I am very interested in starting my own business. I have recently graduated and will be licensed in my field in October. I need to know where to start … I do not know if I need a patent attorney, lawyer, etc. for my idea that I do not want anyone to steal … it is a unique situation. I need help to find sources to protect my idea number one and two funding to promote and build my idea. I also live in Illinois and want to have to go to business really in California.
These are typical problems that entrepreneurs face everyday. If you do not have a friend or family member that could advise you (and perhaps help you with financing) I would recommend that you start by drafting a business plan (or hiring a team to help you in this capacity).
When choosing a team you may want to look for someone who can coach you through the early stages of your company. Of course all of this will cost you money. So there you have the typical chicken and egg problem.
Many of the young companies that I advise begin by raising $50-100k from their friends and family. That seed round helps them to reach a few milestones (obviously the milestones vary by company): the creation of a business plan, a presentation for potential investors, a prototype, development of the management team and beginning to secure VC funding.
As far as confidentiality, this is always going to be a concern. My advice is to have anyone you discuss the idea with sign an non-disclosure agreement (NDA) at this early stage.
Filing a patent will cost a lot of money so you want to make sure that a patent will truly protect your idea before you go down that path. Are you planning to move to California? Unfortunately I do not know enough about what you are doing to advise you on the issue of living in Illinois and planning a business in California. I will say that laws vary from state to state so you may want to contact a California attorney to answer your legal questions.
For more information, read the following articles:
- How to Protect Your Business Ideas
- 5 Actions You Must Take to Assure a Successful Invention
- 12 Steps to Filing a U.S. Patent Application
- How Intellectual Property Affects Your Business
Recommended Resources on How To Protect Your Idea
- Protect Your Great Ideas for Free!: First Steps That Must Be Taken to Protect the Valuable Ideas Generated by Every Small Business Owner, Inventor, Author, and Artist
- Protecting Your Ideas: The Inventor’s Guide to Patents
- Pricing Your Medical Billing Service
- Angel Financing: How to Find and Invest in Private Equity
Article originally published in May 2001. Updated March 1, 2012
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