Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Read the Contract

I have seen so many cases over the years where people have made one of the biggest mistakes of their lives by signing agreements that they did not understand.  Link.  
Every day, all across the country, thousands of businesses put their companies in jeopardy when they rush to sign contracts. They don’t read them, they don’t understand them and they are not prepared for the consequences. It’s the opposite of I came, I saw, I conquered: I rushed, I signed, I regretted.
Don't make the huge mistake of taking on unknown obligations.   If you don't completely understand the contract that you are asked to sign, consult a lawyer.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

A Legal Introduction to Memorandums of Understanding, Letters of Intent, and Term Sheets

Preliminary negotiations result in a variety of tentative pre-contract documents being produced. . . A commonly reoccurring litigation issue is whether or not the provisions of a pre-contract document are mandatory and binding.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Friday, April 15, 2016

My Phone App Recommendations for Small Business

This post is not about law or lawyers.  It is about apps on my iPhone that I use everyday in my business.  They all contribute to keeping my business life better organized and managed. If you are not using any of these, I recommend giving them a test drive. 

Evernote:  Evernote caused a transformation in my office.  I no longer have a file cabinet full of documents.  Everything is in Evernote, organized into notebooks and with tags that make finding anything a cinch.  The phone app complements the desktop program, and allows me to have in my pocket and thus at my fingertips my full history of office documents for clients, billings, administration, etc.   Download from App Store

Wunderlist:  I tried at least a half dozen to-do apps before I found Wunderlist.  It is by far the best, in my opinion.  I have lists for clients, administration, marketing, personal, and even bucket (list).  It is simple to assign due dates and to schedule recurring events.  I start everyday with the “Today” view, but inevitably also check out the “Week” view to see what is coming up.  Of course, it syncs with the Wunderlist web page and Windows 10 app on my desktop computer.  I am not sure I how I ever managed without it.  Download from App Store

MileIQ:  Using the GPS on my iPhone, this app tracks every drive that I make.  Later, categorizing each drive as “business” or “personal” is as easy as a swipe left of a swipe right.  I now make sure that I never miss a mileage deduction.  Download from App Store

Outlook:  I have 2 Gmail accounts; one business and one personal.  The Gmail app only lets me see emails for one account at a time.  Moreover, to see my calendar, I have to open the separate Google Calendar app.  Outlook combines all of that into one for me.  It displays both of my email accounts at the same time, and includes a calendar feature.  Very convenient.  Download from App Store

1Password:  If you are like me, you have too many login credentials to count (or remember).  I now keep 75 (and growing every week, it seems) login user names and passwords in 1Password, which is secured by a master password and/or touch (fingerprint) ID.    Download from App Store

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Can You Start a Business Without a Lawyer?

For what it is worth, this article is by a marketing specialist, not a lawyer.  Excerpt.
You’re setting up a business, and there are lots of expenses. Do you really need to pay for the services of a lawyer, too? How hard could starting a business be?

The answer is: Pretty hard. A lawyer ensures that you’re protected, both legally and financially. It’s a bad idea to begin by breaking business laws. . .
Half of new businesses fail within five years of establishment. There are multiple reasons companies collapse, and some are out of their owners’ control. But a lawyer’s expertise can help you avoid many pitfalls. Here’s a sampling of some of the complexities lawyers handle, along with a few tasks that you can manage on your own. . . 

Friday, April 1, 2016

Five keys to hiring the right attorney for your business

Running a successful closely held business is no small feat. You have myriad responsibilities and endless demands for your time and attention. 
Why then risk hiring an attorney who adds to — instead of eliminates — your headaches?  A good attorney is your partner in business who can help you efficiently and successfully navigate legal issues so you can concentrate on running your company.
Read on for five key areas that will help you secure the right attorney for your business. . .
Link to the whole article here.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

LLC vs. Corporation

A question that I get frequently from startups is "should we form a corporation or an LLC"?  Here is a good summary of the pros and cons of each. 

Friday, March 25, 2016

10 Big Legal Mistakes Made By Startups

I recommend reading this article if you are a small business owner with partners.  Excerpt on tip #1. 
You absolutely have to agree with your co-founders early on what the deal is among you. Not doing so can cause enormous problems later (see, for example, the Zuckerberg/Winklevoss Facebook litigation). . .

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Tips for successful debt collection for small business

A major challenge for every business owner is the arduous task of collecting past due account receivables.  All too often, bill goes unpaid and a business owner is forced to take action to collect payment.  Along with the business choices involved in deciding when to chase down an unpaid debt, there are important legal considerations to keep in mind.
The whole article is worth reading.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

The importance of a founders' agreement for a startup

While there is no agreement over exactly how, there is widespread agreement over the value of forming some sort of agreement among company founders — sooner rather than later in the life of the company.
The power of these sorts of agreements may be as much a function of the conversations that are had in order to put these conclusions into place as it is a function of the formal agreement/document itself.  The goal of the conversation/agreement is to have an open and honest discussion of the attitudes, fears, and aspirations of, as well as the arrangements among the individuals involved with the startup in the hopes of minimizing the likelihood of debilitating surprises later in the life of the company.
Click the link to read it all.  

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Every small business should have an outside general counsel

Do You Really Need a Business Attorney? Yes, and Here Are 3 Reasons Why.  Excerpt--
While it’s smart to hire an attorney when you’re facing a serious legal risk, it’s even smarter to hire one before the risk arises in the first place. In other words, you need access to an attorney at all times–not just when you find your business in hot water.
Link to full article.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

9 Ways to Negotiate a Contract Like a Boss

There are things in life that people only learn to do the hard way. Negotiating contracts is one of them. . . .
[Tip # 2].  I may know what I want out of a contract business-wise, but I certainly don’t know how to write one in such a way that protects my interests. I always have my lawyer review anything I sign. Don’t get me wrong, I try to do as much as I can on my own, in part because I enjoy negotiating. I feel pretty confident about my skills after all these years. But at the end of the day, I need his help, because I’m not a legal expert.
Click the link to read all 9 tips.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Top Legal Issues Facing Small Business - Webinar

In this NFIB Small Business Webinar we tackle common legal issues that face most small businesses by tracking the life-cycle of a fictional small business. We start with a potential business owner’s idea and track the legal issues that arise as she sets her business up, begins to operate it, hires people to do some work for her, and eventually plans what to do with it as she prepares to retire, sell the business, or leave it to her heirs.
From how to choose the type of business you should establish to protecting your business from employment penalties, this webinar will walk you through the latest legal issues all employers face at some point in their small business.

How to Buy Out Your Business Partner

Business partnerships end for a wide number of reasons. Some are friendly, amicable, and in the best interest of both parties--while still others can reach a bitter, nasty end.
Whatever the reason is, if you want to keep your business, but your partner has to go, here's everything you need to know to successfully buy out your business partner. . . 
Even if your relationship with your partner is amicable, and even if you are working from a clearly outlined partnership agreement, it is in everyone's best interest to hire an experienced acquisitions attorney to negotiate your buyout.
Working with an acquisitions attorney will help you ensure that your buyout conforms correctly to state and local laws, appropriately honors the initial partnership agreement, and that all parties understand and agree to the terms. The cost of hiring a professional is worth avoiding any headaches or conflict down the line over buyout terms that were mishandled or unclear.
Link to full article here.  

Friday, February 12, 2016

How to hire a business lawyer

There are two professionals every business will need early on: an accountant and a lawyer. The reasons for hiring an accountant are pretty obvious . . . The reason for hiring a business attorney may not, however, be so apparent.
The whole article is worth reading.

Monday, February 8, 2016

Starting a business in Minnesota

The 2016 (and 34th) edition of "A Guide to Starting a Business in Minnesota" is now available for free.

The 2016 edition of “A Guide to Starting a Business in Minnesota” is now available from the Small Business Assistance Office at the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) in St. Paul. The popular guide, which is now in its 34th edition and free of charge, provides a concise summary of the major issues faced by anyone starting a business in Minnesota.

You can download it or order CD-ROM or hard copy here