Tuesday, September 30, 2014

The Hazard of Phenomenal Success

Previously, we have seen how even some large firms do not have a formal IP Strategy.

We have looked at how entrepreneurs can plan for success by making provision for IP rights they will need even if they do not develop them along the way to success.

But what if you are wildly successful?

 What could go wrong?

 Well, plenty actually.

Let's imagine you are a baseball player. You swing the bat. You connect with the ball. As you connect with the ball, you know. You just know. "This is going to be good! This one is going to go out of the ballpark!"

Entrepreneurs can get that thrill too. They can sense when they are about to hit it out of the ballpark. There is a thrill. With that thrill, there is also a deep terror.

Different levels of success, different challenges

When you are a new entrant, you develop IP to protect your ideas. You want to make sure none of your jealous neighbours copy your idea. As you grow, you strengthen your protection to make sure more significant competitors don't copy your idea.

Slings and arrows of outrageous fortune

But until you are successful, you have the protection that comes from flying beneath the radar. As you become successful, you begin to grow a target on your back. Your size makes you more noticeable and your new prosperity will attract opportunists.

Hitting it out of the ballpark

When I speak to entrepreneurs, I ask them about their ambition. How they will prepare for phenomenal success?

Because when they are wildly successful, a new class of challenge can materialise. When you make, as Steve Jobs called it, "a dent in the Universe", how will the Universe react? Especially if the Universe is lorded over by powerful incumbents.

This leads to a sequence of 4 questions:
  1) If your success is disruptive, who will you disrupt?
  2) How will they react to your disruption?
  3) What will they do to prevent you disrupting their business?
  4) What tools do you have to protect yourself then?

Now go back and look at your IP strategy for success.

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