Legal is an Atlanta Small Business Network original series dedicated to bringing entrepreneurs and business owners the best practices and tips for strategizing, legalizing, and monetizing their ventures. Today, Dayna breaks down six things entrepreneurs need to do at least one year before they launch their businesses.

Transcription: 

Dayna Thomas, Esq.:
On today’s show, I’m going to be talking about six things that you can do and should be doing at least one year before your business launch. Now, I decided to talk about this today because sometimes we think that, “Hey, I’m not launching my business until a year from now. I have time.” While you do have time for certain things, there are many, many things that should be on your to-do list at least a year before. So you may have learned in your entrepreneurship research, planning is huge when it comes to starting a business. So today we’re going to talk about some things that you should be doing at least a whole year before your launch.

Dayna Thomas, Esq.:
Number one, start building your brand now. You don’t want to start building your brand only when you launch. The last thing that you want to do is for people to think that you are a rookie in that space or industry that you’re in. So for example, if you want to start a photography business and no one knows is that you take pictures, you don’t want to keep that a secret. You want to start pumping out some information and building your brand around photography. So even though you’re not launching for a year, when that time does come, people will already know you for having an interest in pictures, having an interest in photography. And that way it will look like you’re a rookie just starting out.

Dayna Thomas, Esq.:
So some ways that you can start building your brand, have a website, right? Your website does not have to provide or offer a product or service. It can just be a place where people go to get to know more about you. Maybe you have a blog on there where you’re talking about photography or whatever the interest or industry that you’re going to be entering into. People need to start getting to know you.

Dayna Thomas, Esq.:
Have your bio on there. So again, you don’t have to offer a product or a service just to have a website. You don’t have to sell anything. Use that website to start building your brand and driving people to that site so that they can learn more about you. Not only your website, but your social media, right? Use your social media intentionally. Really, the theme for social media as an entrepreneur or as an aspiring entrepreneur is intention, right? So when you’re posting, you want people to get to know you for what you want them to know you for.

Dayna Thomas, Esq.:
So think about what your brand will be a year from now or what you want your brand to be a year from now and start posting about that, right? So whether you are posting your own unique content, your own original content, or maybe you are reposting from someone else that’s in the industry that you plan to be in, constantly pump out that information, inspiration, whatever it may be to get people to associate you and your brand with that industry that you plan to enter into.

Dayna Thomas, Esq.:
Number two, start building relationships. Now, when I say start building relationships, I’m not talking about networking, right? When I think of networking, I think of just a mutual exchange of business cards and you may never even speak to that person again. The point of building relationships is not just so people can know your name. That’s what step number one is for, brand building.

Dayna Thomas, Esq.:
Building relationships is about having a symbiotic relationship where you can serve someone and they can also serve you, right? So you want to be able to serve people during this time, serve them, reach out to potential mentors, reach out to people that you want to get to know, not to ask them for anything, right? So I’m saying to reach out to people, I’m not giving you the advice to reach out to people and ask for a coffee or ask for a meeting or a phone call, right? Because that can be almost stressful for the person on the other line that wants to help, but maybe they don’t have the time. If you’re reaching out to build a relationship, you are reaching out to serve that person. How can you help them, right? So you’re sending an email, introducing yourself, saying how you reached out to that person or how you found out about them, and seeing if there’s something that you can help them with. That’s how you build a relationship.

Dayna Thomas, Esq.:
There’s also something called the law of reciprocity, which means that if you give to someone or you serve someone, then they automatically start feeling that they should give to you too. And you want to be able to rack those up because when you start your business, you may need some favors. You may need some advice here and there. So use this time during the year before you launch to start building relationships with people.

Dayna Thomas, Esq.:
Number three, we’re going to talk about money. You need to cut your expenses. So yes, I understand your launch won’t be for a year from now. However, you have to start thinking about your finances right now, and that means cutting your expenses. So I would recommend writing out every single one of your expenses in a spreadsheet, and don’t leave anything out even if it’s a $5 expense, a $10 expense, your Netflix expense, whatever it may be, and start seeing what you can eliminate. The last thing that you want to do is be so concerned about how much money you have to make with your business in order to meet expenses that you don’t really need. So start using this year or the year before you launch to start cutting your expenses. Along with that is saving money, right? So cut expenses, save money. Don’t just wait until you launch to start looking at your finances. Look at it right now.

Dayna Thomas, Esq.:
Number four, you have to educate yourself, right? And I’m not talking about the professional degree that you may have, whether you have an associate’s degree, a bachelor’s degree, a master’s degree, a doctorate, all of those are super fantastic, and congratulations on that. However, you have to constantly educate yourself as you are building up for entrepreneurship and getting ready to launch. So figure out ways that you can continue feed your mind. One recommendation I have is webinars, masterclasses, online courses. We’re constantly scrolling social media and we see ads for free masterclass, free webinar, all of those things. And we’re often scrolling right past them. I would recommend to click on those. You’re seeing those ads based on your interest, based on things that you like, things that you have searched online.

Dayna Thomas, Esq.:
A lot of times, those ads are for some type of masterclass or webinar or a download or an ebook that’s free. Utilize that. Use that to help to feed your mind and educate you about your particular area.

Dayna Thomas, Esq.:
Now, we do know that at the end of those free masterclasses, that they often want to sell something at the end. Not saying you should or should not take advantage of that. That depends on if you feel like it’s a good fit for you. But you don’t have to. So don’t feel like you want to completely avoid those free masterclasses, those free ebook downloads, just because you don’t want to be sold to at the end. At least you can get that free information and make that decision later on. So those are my personal favorite ways of learning masterclasses, online courses, webinars, but we know we have the traditional ways, right? We can read books that are teaching us about marketing, about finance, tax, whatever it may be in the industry and to help us to educate ourselves more about the business.

Dayna Thomas, Esq.:
What I like to call YouTube University. Go on YouTube. There’s so much information on YouTube to teach you about anything that you want to learn about. So you really have to dedicate the time to educate yourself. Education is something that is never going to end. It doesn’t matter how much money you’re making in your business, whether it’s $1 or $1 million, you will continuously have to educate yourself. So don’t wait until you’re ready to launch. Start right now, at least a year before you launch.

Dayna Thomas, Esq.:
Number five, if you know anything about me, you know one of my favorite topics is trademarks. At least a year before you launch, you should be thinking about protecting the brand. I can almost bet that you already know the brand name that you want to use for the business that you want to launch a year from now. And that is great. However, you have to take an additional step to make sure that’s protected before you get so tied to that brand name or that logo. And one way that you can do that, the main way that you can do that is filing a trademark application. What’s great about federal trademarks is that you can file an intent to use trademark application, which means that you don’t even have to use the name in connection with that product or service before you file the application. You can pretty much reserve the name, right, as long as it’s available and no one else has a name that is confusingly similar to it. And you can file that trademark application. Reserve that name. It will be pending with the trademark office.

Dayna Thomas, Esq.:
And in terms of timeline, about six months, at least a timeline for right now, about six months from the time that application is submitted. Hopefully, if everything is good with your application, you’ll get what’s called a notice of allowance. From that time, you will have an additional six months to provide evidence that you are now using that name in connection with the products or the services that are in your application. No worries. If six months isn’t enough time and you haven’t launched yet, you can file an extension to get another six months, which is excellent.

Dayna Thomas, Esq.:
So you can get up to five extensions of six months each, which gives you a good amount of time to plan for your launch and reserve your name in the meantime. So from the time you file your application to the end of the last extension, it’s about two and a half to three years. So we’re talking about a launch a year from now. So certainly you are in that timeline to file an intent to use is trademark application. I’m telling you, you don’t want to have a name that you just love in your mind and that you’re planning around. And then when it’s time to launch, you realize that someone else has started using that name before you, or maybe they filed a trademark before you. And now you have to completely change the thought process that you had in your brand.

Dayna Thomas, Esq.:
All right, now last but not least, number six, you need to get a legal consultation. Now I’m not saying that you have to do everything right now that you may be advised to do by an attorney. However, it’s great to have a roadmap of what you will need along the way to build a solid legal foundation. I do not want you to build a business going in blindsided and your foundation is rocky. The best thing that you can do is make sure that the foundation that you’re building your business on is solid, that you have your brand protected, your business is protected, all the content that you’re creating is protected. If you have business partners, you know what contracts you need. If you’re hiring any employees or contractors, you know what contracts you need for that. Just be aware of what you will need to do so that along the way, you have an awesome roadmap and you can prioritize what you need. So be sure to get a legal consultation just so that you have that information and you can prioritize what you want to do.

Dayna Thomas, Esq.:
Well, I hope today’s show helps to educate and inspire you as you pursue your business goals. Be sure to share today’s show with someone who can benefit and visit myasbn.com and subscribe. If you have any questions or comments about today’s show, I would love to hear from you. Just send me a message or comment on Instagram at Dana Thomas law, and remember to tune in next week and every week to make sure your business is launched and legal.


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