Business Deals Gone Wild! Part 2

By Jamie Moore Marcario

In part 1, we explored why business owners have to know how to negotiate deals in a way that diminishes the amount of conflict involved as much as possible. In addition to draining your financial resources, business disputes can result in serious fights, and even lawsuits, that suck up precious time and energy to resolve. The key to avoiding these scenarios is to set clear boundaries and realistic expectations at the outset of entering any business relationship or signing any professional agreement. In doing so, you set yourself up for positive outcomes rather than negative consequences.

Let’s face it. We would all rather completely avoid conflict when it comes to business matters, but that is virtually impossible.  So it is imperative that you are prepared to address business disputes appropriately and head on when they arise.  To help you achieve the best outcome possible when business deals go wild, we at Thrive Law offer you these 5 strategies for getting your dispute from Wild to Mild as quickly and efficiently as possible.

  1. Clarify What You’re Fighting About:

    You know what you want. But are you sure you know the other party’s desired outcome for resolution? If not, be sure to ask clarifying questions to be sure you understand the other party’s point of view, their wants, their concerns, and their desires. Once you’re clear on what “they” want, get clear on what you want as a resolution, too. This requires asking yourself some tough questions and coming face to face with your ego. While it may be challenging, this is not the time to let your ego dictate the outcome. Instead, let the voice of reason decide the best result for you. Although it’s tough to see what’s going on at the heart of a dispute while emotions are running high, that’s the time to step back and see the dispute with fresh eyes. If you’re having a difficult time with this step, speak with a trusted advisor (like the great team at Thrive Law) to help you find the clarity you need to make good decisions.

  2. Make Offers without Admissions:

    So now you find yourself squarely in the midst of the dispute resolution process and you just want it to be over. However, be careful during this time that your desire to get it over with does not cloud your judgment when offering options for resolution. Instead, be mindful to propose win-win solutions where possible, but do so “without prejudice” or any admission of guilt or liability. That way, if you end up in court, your resolution offer cannot taint your legal case.

  3. Try Alternative Dispute Resolution Techniques:

    Lawsuits are generally a lose-lose for everyone involved. So before you have that attorney file that lawsuit, attempt to resolve your business dispute through alternate means, like informal settlement conferences, collaborative dispute resolution, mediation, or arbitration. To ensure these options are available to you, be sure that every business and professional agreement you sign has alternative dispute resolution provisions built in. While it sounds great to “you’re your day in court,” it’s generally better for you and everyone you love to resolve matters outside of the courtroom whenever possible.

  4. Don’t Fight for Your Legal Rights on Principle:

    If you want to avoid going a lawsuit over a business dispute—and it’s usually in your best interest to do so—make a truly good-faith effort to reach a mutually beneficial solution with the other party. Find a resolution that protects your legal rights while giving the other party something that they need or want, too. Feeling a little lost about how to accomplish this? The team at Thrive Law can help as a key part of our mission is to help our clients resolve disputes out of court whenever possible by identifying how the respective parties’ needs can be met and where there are commonalities that can be leveraged to facilitate agreement in the conflict resolution process.

  5. Watch your Language:

    Settlement offers can be complicated. The way an agreement is worded or structured can affect the outcome, especially if that outcome is a financial judgment. Make sure you have a thorough understanding of the terms and conditions in any settlement offer. And never make a settlement offer without having a trusted advisor strategize and review the wording with you first.

 

Most importantly, if you’re facing a business dispute with a partner, an employee, or a vendor, seek counsel from a trusted legal advisor before going it alone.  The right lawyer can help you avoid the most common mistakes while protecting your business interests during settlement negotiations.

 

This article is an educational service of Thrive Law a business law boutique.™ It does not constitute legal or tax advice or imply an attorney-client or accountant-client relationship. At Thrive Law, we offer a full spectrum of legal services for businesses and are equipped to help you make the wisest choices about your business dealings while you’re alive and well or in the event of your incapacity or death. We also offer a Healthy Business & Creative Checkup for ongoing ventures, as well as outsourced company counsel plans for businesses who need a legal team on speed dial. Contact us today to schedule: 727.300.1990 or hello@thrivelaw.com. We cannot wait to meet you!

Business Deals Gone Wild! Part 1

By Jamie Moore Marcario

To be a successful business owner, it’s essential that you know how to make good deals and navigate conflict when it arises in the midst of a deal.

If you find yourself in a dispute over a deal or business agreement, the costs of “a fight” can be enormous.  Think litigation costs, reputational damage costs, not to mention the loss of your own energy and passion for your business that results from engaging in a dispute.

So if your business deal goes wild, what do you need to know to mitigate the damage and the cost?

Above all else, remember that most business fights happen because the agreement process was not handled well in the first place, making a dispute over details almost inevitable.  So to avoid these types of damaging conflicts put the possibility of them on the table from the get-go. When you’re in the midst of drafting the agreement, make sure all the parties talk about their expectation and boundaries in a clear, straightforward way (with no sugarcoating). The best time to avert a conflict is at the beginning of the relationship when everyone is still in the honeymoon phase. It’s easier to talk about tough stuff then than when you’re in the middle of it. The ideal time to surface conflicts is at the beginning of a relationship by creating clear boundaries and expectations, using the agreement process.

Ideally, the process of reaching a business agreement will involve attorneys representing each party so that the parties are fully supported in sharing their otherwise “secret” hopes, desires, pet peeves, deal-breakers, and seemingly silly questions (that are not so silly when they determine whether or not the parties end up in court over a minor disagreement).  Having good attorneys involved also ensures that tough questions are asked that the parties may not have even considered.

When we take on the task of negotiating our own agreements, we often have a difficult time discussing the “not-so-pretty” aspects of the deal asking challenging questions of our new-found friend.  That’s why it’s helpful to have a trusted advisor on your side, supporting you each time you enter into a new agreement with anyone, whether it’s a new team member, a new business partner, or a new strategic partner.

When you rely on a tried and true process for developing your business agreements before you finalize any aspect of a deal, you greatly diminish the odds that you will wind up in expensive litigation time and time again.

But what happens if you have a great agreement development process and the business deal goes wild anyway?

We will answer that question in Part 2 of this article next Monday!

No one wants to end up in a business fight or a lawsuit. Fortunately, you can take some simple steps to reduce the chance of encountering an expensive conflict in the future.  The first step is to find a trusted legal professional who will help you put protective measures in place to avoid the most common mistakes businesses make in the deal-making process. Thrive Law, PA can be that trusted advisor. We are here to help!

At Thrive Law, we help business owners negotiate deals, contracts, and settlements so they can channel their time and energy toward growing their business instead of putting out fires. We begin by scheduling a strategy session with you to plan how you can put in place a robust legal, insurance, financial and tax foundation that will streamline your business operations and minimize your risk of encountering contract and other business disputes.

This article is an educational service of Thrive LawTM, a business law boutique. It does not constitute legal or tax advice or imply an attorney-client or accountant-client relationship. At Thrive Law, we offer a full spectrum of legal services for businesses and are equipped to help you make the wisest choices about your business dealings while you’re alive and well or in the event of your incapacity or death. We also offer a Healthy Business & Creative Checkup for ongoing ventures, as well as outsourced company counsel plans for businesses who need a legal team on speed dial. Contact us today to schedule: 727.300.1990 or hello@thrivelaw.com. We cannot wait to meet you!

3 Steps to Avoid Fines for Misclassifying Independent Contractors

By Jamie Moore Marcario, Esq.

The new millennium has seen the meteoric rise of the  “gig economy,” in which businesses engage independent contractors (“IC”) to do the lion’s share of the work instead of  W-2 employees. While ICs may seem like the way to go, the equally meteoric rise in the number of IC   misclassification cases filed against businesses suggests that businesses relying on ICs should think again.

When a company misclassifies its independent contractors, the error is typically an honest mistake rather than an intentional end-run around the federal requirements. Accordingly, until the last 10 years, most regulatory agencies made little to no effort to enforce employee-independent contractor classification laws and regulations, leaving business owners to believe there was little risk if they chose not to strictly comply with the laws. But those days are gone. Today, both federal and state regulatory agencies apply heightened scrutiny when analyzing classification questions at all levels, leading to a new spike in classification lawsuits.

The penalties for misclassification are no laughing matter. If you misclassify an IC, your business may very well owe back taxes on behalf of team members you’ve mischaracterized, and you and your business may even be subject to criminal charges for misclassification. That said, with proper legal guidance from a business law firm like Thrive Law,  it’s actually relatively easy to stay safe and compliant with respect to employee and IC classification issues. We make it simple by walking you through the following three steps ensure your IC classifications pass regulatory muster. Read more

Think Your Corporation or LLC Totally Protects You From Personal Liability? Think Again

One of the primary reasons business owners set up corporations and limited liability companies (LLC) is to shield their personal assets from debts and other liabilities incurred by the business.

Indeed, corporations and LLCs exist as separate legal entities from their owners, meaning the business itself can acquire assets, enter into contracts, and take on debt. In turn, if a corporate entity is unable to pay its debts, creditors are typically only allowed to go after the company’s assets, not the owners’ personal assets.

However, there are several circumstances in which business owners can be held personally liable for corporate or LLC debts. Sometimes business owners simply make innocent mistakes when running a business that leave them personally liable.

Other times, business owners take deliberate actions that expose them to personal liability,  such as using the corporation to promote fraud, failing to observe corporate formalities, or even commingling corporate and personal assets. In any of these circumstances, a court can hold the owners personally liable for the debts and liabilities of the corporate entity. Lawyer types refer to this as  “piercing the corporate veil.” Read more

Protect Your Intellectual Property: Copyright It!

Just about every business owner—whether they know it or not—has created some form of intellectual property (IP) during the life of their company.

IP is an extremely important part of your business. Indeed, valuation experts estimate that IP makes up 40% to 90% of the total value of some companies.

When it comes to IP protection, patents protect inventions and trademarks protect brand names, while copyrights protect a wide range of original creative output, including literary, musical, dramatic, and artistic works, among others.

For instance, if you’re the original creator, all elements of your website—written content, photos, graphics, audio, and video—are eligible for copyright protection. But if you’re not the original creator of these elements and don’t have the correct legal agreements in place, you may not own the work displayed on your company’s website. In an upcoming article, we’ll look into this topic more deeply, explaining how you can protect work created for you by someone else using work-for-hire clauses. Read more

The GDPR: What Is It, Who Does it Impact, and Why Should I Care?

Like everyone else, you’ve probably been getting a ton of emails and online notices announcing that companies are updating their privacy policies and/or website tracking tools.

Although businesses do this from time to time as part of routine updates, practically all of the latest notices are aimed at complying with a new European Union (EU) law known as the General Data Privacy Regulation (GDPR).

Some of you probably don’t even know what GDPR is, and for those of you who do, I’m betting only a fraction of you have made serious efforts to comply with the new law.

The good news is—you’re not alone. Read more

My Employees Oughta Know! Not if You Don’t Have a Written Handbook!


By Jamie Moore Marcario

Your company started small: just you, a computer, and your supplies in your garage apartment. And then almost overnight, you moved to an office downtown and added your first, second . . . maybe even your fifteenth employee. Or maybe you’re about to hire your first team member. Congrats on your growth! You’re clearly doing a lot of things right!

But if your company is in a growth spurt, chances are you struggle with enforcing company “rules”: rules that you have discussed with your team, but never committed to writing. Or maybe you deem these “rules” to be intuitive with no need for discussion or explanation. Like showing up on time. Or dressing professionally. Or giving advance notice if you need a half day off to get that root canal taken care of. If this describes you, read on! Read more

The Donald, Jamie, and Intellectual Property?

In case you missed it…

Thrive Law’s managing attorney, Jamie Moore Marcario was recently interviewed by David Byrd, the host of American Cafe of Voice of America. President Trump recently announced billions of dollars of tariffs against China. The president said theft of intellectual property by China was one reason for his action. But what actually is intellectual property and what constitutes piracy? Jamie breaks it down for us and explains what content creators can do to protect themselves.

You can listen by clicking play below!

 

This interview is an educational service of Thrive LawTM, a business law boutique. It does not constitute legal advice or imply an attorney-client relationship. At Thrive Law, we offer a full spectrum of legal services for businesses and are equipped to help you make the wisest choices about your business dealings while you’re alive and well or in the event of your incapacity or death. We also offer a Healthy Business & Creative Checkup for ongoing ventures, as well as outsourced company counsel plans for businesses who need a legal team on speed dial. Contact us today to schedule: 727.300.1990 or hello@thrivelaw.com. We cannot wait to meet you!

Independent Contractors are the Bomb (That Can Blow Up your Business)! When and How to Hire IC’s Safely

By Jamie Moore Marcario

We get it. You’re the new biz on the block and you need help. But the thought of hiring employees freaks you out! Where will you get the money? So you hire an independent contractor (IC) instead. You pat yourself on the back. Maybe you tell your best friend, “I’m brilliant! I hired someone to do my bidding and I’m saving a ton in payroll taxes. I am the bomb!”

But what if the real bomb is that IC that’s going to explode right in your face? If you don’t engage the right IC for the right job—a mistake the IRS and the NLRB call “misclassification” — you might be on the hook for fines, penalties, back wages, overtime pay and possibly a lawsuit that could sink your business. To make sure that doesn’t happen to you, check out these pros and cons of working with independent contractors. Use them as your guide on when and how to hire them without blowing up your business.

Independent Contractor Pros

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Don’t Be Stupid! How to Use You EQ to Increase Business

By Jamie Moore Marcario

You’re finally your own boss. You decide what you do, who you do it for, when and how. Awesome, right? But if you’ve never done your own thing before, you’ve quickly discovered that your brilliant business plan and loan from your brother to fund your dream aren’t enough to bring it all to life. You need emotional intelligence if you’re going to make it.

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