“I didn’t think….”

People start new businesses everyday. Online ventures are easy and cheap to start. Cheap many times translates to “I don’t have to put a lot of thought into this”. Let’s be real, ok? When the internet was more expensive to access people thought out their plans more before hopping online. The “by the minute access” charges added up quick. If one is interested in starting a more traditional business (for example a store) the overhead costs alone would cause one to stop and think about what he or she is getting into. But with online, for some warped reason, the thought processes go out the door.

Not warped actually. I’ve been told many times the business owner didn’t think anything bad would happen to them (and that’s why lawyers will always have customers). Why? I have no idea. Like they are exempt from bad things happening or something. I’ve had people argue with me about editing comments when the law in their state says if they edit they will be financially responsible if someone sues. Yet these same people 1) can’t afford the fight and 2) would be the first in line looking for free help if something went down. What comment is worth taking potential unnecessary financial burdens?

Let’s look at an example of someone not thinking. Designer Carter Bryant lost the right to sell Bratz dolls because he thought of the idea while working for Mattel. He started the Bratz empire in 2001 – it took a long time for the legal system to catch up with him. Business school 101 will inform you that there is a huge conflict there – he came up with the concept while working with the company that would turn into his competition.

Mattel sued MGA Entertainment for $500 million alleging that Bratz creator Carter Bryant was working for Mattel when he developed the idea for Bratz. On July 17, 2008, a federal jury ruled that the Bratz line was created by Carter Bryant while he was working for Mattel. The jury also ruled that MGA and its Chief Executive Officer Isaac Larian were liable for converting Mattel property for their own use and intentionally interfering with the contractual duties owed by Bryant to Mattel. On August 26, the same jury found that Mattel would have to be paid US $100 million in damages, citing that only the first generation of Bratz had infringed on Mattel property and that MGA had innovated and evolved the product significantly enough that subsequent generations of Bratz could not be conclusively found to be infringing.

The manufacture of the dolls must stop immediately and the dolls have to be removed from shelves after the holiday season. 1500 jobs potentially down the toilet. Because he didn’t think.

Why do I say that? Because if he thought about it that tidbit – that he came up with the idea while working for Mattel – would never have seen the light of day. He would have saved up his money, quit, waited a decent amount of time and then launched his business. Yes, he would have made a reasonable effort to make sure Mattel couldn’t touch him. But who would think Mattel would come after him?

If you are attempting to do something that makes money think about what you’re doing and ensure you’re treating your business like a business. You’d be surprised how many of the big boys didn’t think their businesses would become as big as they are.

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