By Mary Kernohan, head of nurture at SnapDragon Monitoring

According to the findings of the Rose Review’s 2022 Progress Report, a record number of start-ups are being founded by women in the UK today, with the growth of female venturers in Scotland outstripping male-led companies for the first time ever.

According to the data, over 140,000 all-female-founded companies were created last year, which means that in total over 20% of new firms are now led by women, which is a record high.

This study marks an exciting milestone for female entrepreneurs, and it shows how many are smashing through the hypothetical glass ceiling and building successful and profitable businesses, even in the face of a global pandemic.

I am proud to say that I work for a female-led start-up called SnapDragon Monitoring, an online brand protection company. Everyday in my career I help protect innovative businesses against the risks posed by counterfeits, and I have witnessed first-hand how many budding entrepreneurs have had the dreams and ambitions shattered at the hands of the threat.

As a result, I want to offer some advice to these exemplar female business leaders on how they can protect their businesses, products and innovations from counterfeiters.

Today it is estimated that 20 percent of UK SMEs have been affected by counterfeits, so never wrongly assume you are too small or unknown to be targeted. No industry is immune to the threat.

Today, criminals are earning billions of pounds every year by producing pirated versions of successful products, to either to sell them for cheaper or to dupe consumers into purchasing fakes under the guise of genuine brands.

These criminals are masters in their art and detecting a counterfeit is an almost impossible task to the untrained eye, so consumers get duped every day and the impacts are far greater than just lost revenue. Fakes rarely go through safety checks and are often manufactured in poor conditions using hazardous materials and processes. When these are purchased by consumers, it is their health and safety that is put at risk. This all puts genuine brands at risk, with negative reviews posted to their websites, bad publicity about them in the media and irreparable damage to their reputation.

This means being vigilant for counterfeits must be at the top of any entrepreneur’s agenda. So, what are the best ways to protect against the threat?

  1. Firstly, register your Intellectual Property (IP). IP is one of the most important, yet confusing, forms of brand protection. By registering your IP in all the regions you trade in, this will stop others from starting copycat brands in a bid to bank on your success.
  2. Secondly, use online protection solutions which proactively scan the web for counterfeits of your products and work to get them taken down before they can cause harm.
  3. Thirdly, and most importantly, warn your customers about the risks posed by counterfeits and fakes. If a fraudster has made a copycat of your product, communicate its risks to customers and warn them against buying it.

This new report is very encouraging, however, as businesses succeed, they become a more lucrative target for scammers. I would therefore urge them to be vigilant of the risks of counterfeits, adding the threat to risk registers and doing everything they can to protect their brands.