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Sales Advice to a Young Designer

(My daughter wants to set up a design business, she asked me how to register the business name - this is what I wrote to her. I believe it has general application for others starting out in business.)

Hi Sabine,

There are multiple reasons for not yet registering a trade mark / business name.

To register, you employ a trademark / patent agent. and you have to pay them. It starts out with some modest amount , but you will get billed for renewals and additional coverage forever after. It gets very expensive.

Next, the protection that you hope for is illusory; if another business wants to use the same name or trademark, they can until you get a court judgement to stop them. This takes lots of time, effort and money.

If a business based in another country starts using your name, you have to sue them in that country. Not easy if it happens to be China or India, for example.

From a practical point of view, protecting your trading name is achieved sufficiently as soon as you open a bank account in the name you have chosen. It doesn't have to be Pterodactyl Designs Ltd, you can have a 'trading as' account.

Your account name would be Sabine Seviour T/A Pterodactyl Designs. 'Trading as' is a normal, free and commonly used trading style (in the UK). Once you have such a bank account, your business stationery could be headed Pterodactyl Designs, and at the bottom of the page, you would write 'Sabine Seviour trading as Pterodactyl Designs'.

Don't register a limited company at this stage - loads of paperwork, expense, worry, pressure (UK).

Leaving aside the points above, far more important is to have a business plan which is based on an accurate understanding of your market.

Who will buy the product?
How much will they pay?
What will it cost you to produce and ship the product?

The simple way to get this information is to make a sample batch of your products and try and sell them. You will learn a great deal in the process.

Don't spend any money until you have done this practical research. 
Don't put off this step for a long time, while you try and reach perfection in your product. Trying to get sales is way more important.

Don't spend hours and days at the computer, look for buyers at the earliest opportunity.
You don't need stationery, bank account, registration or anything other than the product. Call people on the phone, or visit them if local and say, 'I'm a young designer, I have some products I want to market, can I show them to you?'

You will learn a lot doing this. Don't worry about people stealing your designs, that's a small risk.

Your product must have a viable market, if it doesn't, you are wasting your time and this will lead to frustration and depression.

Test, test, test.

If you enjoyed this article, take a look at my book.

The Selling for Engineers manual

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