dominik-dombrowski-80197.jpgThe holiday season offers a chance for reflection and thought, not only on months and years past, but our current positions and where we see ourselves in the near future. For business owners, the process of assessing the past, present and future is necessary for planning your next steps. But mistakes made in the past can have serious implications for the future.

Overlooking the intellectual property (IP) you've created in favor of other tasks can seem prudent at the time, but can come back to haunt you later. IP is the foundation upon which you build your business; it makes up 80% of the value of your business in its early stages. What sets you and your fledgling venture apart is the unique ideas that you are bringing to the market and the unique work that you are creating. Without the right protections to safeguard your works, you're leaving yourself vulnerable to having your works taken by others, without the necessary tools to fight back against infringement. Failing to get trademarks, copyrights or patents for what you've created at the time can be a costly mistake.

Looking at what you are currently working on is another important part of protecting your IP. Many entrepreneurs have a limited view of what is or isn't their intellectual property. Inventions and products are rightfully given plenty of intention, but what about the logos you've created, the copy you've written for your website and marketing material? All of the material that is created around your product represents your brand as much as your product itself, and if you aren't taking the necessary steps to make sure that your branding material is protected (and that it isn't infringing upon anyone else's), you face the risk of having to start over.

Moving forward, implementing a plan for dealing with new intellectual property works can help to prevent creative ideas from falling through the cracks or lapses in IP protection. Periodic review of what you're working on currently and what you've come up with the the preceding period is a good opportunity not only to assess your overall goals, but to take stock of the IP generated by you and your employees or contractors and figuring out the best method to protect and monetize it. While you can't change past IP mistakes, you can home to prevent future ones.