Owning your IP: a smart way to business growth and resilience
In 45 minutes we did a brisk canter through some of the methodology I use when unearthing assets hidden within existing businesses to help them grow. Each different step had an illustrative case study, for which I purposefully chose small, owner/managed businesses. Why? Because if these businesses can find new revenues from within their existing operation – then it will be even easier for larger ventures. Your business’ size – big or small – isn’t a limitation here.
There are 3 main themes you need to consider when going through this process for yourself.
What intellectual property do you or could you own?
All companies own intellectual property. Without exception. And many have under-utilised intellectual assets sitting in various places in their businesses, including design consultancies.
How aware are you of the scope of what you own, and how working with your IP can help you grow your business?
Your first step it to get a basic grasp of IP and map what you already own.
For example, anything that you have turned from an idea into something tangible, such as an original drawing, presentation, app, image, interface, film or whatever is your copyright. It is an automatic right (so doesn’t need to be registered) and is a property right – which means you own it, so can licence it or sell it.
There are a wide variety of ways you can further develop and build aspects of your business around the IP you already, or could have.
What intellectual assets can you find within your business?
Imagine the store cupboard in your kitchen. It houses everything you’ve needed in your cooking life to date. Your intellectual assets are similar.
Your childhood, background, experiences, all the past clients you’ve ever worked for, all the skills, abilities, knowledge, data, everything that has got you to here now has value. And no-one in the history of mankind will ever have the same story. It is completely unique. Whether you are a freelancer, team or company.
By considered and careful appraisal of it with clear mapping, you will find rubies in that journey. You should be able to clearly differentiate your offer and business from your competitors, find new original products/services that only you can create.
Most companies don’t break their ‘route to here’ down in sufficient detail to get to the heart of who and what ‘ingredients’ sit within their business. Or understand how to effectively re-combine them in inventive (and profitable) ways. It takes imagination and application.
What new opportunities can you develop in five key market areas?
Each of my five key areas of opportunity have different aspects which allow you to tweak your existing offer, find new ways of working, come up with new products/services, look to adapt your business or revenue model.
They include :
Can your repackage what you know, do, ideas you’ve researched or remodelled to take back to them? Particularly at this time, when their businesses will all be needing support and inventive thinking that can take them forward.
Working with new clients allows you to alter and adapt the rules of engagement, so you could try inventive revenue models, asking for payment for success, back end splits etc on top of fees. There are lots of ways to shape your future projects.
Don’t overlook the value of developing solutions to pinch points and selling to your competitors, running events or other knowledge-based projects for them. Or how about you build a joint ‘grow your own’ apprentice model with some you admire?
The world is constantly changing with markets being continually disrupted. Who is entering the markets you know and how can you work with them?
What can you sell the person walking past in the street now? Don’t feel your business just has to be B2B. With your human-centred focus, what could you offer that person?
For example I wrote a business book that a plumber, hairdresser or app developer could pick up and use, yet it is also valued by design, tv production and innovation companies. So what could you do?
I love the design industry and have done for many years. Helping companies get off the ‘hamster on the wheel’ service model for some of their income gives me enormous pleasure. And it is possible to open up opportunities in so many new ways. All it takes is a really careful look at your journey and business today, to see where you could be tomorrow and in the years ahead.
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