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Trademark basics for small business owners

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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.


About Trademarks

“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.

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Five tips to gain recognition at work

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Workers nationwide say they feel unappreciated at work. In fact, according to Inc. magazine, more than 60 percent of workers feel unappreciated on the job.

But there are ways to make yourself and your work shine.

1. Be positive and approachable. Accept assignments with a confident smile, and don’t be afraid to ask questions. Greet others cheerfully. Give people the benefit of the doubt. Stay out of the gossip mill. Show others that you value your company and your job.

2. Stay organized. Keep your obligations and deadlines top of mind. Keep your desk tidy.


3. If you want greater responsibility, talk to your boss. Summarize what you have achieved in the past and explain why you think you could contribute more.

4. Lift others up. Your colleagues are more likely to recognize your work when you notice and appreciate theirs.

5. Take the initiative. Offer possible solutions to problems when you see them — don’t wait for your boss to assign a task.

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CEOs fear recession in the near future

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No matter the day, week, or year, if you check out business headlines, there’s a good chance that you’ll read that the sky is falling. Thing is, one day, the doomsayers will eventually get it right. With 90 percent of chief executive officers predicting a recession, their fears may seem plausible.

Consulting firm KPMG conducted a survey quizzing 40 leaders at major American companies regarding their outlook. The results are that 91 percent of CEOs believe that a recession will occur within the next 12 months. Worse yet, many fear the economy may take a long time to recover.

Unemployment goes up in a recession because there is a decline in trade and business activity.

Unfortunately, such dour sentiments may morph into a self-fulfilling prophecy. Roughly half of the CEOs reported that they were planning layoffs. If business leaders move to position their organizations for a recession, such as instituting layoffs or reducing investments, it could create a drag on the economy. This, in turn, could generate a self-sustaining feedback loop with a souring economy forcing companies to take even more drastic measures.


There’s some good news, however. Many business leaders believe their company is now better positioned to deal with an economic contraction. Further, many company leaders hold a positive long-term view.

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How Facebook Marketplace got started

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Some of the biggest moves in the business world fly under the radar, even as they have a massive impact on organizations and society. While celebrity CEOs like Elon Musk make international headlines, Deb Liu never made the front pages when she launched Facebook Marketplace. Regardless, her efforts changed the way many people buy and sell.

Interestingly enough, Liu first pitched integrating commerce into Facebook during a job interview with the social media titan in 2009. Liu landed the job, but the commerce idea failed to gain traction for five years. Nevertheless, she persisted, and the project slowly snowballed.

Meanwhile, Liu helped set up the company’s Credits program, which people could use to play video games. She also worked on the Facebook Platform, which enables developers to use Facebook data to build applications and services.

Ultimately, Liu approached her time at Facebook with the mindset of an entrepreneur. She continued to pursue her vision for integrating commerce, and in 2016, Facebook Marketplace launched.


The rest is history. Facebook Marketplace drummed up $26 billion in revenue in 2021, and Meta says that a billion shoppers use the platform every month. These days, folks use Facebook Marketplace to run virtual garage sales or clear vehicles out of their garage.

As for Deb Liu, she left Meta in 2021 to pursue new ventures. She is the CEO of Ancestry.com, the world’s largest for-profit genealogy company. She also serves on the boards of business software firm Intuit and the nonprofit organization Women in Product, which encourages women to get involved in product management and development.

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Be determined to succeed against all odds

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As we all know, the odds are against us. Every day, people are born into poverty, people lose their jobs, people get sick, and people die. And that’s not even getting into the natural disasters that happen on a regular basis.

But here’s the thing: No matter what happens, you are never truly out of luck. There is always something that can help you turn things around.

And you’ll get the opportunity to succeed against all odds when you become a self-starter.

A self-starter is someone who is able to overcome obstacles and achieve greatness despite adversity.


As a self-starter, you are able to see the glass half full, not just half empty. You learn how to deal with failure and loss, instead of avoiding them. And you learn to take risks, instead of being afraid to try new things.

Self-starters aren’t born; they develop this trait through a combination of effort and experience.

Someone is always telling you that you can’t do it. But that’s just their problem. You are going to succeed against all odds and beat them.

You see, there is a big difference between what you think you can do and what you really can do. If you doubt yourself, you will never make it to the top.

If you have doubts, you will never succeed in life. If you don’t believe in yourself, who will?

You will need to have the determination to succeed. When you have that determination, nothing can stop you.

Do you know people who have overcome many odds to achieve their dreams? It’s not just people in movies but real-life people who have done things many would have said were impossible.

While there’s a difference between dreaming big and actually accomplishing that dream, there’s also a gap between dreaming and making it happen. You need to make it happen; if you want to do that, you must be determined to succeed against all odds.

It might seem like a silly thing to say, but you can achieve a lot if you have determination and ambition. Many people don’t have either, and that’s why they struggle to achieve anything in life.

When you’re determined to succeed, you can do a lot. You’ll have to work hard, but if you’re determined, you’ll be able to overcome any obstacles or challenges that stand in your way.

The main reason people fail to accomplish their goals is that they don’t have the right mindset and lose sight of what they want to do. As you can see, this is why you need to ensure that you have the right mindset and are determined to achieve your goals no matter what comes your way.

If you’re someone who isn’t successful in life, it’s likely because you never worked your butt off and you never gave anything a real chance. You might even have given up before ever getting started on your journey.

This mindset can work against you, but it’s not like you’re doomed to failure in life, so long as you want it bad enough. You don’t have to just settle for being average; instead, you can strive to improve.

You don’t have to do everything perfectly, but you do need to give yourself the chance to grow and develop. This means you need to try new things and make mistakes along the way. You need to do this to avoid failing and see what works and what doesn’t.

Once you see what works, you can apply that to other aspects of your life. This is especially true in business, where many people repeatedly fail until they get it right.

Even then, they keep on failing until they finally figure it out. Once you understand what you’re doing wrong, you can adjust accordingly. You’ll make mistakes, but you’ll learn from them, allowing you to become a better person.

You can attain success, but you must put in the work to get there. You can’t expect it to fall into your lap, nor can you simply wait around for it to happen. You have to be determined to succeed, and you have to work for it.

You might not succeed in everything, but you’ll improve at many things. If you’re working towards your goals, that’s a good sign, but you can also be working towards achieving new goals.

You’ll get a lot of ideas and inspiration from what others are doing, and you can take some of that and use it to develop your own ways of doing things. You don’t need to copy what others are doing blindly, but you do need to understand how they can succeed.

That’s how you’ll ultimately become a successful person, and you’ll realize that it doesn’t take much money or work. It’s actually about having the right mindset and being able to take a risk in your life.

The worst thing that you can possibly do is give up. Even if you fail miserably at something, you can still get up off the floor and keep trying because there’s always a chance to try again.

The more you try, the more you’ll learn. That’s the only way you can progress as a person, and you have to know that even if you fail, you won’t fall completely down in defeat.

If you can accept that no matter how bad your efforts are, you can keep trying and improving, then you’re well on your way to becoming a successful person.

When you fail, there’s a good chance that you’ll just give up. But you have to be strong enough to keep on going. Don’t let your failures define you and ruin your chances of success.

Even if you keep failing, you’ll learn something new every time. When you start learning how to succeed, you’re already making progress, so you should keep pushing forward.

If you can acknowledge your failures and just learn from them, you’re already on the right path to being a successful person. It doesn’t matter how often you fail as long as you’re determined to keep trying and keep trying until you finally succeed.

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How to make your mark when you start a new job

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If you recently landed a new job, congratulations! Now, you’ll need to show your employer why they made the right choice. Here’s how to make a good impression.

Prepare a game plan
Talk to your boss or immediate supervisor to determine how quickly you should advance in the first few weeks. This will prevent you from being blindsided and demonstrate your willingness to learn. Moreover, periodically keep your superiors updated on your progress.

Converse with your colleagues
Take advantage of opportunities to talk with other employees. This will help you get to know them. Short conversations can build relationships and help you understand the company’s unwritten rules, whether during lunch, on break, or in the hallway.

Be a team player
Show your colleagues that you’re useful and want to be an integral part of the team by offering to help whenever possible. Moreover, familiarize yourself with the current work and communication methods and accept invitations to corporate events.


Your first few weeks at a new job are important. Be punctual, don’t be afraid to ask questions, and demonstrate your strong work ethic.

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Are you making these two marketing mistakes?

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There are two big mistakes that you might be making when it comes to marketing, and they’re costing you thousands of dollars a year. In this article, I’ll share the mistakes that most people make in marketing and the ones that you should avoid.

Many people struggle to market themselves online. There’s a lot of competition, and it can be hard to stand out from the crowd. This is why you need to avoid these two common mistakes.

Marketers often make mistakes when they’re trying to promote their brand online. They spend lots of time creating content but neglect the rest of the marketing process.

Read on so that you can avoid these common mistakes and focus on what matters most.


So, don’t waste your precious time making these common mistakes!

Mistake #1: Focusing on Selling the Product Instead of Building Relationships.

When you’re trying to sell anything to anyone, it can be quite difficult. You’ve got to be able to come across as someone who is trustworthy, genuine, and who cares about the other person’s opinion.

If you try to sell something to someone who has no interest in what you’re offering, you’re going to have a really hard time getting through to them. It’s a fact of life that some people will always be indifferent to what you have to offer, and you need to understand that and prepare yourself accordingly.

If you focus too much on trying to sell yourself to the other person, you’re going to come off as a bit pushy, and that won’t be a good thing. Instead, you’d do well to focus on what the other person wants first.

What do they need? Is there a need that you can fill? If the answer to that question is yes, then you’ve got to go about finding out what that need is.

There are times when you can’t fill a need right away, so you have to focus on building a relationship first.

There’s a difference between having a sales conversation with someone and actually building a relationship with them. There are many people out there who want to make a sale without really caring to see how well their product will fit into someone else’s life.

When you’re looking to make a sale, you need to be looking to make a sale, and it can lead to you talking about yourself and your business all the time. That’s fine when you’re talking to someone who already knows who you are, but it’s not really an effective way of building a relationship with someone new.

When you’re talking to a prospect, you should focus on them, not you. This means you need to focus on their needs and how you can help them. If you want to make a sale, you need to ask questions showing how you can help them.

It’s not just asking the obvious questions, like “What do you need?” or “How can I help you?”. You need to ask questions showing how you can help them, which is only possible if you build a relationship with them.

Only when you’re talking with someone who trusts you can start asking them the real questions. This is one of the biggest reasons why most salespeople make no money.

In sales, you have to sell the product, but you’ve got to sell yourself as the one who can actually help them with their problem. When you build a relationship with someone, they’re more likely to trust and listen to you.

It’s hard to get people to trust you, and it’s even harder to get them to do business with you. By building a relationship, you’re actually getting a chance to prove yourself to them.

If you get past the small stuff and you really care about your customers, then they can trust that you can help them instead of just selling to them.

Mistake #2: Not Continually Following Up With Their List From Day 1.

I will tell you about the average list builder. They build their list But do nothing with it. Eventually, when the marketer has a hundred, or a thousand subscribers, they decide the time is right to send emails.

The problem is by that time, most people on their list forget who they are.

“Relationships” don’t get built, “products” don’t get sold, and no one wins.

If you’re the new marketer, is it any wonder you give up and go back to your 9 to 5 job?

This isn’t the way it should be done. It’s a major mistake. Here’s what you have to do instead.

Right from Day One, you have to begin sending consistent messages to your prospects so that they don’t forget you and begin to like and trust you.

Write a series of pre-written emails that go out automatically to your list. You actually need to create these emails before you get the first subscriber so that you are properly prepared.
This will allow you to focus on list building without having to worry about creating automated emails.

Everybody gets an email every day after they sign up. They have become accustomed to hearing from you and expect to hear from you – if you do it right, they’ll look forward to hearing from you. They are more receptive to what you have to say when you send an email to the entire list with your latest offer.

Don’t make the mistake of ignoring them and thinking that you can start messaging them once you’re finally ready. It won’t work like that because people have short attention spans.

Don’t make these two common mistakes

Do you ever wonder why some people are so successful while others are left behind? It is not their intelligence. It is not even their wealth.

It has everything to do with their ability to market themselves.

You can create a profitable, sustainable, and successful business by creating an effective marketing strategy. But sometimes, we do just enough marketing without understanding the key to success.

We’ve covered the two most common mistakes that people make when marketing themselves and their businesses.

If you want to become a successful entrepreneur, you must know how to market yourself effectively, and you must use digital marketing techniques to promote your business and build your brand.

If you’re interested in becoming an entrepreneur, now is the time to start doing things differently.

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6:30 pm Front Royal Wednesday Night Bingo @ Front Royal Volunteer Fire Deptartment
Front Royal Wednesday Night Bingo @ Front Royal Volunteer Fire Deptartment
Feb 1 @ 6:30 pm – 9:30 pm
Front Royal Wednesday Night Bingo @ Front Royal Volunteer Fire Deptartment
Bingo to support the American Cancer Society mission, organized by Relay For Life of Front Royal. Every Wednesday evening Early Bird Bingo at 6:30 p.m. Regular Bingo from 7-9:30 p.m. Food and refreshments available More[...]
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1:00 pm Front Royal Bluegrass Music Jam @ The Body Shop
Front Royal Bluegrass Music Jam @ The Body Shop
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Front Royal Bluegrass Music Jam @ The Body Shop
New Bluegrass and traditional music jam the first Saturday of each month starting Feb. 4th, from 1pm till 4pm. All levels of playing invited to attend.
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The Front Royal Chocolate Crawl is back for its 3rd year, and it is BIGGER than ever. With over 20 businesses on our list, you’re guaranteed to find something amazing (to purchase) and meet some[...]
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8:00 am Chocolate Crawl
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Feb 7 @ 8:00 am – 5:00 pm
Chocolate Crawl
The Front Royal Chocolate Crawl is back for its 3rd year, and it is BIGGER than ever. With over 20 businesses on our list, you’re guaranteed to find something amazing (to purchase) and meet some[...]
Feb
8
Wed
8:00 am Chocolate Crawl
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Feb 8 @ 8:00 am – 5:00 pm
Chocolate Crawl
The Front Royal Chocolate Crawl is back for its 3rd year, and it is BIGGER than ever. With over 20 businesses on our list, you’re guaranteed to find something amazing (to purchase) and meet some[...]
6:30 pm Front Royal Wednesday Night Bingo @ Front Royal Volunteer Fire Deptartment
Front Royal Wednesday Night Bingo @ Front Royal Volunteer Fire Deptartment
Feb 8 @ 6:30 pm – 9:30 pm
Front Royal Wednesday Night Bingo @ Front Royal Volunteer Fire Deptartment
Bingo to support the American Cancer Society mission, organized by Relay For Life of Front Royal. Every Wednesday evening Early Bird Bingo at 6:30 p.m. Regular Bingo from 7-9:30 p.m. Food and refreshments available More[...]
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8:00 am Chocolate Crawl
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Feb 9 @ 8:00 am – 5:00 pm
Chocolate Crawl
The Front Royal Chocolate Crawl is back for its 3rd year, and it is BIGGER than ever. With over 20 businesses on our list, you’re guaranteed to find something amazing (to purchase) and meet some[...]
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Fri
8:00 am Chocolate Crawl
Chocolate Crawl
Feb 10 @ 8:00 am – 5:00 pm
Chocolate Crawl
The Front Royal Chocolate Crawl is back for its 3rd year, and it is BIGGER than ever. With over 20 businesses on our list, you’re guaranteed to find something amazing (to purchase) and meet some[...]
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8:00 am Chocolate Crawl
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Feb 11 @ 8:00 am – 5:00 pm
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The Front Royal Chocolate Crawl is back for its 3rd year, and it is BIGGER than ever. With over 20 businesses on our list, you’re guaranteed to find something amazing (to purchase) and meet some[...]
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Feb 12 @ 8:00 am – 5:00 pm
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The Front Royal Chocolate Crawl is back for its 3rd year, and it is BIGGER than ever. With over 20 businesses on our list, you’re guaranteed to find something amazing (to purchase) and meet some[...]