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Every Enterprise Hub business is unique, but certain challenges are common to every business – and some questions crop up again and again. We asked three Enterprise Hub Directors to choose a question they’ve been asked more  than a few times, and give us a quick answer...


If you’ve got a great business idea, you’ll want to know how to protect it if this fits your plan for market exploitation, says Sittingbourne Hub Director - JOHN DODD.

It may be that you have few avenues open for protection, and the main issue is to develop a strong brand quickly but this will depend on your aims for your product i.e. are you building a company to trade or looking to licence the idea on (it’s difficult to compare a start-up Biotech company with a new retail product business)? Remember the best use of limited available money may be to get quickly into the market rather than to develop patents that you cannot afford to defend. However, for many the following are the areas to consider sooner rather than later:

  • Trademarks: protect trade names, company names and logos.
  • Patents: protect new and innovative inventions.
  • Copyright: protects original literary, dramatic, artistic or musical work.
  • Database right: protects databases that have taken time, money or effort to establish.
  • Registered designs: protect the design element of whole or part of a product.
  • Design right: protects the appearance of functional products with no aesthetic appeal.

Adequate protection of these will give your company its best chance of gaining further investment, licence opportunities and will maximise your chance of earning money from your idea/product for longer.

Protecting your Intellectual Property (IP) can be a complex business, and you should consider seeking professional advice before deciding how to proceed. You can get specialist advice from the Enterprise Hub IP Support Service; ask your local Enterprise Hub Director


This is a perennial question for high growth companies. Once the initial “3Fs” (Friends, Family and Fools) funding sources have been exhausted, cash hungry companies have to turn elsewhere, but the type of funding you receive can have as much effect on your business as the amount, so you need to choose carefully, says thames valley Hub Director - ED COOPER

If you think now is the time for your business to consider refinancing, you should:

  • Define a clear business strategy for growth
  • Prepare your business plan to reflect your strategy and sell your proposition to potential investors (your local Enterprise Hub Director can help you with this)
  • Develop a succinct punchy presentation/pitch focused on market need and why customers will buy your product/service
  • Take on board advice and feedback. Use the Enterprise Hubs Investment Readiness programme and others as sounding boards
  • Use networks in a considered manner to get to potential backers – Business Angels, banks, grants, VC’s etc.

Your Enterprise Hub in partnership with Finance South East will be able to help with this process, determine your likely funding sources and put you in touch with relevant people.


Getting your sales and marketing right is crucial to the success of your business, says East Sussex Hub Director- JIM CHRISTY

To make sure you’re making the most of your sales and marketing opportunities, you’ll need to identify your customers and work out what they want from you, and what makes your product or service special. Writing a marketing plan will help you to do this, but you’ll need to have a clear idea of your objectives.

You’ll probably discover that you don’t know as much about your market as you need to, so you’ll need to start thinking about market research, and how to use it to gain an insight into your customers and how to interpret your findings to develop your business.

In addition to that you’ll need to understand your competitors - what do they do well and how you can differentiate what you do. Finally you need to think about how to reach your customers effectively - understanding all the possible sales channels, which ones are right for your business and developing the appropriate methods to tackle each one are all key stages in winning those vital orders

Your local Enterprise Hub will be able to advise you on all these issues, and point you in the direction of other help and support.

Author: Enterprise Hub Network Director - Marilyn Huckerby

Created Date: 17-12-2007


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