Launching a new brand is exciting – you’ve seen a gap in the market and you’re ready to take advantage. For creative business founders and managers, this is the moment to seize the opportunity with the right new product.
However, the best new product in the world won’t succeed unless you get the basics right when running a business. So, in addition to thinking about what will get your product flying off the shelves – from smart customer research to great marketing – you need to think about the basics. Below, we deal with some of the issues you’ll need to address when launching a new brand.
The insurance you need
Liability insurance – This insurance protects your business in the event that someone brings a legal claim against it in various circumstances. For example, general liability insurance protects your business from claims that it caused injury to someone else or damaged another person’s belongings; it may also cover claims for other types of injury – such as libel or slander claims. Separately, professional liability insurance covers claims that you made some form of mistake when providing services; this cover is sometimes known as errors and omissions insurance.
Commercial property insurance – These policies protect a building that you own or rent in order to run your business – from a fire or a burglary, for example. It may also cover any equipment the business uses. It’s important to note that most insurance of this type does not cover damage from natural disasters such as earthquakes or floods. You may need a separate policy for that.
Workers’ compensation insurance – This coverage pays your employees benefits if they get hurt or sick from their job. These benefits can help pay their medical bills, replace lost wages while they are unable to work, pay for ongoing care, such as physiotherapy, and even cover funeral costs. Importantly, most states require businesses with employees to have workers’ compensation insurance in place. There are fines, penalties, and criminal charges for non-compliance.
Business income insurance – This protects you if you can’t run your business because of damage to your property; it pays out benefits that you can use to meet expenses such as rent, utility bills, and payroll costs while the business is closed. This type of insurance is also known as business interruption insurance.
Protecting your intellectual property
Trademarks – This is a word, phrase, or design – or a combination of these – that identifies your goods or services, and distinguishes them from the goods or services of others. A good example is Coca-Cola. You can protect your trademark by registering at the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), or its equivalents in other jurisdictions.
Patents – These protect your technical inventions, such as chemical compositions for pharmaceutical drugs, mechanical processes like complex machinery, or machine designs. A new type of machine to produce food would be one example. Again, you can protect your intellectual property by patenting it with the USPTO.
Copyright – This is protection for intellectual property in the form of artistic, literary, or intellectual work of a similar nature. The lyrics of a song perhaps. This protects your exclusive right to reproduce, distribute, and perform the work.
Dealing with regulation
Regulator – Not all industries are equally strictly policed, but in key areas where there is potential for consumer harm, standards are more stringent, and monitored by a central regulator. In the case of food and drink, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulates most products sold in the U.S. – including both products produced in the U.S. itself and those imported. The FDA’s regulations cover areas such as food safety, contamination, processing, labelling, facility registration, prior notice, and ingredients.
Health and safety – Employers have a responsibility to keep the people working for them safe, and in most countries, there are strict laws and regulations to hold them accountable. In the U.S., the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, an agency of the Department for Labor, is responsible for setting standards on workplace health and safety, and has a range of powers to investigate breaches. Employers are responsible for understanding all relevant regulations.
Marketing and advertising – the law requires marketing and advertising material to be truthful and evidence-based, and outlaws deceptive or misleading claims. Depending on the product you sell, there may also be some specialist requirements. The Federal Trade Commission, the U.S. agency responsible for consumer protection, has powers to take action against businesses that fall foul of the rules – and publishes a useful guide for small firms.
Imports and exports
Imports – If you’re importing goods into the U.S., such as raw materials for your products, you may need a licence or a permit. That’s not the case with many goods, but you will need to check with U.S. Customs & Border Protection (CBP) to be sure. And even if you don’t need a licence, you must fill out CBP entry forms within 15 calendar days of the date that your shipment arrives at a U.S. port of entry. You will need to provide your importer number on all these forms – also known as your Inland Revenue Service business registration number.
Exports – Different rules apply on exports, but there are limited circumstances in which you will need an export licence. CBP can provide further guidance. In addition, you will need to comply with the rules on imports of the country to which you are exporting because there may be tariffs to pay. The International Trade Administration has detailed advice, as well as lots of support on how to grow your business overseas.