Starting a new business is exciting and scary and brings with it a lot of necessary planning
and research to be successful. Trademarks, logos, domain names, business plans, patents,
and communication links with employees and customers all play a part in the process to
build a profitable business.
If you’ve got that one-in-a-million idea, be sure and check to see if someone else just got a
patent on the same one. FreePatentsOnline provides auto alerts on new patents, gives you
browse capability by categories – finance, software, paper products (think Post-it notes) –
completes searches for patents, and has information on top patent companies – HP, Apple,
IBM, etc. The FreePatentsOnline advanced searches sort time ranges chronologically, look
for words stemmed from other words, and more. Users of FreePatentOnline can download
patents in PDF, subscribe to their RSS feeds, and attach FPO patent searches to the Google
Start-up businesses are faced with a list of challenges; business contacts are one of the largest.
Networking with companies and knowing who to contact within those companies, can be make
-or-break moments for contract awards, proposals, or getting through the door with you
Jigsaw, an online service, takes users inside company information that will help them access
the right department and the right person for their pitch. With six (6) million plus business
contacts within 300,000 companies, the Jigsaw data base is where newbies need to start.
An easy to use, cost effective choice for positioning a company for growth, the process is
surprisingly simple. After sign-up, users can browse through companies sorted in alpha
order or by industry, states, cities, and submit requests for a specific contacts. If it’s in
the database, Jigsaw gives you details such as name and title, address, telephone and
email info. Their payment system is based on Jigsaw points. For each point purchased,
you pay $0.20. Your other option is to “earn” points by submitting new contacts or make
a correction to a contact in the Jigsaw database and get ten (10) points. You start with the
fifty (50) points that Jigsaw gives you for registering.
An international source for patent information, Patents.com is a web based service listing
over 450 million patents in fifteen (15) languages. Information-rich with FAQs and other
research specifics on basic and advanced patent details, Patents.com has four options for
searches – simple, advanced, expert, and bulk. Within those options, users can browse by
keywords, terms, etc. Patents can be viewed in text or images and are available with
4. Google Patents
Google Patents is an online service that provides details on patents registered in the U. S.
Patent and Trademark Office. The huge database has over seven (7) million patents. Patent
searches provide data on the holder of the patent, important patent dates, classifications
of the patent, and other parties linked to it. Individual patent product claims are included
in the searches, along with any thumbnail images attached to the patent. The complete file
on the patent can be downloaded and saved as a PDF. More detailed information within a
patent can be collected. Advanced searches can be done using multiple filters.
Business plans are a necessary evil if you want your new business to start successful and
stay successful. If you need a cash infusion, all business lenders require a business plan.
Enloop, a web based service, has a basic template to assist you with a business plan
personalized to your industry, location, owners, funding, market, etc. The business plan
can be downloaded to your computer as a PDF document. Enloop has its own scoring
feature (EPS) which scores your business plan as you develop it. EPS is an algorithm
that predicts your business idea’s potential for failure or success from the details of
your business plan. After you use Enloop for one business plan, there are two fee-for
-service plans to choose from.
6. Reward Card Wallet
People with wallets straining at the seams with a pile of loyalty cards and/or coupons or
key chains filled with loyalty tags, take heart. There is Reward Card Wallet. This online
service also provides a welcome way for businesses to market through smartphones,
pushing up sales and branding. Reward Card Wallet integrates with services like
Living Social and Groupon, making it easy to store loyalty card details in digital format
on smartphones. Through push notifications or location SMS, users of Reward Card
Wallet receive an alert when there is a store nearby where you have a loyalty card on
file; you also get alerts if that business has posted a promotion or sale in the Reward
Card Wallet database. Customers save money. Businesses add to their bottom line.
United States only.
Ensuring that the trademark you’ve chosen for your new company isn’t already on the
market will save you financial and legal headaches. The Markify web based service will
search their databases in the U. S. (USPTO data) and Europe (CTM data) for trademarked
company names using keywords the same or similar to yours. The search reveals if the
keyword’s domain name is open for use and provides you with a list of similar trademark
names in the U. S. and Europe. The more unique your trademark the less confusion there
will be with other products. Free. www.markify.com
A quick way to create an abbreviated business plan, PlanCruncher is an online tool that
guides you through the process. The basic steps are:
1. Complete six sections on the PlanCruncher template – Business Idea, Product,
Revenue, Funding, and Partnership
2. Enter additional, brief info as requested
3. Read your new business plan that PlanCruncher creates with your information.
At your request PlanCruncher will critique your business plan and give you suggested
changes. Your business plan can be downloaded in PDF format.
Something a little different, Remindo is an online intranet for small to medium sized
businesses. It helps company employees, managers, and customers all stay in touch
confidentially while completing collaborative projects efficiently. Remindo gives each
company a unique URL and will add the company’s customers to the dashboard. Its
basic intranet communication tools include file hosting to expedite communication,
instant messaging, and private tweets.
Remindo has extra benefits with their project management tools. They include individual
tasks, alerts, milestones and status activity, and feeds. The free plan has 3GB of space for
storing files. www.remindo.com
GeoDomainMap is another tool GoDaddy has added to their arsenal of convenient online
features. Users can search for potential domain names by location (city, state, zip code,
or map zoom), name, or keyword. If available, you book your choice on the spot or put
the name on your wish list. In addition to producing a list of domain names available,
GeoDomainMap lets you view the domains on sale with purchase options.
Most new business owners don’t have extra cash to hire someone to do trademark searches,
yet the last thing you want to do is infringe your logo or slogans on someone’s trademarked
ones. Trademarkia, a web based search engine, will search all registered trademarks in the
United States since 1870 to ensure you are not imposing on another company’s rights.
Searches can be filtered by names, logos, brands, themes, products, services, companies,
etc. The search includes dead and active trademarks.
Another web based tool to research the availability of domain names and company names,
Wordoid moves a step ahead and makes suggestions for names based on the search terms
you use. Your search will include both domains with .com and .net tags and their availability,
and the frequency the name you chose appears on the Net. Wordoid works in four (4) languages
– Spanish, Italian, French, English – and registers the names through GoDaddy.com.