One of my greatest pleasures is helping someone start his or her new business. To play a role in such a pivotal (and sometimes scary) time in their lives is truly a blessing. You can sense the excitement, the nervousness and you can see they want to make it. The legal stuff should not be on a start-up businessperson’s mind and, quite frankly, neither should accounting (unless someone actually enjoys keeping books and taxes — I know I don’t). A simple 30-45 meeting with a lawyer and an accountant should knock those concerns about legality and finances out of a start-up’s mind so he/she can focus on the business. Countless hours on the internet researching corporate form, IRS requirements, permitting requirements, Georgia sales tax requirements, intellectual property rights, trademarks, contracts, licensing…it’s all time away from making a business grow. A good lawyer and good accountant will have your back because we really do love to see our clients succeed!
Good day with a good judge last Monday in Cherokee County State Court. I handled 6 probation violations (or VOPs as they are known). Usually, that’s automatic jail time and that makes good sense because probation is considered serving time; it’s just serving time outside of jail versus inside of jail. Screw up on the outside, they’ll put you inside. If you can’t behave with others, you get time out. But I had a good day Monday…and we had a good judge. Of the 6 VOPs I handled, 3 of them went home. Half. That’s a damn good outcome.
So what do we learn from this? One, it’s best to follow your terms and conditions of probation because you really don’t want to be in this situation to begin with. Two, if you do find yourself in this situation, it’s not always automatic jail time. The bottom line is this: the less malicious and intentional your violation is, the more likely it is that you too may go home.
If you are a landlord looking to collect $1,000 form a tenant, hire the collection agency. Most work on volume, work on fear, and keep 50% of the take. Simple enough. But if you are a business looking to collect a pretty substantial sum (say, $10,000 or more), why would you pay someone 50% to harass someone with dumb 10 second phone calls with no intention to file suit? Most won’t pay. THAT is the difference. When I am hired to collect, I send one letter. “My client has tried repeatedly to work with you and you’ve ignored them. Pay the full amount or get sued in 14 days. Period.” No harassing phone calls, no dirty tactics. That’s the reputation you want (Walmart has it). “We will work with you, just don’t mess with us or jerk us around.” And 50%? Good rate of return, but on true business cases, that’s a ridiculous fee. A demand letter, filing suit to show you are serious, and negotiation may cost $2,000 on a $10,000 collection, a savings of $3,000. And you’ve made a name for yourself while saving that cash. You’ve said you want to do business with others, but don’t take advantage.
Better and cheaper results while building your reputation. That’s how we roll…
Congratulations! You’ve made it! You started off small and grew your business into what it is today. Unfortunately, you also grew your target; meaning that the more successful you and your business became, the more visible you became to what I call “the business world snipers” who are hiding and taking aim — disgruntled employees, opportunistic contractors, competitors, angry customers who see you as a winning lottery ticket, you get the gist.
It takes more than insurance to protect yourself and your business from getting hit. Your contracts need to be well-written, sound, and they need to shift and limit liability. Every contingency must be taken into account, no matter how unlikely. Your name and your business name must be kept out of court records and your reputations need to be protected like the recipe to “Coke.” And you must protect yourself from those pesky things insurance typically doesn’t cover, like negligent hiring claims and sexual harassment. Your business form must be carefully chosen and the legal requirements followed to a ‘t.’
My office has handled mergers and acquisitions, franchises, and a whole lot of contract drafting, review, and negotiation. I know how to protect you and minimize that target you have on you. Let the business world snipers go ahead and take aim and watch as their cheap shots backfire…
I want to take this opportunity to tell everyone Happy Cinco De Mayo! Please drink responsibly and use UBER or a cab if you need to tonight as this is one of those nights that the cops will be out in full force!