The Fear of Contracts

I talk a lot about contracts (Let’s get real, they are my bread and butter). Contracts are the foundation of any successful business. They act as roadmaps guiding the parties to a successful business transaction. They anticipate potential issues and create a mechanism to resolve them. I’ve seen some clients fear contracts. They avoid having well written, comprehensive contracts for the fear of losing clients. I recently spoke to a …

Copyright Law is no Monkey Business

A few weeks ago, I was listening to a podcast which discussed a strange lawsuit. One filed by a monkey! The gist of the case was that a photographer named David Slater was in the jungles of Indonesia when a monkey named Naruto pressed the camera button and took a selfie. But Slater had positioned the camera, experimented with various setups, configured the camera settings and mounted it on a …

Growing Pains and How to Handle Them

Growth is key to any business. While growth means big numbers, it also means adding to your problems. Hiring people to help you, increased client intake, increased revenues are all indicators of growth. Growth comes with its own problems of building a good team, managing and retaining good talent, creating systems for easy payments and collections, complying with regulations, and protecting and securing your work products. These are all good …

New Year New You – Armed With a Contract Checklist

It’s the new year and if you’re like me, you’re taking inventory of documents that you use or have in your business (and if you’re not, it’s time to make that your New Year’s resolution), whether they relate to taxation, payables, receivables or even contracts that may be expiring and need to be renewed. Or it may well be that you are entering into a new business relationship and you …

The Battle of Names – How to Determine Trademark Rights

When I was at a business owners’ workshop recently, an entrepreneur who is on her way to starting a corporate consulting business shared that she had come up with a name for her business. She wanted to call it  “Leading Change”. But there was a book out there with the same title and she asked the business coach if she would be infringing on the author’s trademark rights. Being the …

Making Money with Copyrights

I always tell my clients that if they’ve created something, they should copyright it because that can make you money. While it costs just a few hundred dollars to get copyright registration, it could earn you tens of thousands of dollars – cha-ching! This is possible because of statutory damages under the U.S. Copyright Law. A photographer client sued someone for using his photographs without permission or license, and was …

A Sale is not a Gift

One of the biggest issues that businesses deal with is late and/or non-payment of invoices. The problem stems from either infrequent invoicing, irregular collections, or worse, insufficient documents. Rachel, a client and fashion designer, has been dealing with a non-paying customer for a few months. She sold merchandise worth $100,000 to one customer in California. Apart from an initial payment of $15,000 made 2 years ago, the customer has failed …

Your Word Against Mine – Are Oral Contracts Sufficient?

I have a client who is just starting a new apparel business. She hired a designer friend to design fabric prints for her line. She asked me if an oral agreement is valid and sufficient with her friend. People ask me this question a lot! My answer is consistently a resounding “No!”. I’ve seen clients lose a lot of money and at times their business because they didn’t have written …

The Emotions of a Cease and Desist Letter

Last week, a client who is a business coach, received a cease and desist letter from a competitor demanding that she stop using “Financial Journey” for her program. The competitor alleged that they had a trademark registration for “Money Journey” and my client’s use of “Financial Journey” was infringing on their trademark registration.   My client first went into a defensive mode and then her emotions took over. She went …

Calling your Bluff – Misclassification of Employees as Independent Contractors

In your business, you may hire employees or independent contractors or both. But I have seen many businesses misclassify employees as independent contractors only to run into trouble with the IRS. And you really don’t want to wake up that beast! Employees and independent contractors may practically do the same kind of work and spend the same amount of time doing the work. But from a legal perspective, there are …