Trademark basics for small business owners
As a small business owner, differentiating your company from your competition is essential. Naturally, your business name, tagline, product names, logo, etc. play a big part in that.
Because they establish your business’s identity, you don’t want another business stealing the specific words and symbols you use to represent your company.
According to SCORE mentor and retired IP Attorney Charles Gumpel, “If your company’s brand image is stolen or closely duplicated, the result (financial and otherwise) could be devastating to your business. For instance, customers might be unable to identify the ‘real’ brand from the impostors, and you would probably never reclaim those customers even if you found a way to stop the impostor. Other adverse effects could also occur, which ultimately might lead to the termination of your business.”
Thankfully, however, trademark rights provide you with some level of protection.
“Trademark” can refer to both “trademarks” and “service marks.” They’re similar, but not exactly alike.
Trademarks are used to identify and distinguish the provider of goods, whereas service marks identify and distinguish the provider of services.
According to the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) website*, “A trademark typically protects brand names and logos used on goods and services.”
Using TM or SM informs others you’re claiming the wording or symbol or design. Realize, however, that you may have difficulty bringing legal action against another party if they use something that’s the same or very similar to represent their company’s offerings. For additional protection and benefits, you can register with the USPTO to officially claim your mark. If approved by the USPTO, you can use the official federal registration symbol, “®”. The USPTO clearly states that you may not use that symbol until after the USPTO actually approves and registers the mark—not while your application is pending.
“If you elect not to register your mark with the USPTO, you will forfeit a number of important benefits,” explains Gumpel. “Among them are: greater confidence that your selected mark is protectable; nationwide notice of ownership to help prevent others from claiming the same or confusingly similar mark; accessibility to federal courts to stop impostors and possibly obtain treble damages and attorney fees; the possibility of effectively blocking counterfeit imports; and other similar benefits.”
How To Register For a Trademark or Service mark
Before filing an application to register your mark, you might save yourself time and money by doing an initial search in the USPTO’s TESS (Trademark Electronic Search System) to verify no one else has applied for the same mark.
To learn more about trademarks, visit the USPTO website where you’ll find detailed information and links to helpful resources.
Please note that all shared in this article is for informational purposes only and not intended as legal advice. Consider consulting an attorney specializing in trademark law to discuss the specifics of your business and guide you through the process.
Since 1964, SCORE “Mentors to America’s Small Business” has helped more than 10 million aspiring entrepreneurs and small business owners through mentoring and business workshops. More than 11,000 volunteer business mentors in over 320 chapters serve their communities through entrepreneur education dedicated to the formation, growth and success of small businesses. For more information about starting or operating a small business, call 1-800-634-0245 for the SCORE chapter nearest you. Visit SCORE at www.score.org.
Think small to achieve big goals
If you have big goals that never progress beyond the idea phase — getting healthier or starting your own business, for example — then it might be time to overhaul your approach. Instead of pursuing (or not pursuing) large and intimidating goals that might seem too difficult to really achieve, you might find success with strategic steps, built-in rewards, and a shift in your mindset.
First, think small with a modest and achievable goal to help you build momentum. If you want to become a successful business owner, make a goal to draft a workable business plan. Maybe your garage is full of stuff, and your dream is to transform it into a woodworking shop — focus on a single corner first and don’t worry about anything else. Once you complete that first step, move on to another manageable milestone.
Second, do a little advanced problem-solving. If you never have time to work on a business plan, block out the time on your calendar. If you want to improve your diet but always forget breakfast, prepare food in advance and set a reminder on your phone.
Third, set some boundaries for yourself to keep you on track for each goal. Are you trying to quit smoking? Avoid your old smoking spots for now. Do you have more to do in that messy garage, but you’d rather lounge around inside? Set a timer for 30 minutes and work until it goes off before you hit the couch, or make a rule for yourself that you can only listen to your favorite podcasts or audiobooks while working in the garage.
Fourth, build in some rewards along the way. At four weeks without smoking, treat yourself to a massage. When you finish that business plan, go enjoy an over-the-top ice cream sundae. These little treats help keep you rolling to the next small goal and the one after that until, eventually, that impossible dream is well within reach.
4 facts about administrative workers
Administrative Professionals Week (APW) is celebrated annually on the last full week in April, which this year is April 23 to 29. The event aims to recognize and highlight the vital work of administrative professionals, including receptionists, secretaries, personal assistants, customer support workers, and more. Here are some facts about administrative workers to give you insight into the profession.
1. Administrative professionals in New York, NY, are most in demand across the US. In fact, admin workers in New York boast some of the highest salaries in the nation for this occupation.
2. Administrative assistants are overwhelmingly female. In North America, over 90 percent of administrative professionals are women.
3. The average administrative worker’s annual salary in the United States is $39,680. However, the most experienced workers can make over $45,000.
4. The American Society of Administrative Professionals offers the Professional Administrative Certification of Excellence credential to individuals who’ve developed administrative skills valuable to employers.
The administrative professional job has evolved over the years. The technology boom in the last decade has forced administrative workers to expand their skills. On top of managing memos, spreadsheets, and budgets, admin workers must now be proficient in countless online programs and software.
This APW, thank an administrative professional in your life. You can give them a card, send them a gift basket, or offer them a gift card to an office store to upgrade their supplies.
Did you know there’s also Administrative Professionals Day? This day of recognition takes place annually on Wednesday of the last full week of April. This year, it falls on April 26. Much like APW, it aims to celebrate and shed light on the many contributions of administrative professionals.
Creating A Life You Love
It’s easy to get caught up in the rat race. Whether you’re in the office, on the road, or somewhere in between, you’re bound to be working a lot of hours.
In today’s fast-paced world, it seems like everyone is constantly busy with work, family, hobbies, and activities.
You may find yourself wondering if there’s any way to make money while still enjoying life. Well, there is. You just need to take action.
If you’re stuck in a rut, you’re not alone. Many people feel like they’re caught in a cycle of work, eat, sleep, repeat.
You’ve been working hard and, finally, feel like you’re on track to create the life you’ve always dreamed of. But what happens when the work gets tough and your dreams seem further away than ever?
When you’re stuck in a rut, it’s easy to feel like your dreams are just out of reach. But that doesn’t mean they’re not real!
If you want to build a life you love, you’ll need to stop dreaming and start taking action.
What Do You Want Out Of Life?
A lot of people struggle with the fact that they don’t know what they want in life. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it can be hard to know where to start when you’re in the thick of your adult life.
You have so many options. You can pick a career path that you enjoy, or one that pays well, or one that you think you can make a career out of.
It’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking about what you want and how to get there, but if you actually want to create a life that you love, you need to take a step back and really consider what you want out of your life.
The first step is to make a list of everything you like to do, everything that you like to think about, and everything you like to talk about. Once you have that down, you can start considering what would make it possible for you to do these things.
For example, you might love to write, but you need to consider if you’d be able to support yourself from it if you were to start a freelance writing career. You might want to go to college and study something like history, but you’ll need to make sure you can afford it and pay for the costs associated with going.
You can take a look at the money you make at your current job, but if you’re not happy with it, you might want to consider getting a new job. Maybe you like to travel a lot, but you have no clue where to start, or you’d need to make some big moves in order to do that.
You’d need to figure out if you can take the time and money to make that happen. In order to make sure that you’re creating a life that you love, you need to figure out what would need to change for you to do so.
Many people are not happy with the lives that they’re living. They have a job that they don’t like, but they’re stuck in it because they need the paycheck.
They might even be in debt from working themselves to death and not having enough money for a life outside of work. They feel trapped in a life they don’t want, so they might have given up on life altogether.
You have to wonder what people are thinking when they’re in a situation like this. You can tell that they’re miserable and just want to escape. How does a person end up in a place like that?
It starts with small things, like not having a life at all or having a life that’s not fulfilling. The little things add up, and the person doesn’t have the will to change.
They might be stuck in a job that they hate, where they’re only doing it to pay the bills. Even if they do love their job, it’s not making them happy.
They may not have any kind of social life. They may not have time to date, and if they’re married, their marriage isn’t going anywhere either.
What they’re missing is the ability to make their own decisions and live the life they want. It’s not just that they don’t have the money to make their own choices. It’s that they’re not making their own choices.
People have to decide for themselves, and that means they have to take risks. They’re forced to work at jobs that they hate, and they’re not able to take any risks in life, so they’re stuck in a life that’s not theirs.
The truth is, you don’t need to go through something terrible to find yourself in a bad situation. You can get yourself into a bad situation by making poor choices and being ignorant of what you’re doing.
You’re the one who has to live with the consequences. If you’re unhappy with the situation you’re in, then it’s up to you to do something about it. Don’t wait for it to happen.
If you’re in a bad situation, you can make your life a whole lot worse. Or, you can start to make changes and make yourself a whole lot happier.
In this day and age, most people are living lives that they don’t really want to live. They are constantly looking for ways to make more money, have a better job, own a nicer house, get that raise, and so on.
The problem is, you can only get so far living that way, and eventually, the stress levels of day-to-day life will get to you, and you’ll end up just wanting to give up and say, “screw it.”
One of the biggest problems with most people today is that they are constantly looking for the “perfect” thing. We all want to achieve perfection, but if you’re going to put yourself through hell and back to get there, you’re going to lose all sense of enjoyment.
A much better option is to create a life that you love and that you actually want to live. That means that you’ll end up having a job that you’re passionate about and that you want to wake up and go to every day.
You’ll never get burnt out when you work for yourself, and you’ll have the ability to live comfortably and spend money on things that you really want. If you’re struggling to make ends meet right now, then you might need to look at creating your own business or finding a way to make extra money doing what you already love.
Either way, you’re going to have to think about how you’re going to spend your time in the future, and it’s time to start thinking about that now.
Start today and build a life you love.
Improve recruitment and retention with exit interviews
Reviews and testimonials are essential to doing business in the modern world. In today’s competitive labor market, conducting an exit interview is your opportunity to learn more about the worker’s experience within your company and potentially become a more desirable workplace.
An exit interview lets you learn more about the vacated role, which has likely evolved. This knowledge helps you elevate your job ad from a boilerplate to a targeted description of expectations. The more precise your job ad, the better your chance of identifying the most suitable hire.
When employees leave, they’re more likely to give candid feedback about their experience on the job. This information can help you make informed adjustments to your corporate culture. It can also help you identify which practices are working. It all adds up to an opportunity to improve conditions for those who remain with you.
Ask a local employment agency or counselor to advise or support your recruitment and retention, from job ads to exit interviews.
Breathing break reduces stress
If your to-do list is running long and your stress levels are rising, you might want to start your day with a quick break. It sounds counterintuitive, but it’s true — just a few short minutes of breathing and mindfulness can help you set your stress aside and improve your focus and productivity when you attack your inbox.
Set a timer for five minutes. Start up some relaxing sounds or soft music if you like. Close your eyes, relax your shoulders, and take a few deep breaths from your belly, letting the air slowly rise up into your chest, all the way up to the top of your head. Inhale for four counts, hold for four counts, exhale for four counts, then hold for four counts before starting again. Focus on each count and how the air feels as it moves in and out of your body. Think about how your body feels through each breath, and if other thoughts enter your mind, acknowledge them and let them go.
While you do this exercise, don’t worry about how well you’re doing it — just try to stay in the moment. When your timer goes off after five minutes, you can return to your tasks feeling refreshed and ready to tackle each challenge as it comes.
If a DIY quick meditation isn’t for you or if you prefer a guided experience, a number of meditation apps are available for iOS or Android. Try Headspace, Calm, Healthy Minds, or The Mindfulness App.
How to attract millennial employees
According to a survey by Deloitte, by 2025, 75 percent of the workforce will be made up of millennials. As an employer, you must learn this generation’s motivations, needs and expectations to attract, engage and keep them in your company. Here are five things to consider.
1. Highlight values. Millennials want to work for a company with values that align with theirs. For them, a job isn’t just about a paycheck. It’s very much about having a purpose and making a difference.
2. Create flexibility. Millennial candidates are looking for a job that offers a work-life balance. For example, they’ll prioritize companies that offer remote or hybrid work schedules.
3. Prioritize advancement. Career progression is a top priority for millennial workers. They’re much more likely to stay at a company if they feel upper management is invested in their careers. Ensure you have strategies and policies in place to facilitate career progression.
4. Offer continued learning opportunities. Millennials want to advance and learn new things to progress in their careers. They’ll seek out employers who can provide these opportunities. Investing in training and development can help catch and keep their attention.
5. Embrace technology. Technology is essential to the millennial workforce. Therefore, integrating popular technologies and platforms into your business can give you a decisive edge in attracting this generation.
Ensure your company continues to grow and thrive by appealing to millennial employees.
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