Your business will have many assets. Some of them, such as premises, vehicles, plant and machinery, and office equipment are tangible assets and their value will seem clear to you. Others, such as your brand, designs, images and literal works, are known as your 'intellectual property'. They all have a value (in some cases, their value may be substantial) and you need to look after them as much as the tangible assets that belong to your business. Besides intellectual property, your business is likely to have other intangible assets such as know-how, intellectual capital and goodwill from customers and suppliers.
Your assets are sources of value to your business that can usually be converted to cash and as such they will normally appear on your business's balance sheet.
It is important that you identify all the assets that your business has, value them and protect them. The net book value of your tangible assets will be stated in your business's annual accounts. Protecting them means investing in suitable assets at the outset, maintaining them and using them properly. It could also entail insuring them and disposing of them in an appropriate way. This will improve the performance and processes of your business and reduce the overall cost of ownership for those assets.
Valuing intangible assets is trickier than valuing tangible assets, but you can download some tools from the Intellectual Assets Centre website to help you. You can protect your intangible assets by registering your business's patents, licences and intellectual property with the Intellectual Property Office. If you are expanding into new markets, where local companies may try to copy your intellectual property, make sure you first seek legal advice from a patent or trademark specialist. And have a plan in place for managing other assets such as your brand and relationships with customers. This might involve hiring a PR company or training staff to improve their telephone manner.
You can buy, sell, transfer and inherit both tangible and intangible assets. If you sell your business, then both the tangible and intangible assets will be crucial to its valuation. If you have any unique intellectual property assets, you may be able sell or license them to other organisations.