Many new startups have some intellectual property they need to manage and protect, but this can be especially true for new technology companies. After all, it is the innovation and the new idea that is at the heart of your startup, so how do you manage your ideas and your intellectual property in a way that’s efficient, effective and budget-friendly?

Below are some tips and key things every tech startup should know when it comes to the management of their IP.

It’s important

If you have an idea, even if it hasn’t yet made you any money, it’s important. So many tech startups get caught in the whirlwind of their new idea, but they don’t have the same level of enthusiasm when it comes to protecting it, and that’s often one of the biggest obstacles to success.

You need to take the time to research and understand the varying levels of IP protection, how they can be used, and how you can obtain these protections. This process also needs to be started sooner rather than later, because it can be a lengthy one.

If you launch your company before applying for patents, your technology is already out there and available to the public, which is not only risky but can also make it harder to actually get the patent.

It’s important to your investors

Along with some tech startup founders not recognizing the general importance of managing their IP, they also don’t realize how important it’s likely to be to potential investors. Investors are going to want to see what copyrights, trademarks, and patents your tech company has before handing over an investment, so make it easy for them.

Something like a secure data room is one of the safest and most convenient places you can store all of your IP information, including various documents and patent applications so that qualified potential investors can quickly but securely access it.

Related: 10 Ways To Defend Your Intellectual Property

Always monitor your patent portfolio

You’ll notice with a tech startup that nothing stays the same for long. Your products and objectives are likely to be constantly evolving, so you need to make sure your patent portfolio is keeping up.

Even once you’ve developed a strategy for managing your IP, make sure you’re regularly monitoring it to ensure that it’s keeping up with any changing needs you might have. You also want to always be thinking about the future to make sure you maintain adequate protection into the future, especially as filing and receiving patents and protections can be such a lengthy experience.

Take a DIY approach initially

When you’re a tech startup, you probably don’t have a huge budget to hire expensive outside professionals to help you successfully navigate patents and IP management. What you can do is learn how to take a DIY approach in many areas. For example, you can start your own searches by using Google Patents, which is a robust resource of existing patents.

You can also visit ustpto.gov/trademark to see a database of trademark registrations and applications. Then, once you’ve done this you can outline the specific areas of IP within your tech startup where protection is needed, and once you feel sufficiently prepared, you can contact a patent lawyer to help you with the technicalities. Starting with a DIY approach can help you educate yourself and also save money.