Succeeding in Your Business from Creators Syndicate Creators Syndicate is an international syndication company that represents cartoonists and columnists of the highest caliber. en Sun, 21 Jul 2019 16:16:08 -0700 Succeeding in Your Business from Creators Syndicate 12943fef7a2fea472d7489eec6ddf9a1 It May Be a Classic Movie, but It Isn't Public Yet for 07/16/2019 Tue, 16 Jul 2019 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>"We have a client with a legal question that I was hoping you might be able to answer. He owns a high-end electronics business doing home theaters, security, sound systems and the like. For his website, he wants to Photoshop an image taken from a famous movie scene and place it on the black screen he photographed in a room he designed. Would there be copyright infringement or any legal issues in doing that?"</p> <p><span class="column--highlighted-text">A lot of people are under the impression that just because something is old, you can use it without permission. Sad to say, it ain't necessarily so. </span>A lot of old things are quite valuable (I include myself among them).<p>Updated: Tue Jul 16, 2019</p> 8c7cc5fba77fd3da76b1094b097a204a Starting a Business on EBay and Amazon for 07/09/2019 Tue, 09 Jul 2019 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>As my readers know, I travel the country talking to people who make a living selling stuff on eBay, Amazon and the other online e-commerce platforms.</p> <p>As a lawyer and business consultant, I'm not always able to answer the more technical questions people have about starting and maintaining their online accounts. But as we used to say in the Bronx when I was a kid growing up, "I know a guy who knows a guy who knows a guy ..."<p>Updated: Tue Jul 09, 2019</p> 4dae4a481f92251d7d1e66dc5fbc01fa Minority Owners Don't Get Mad. They (Sometimes) Get Even for 07/02/2019 Tue, 02 Jul 2019 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>"I formed a business with two partners a couple of years ago. We set up a corporation and divided the stock three ways. Me and my brother each had 40% of the company, and a good friend of ours had the remaining 20%.</p> <p>"Things went well for a while, but then our friend with the 20% developed other interests and began withdrawing from the business. We tried to reason with him and offered to buy him out under our stockholders' agreement, but he stonewalled us, accusing us of not running the business properly, and it came to the point where he stopped returning our phone calls. We called a meeting, to which he didn't show up, and voted to remove him from the board of directors and terminate his employment with the company.<p>Updated: Tue Jul 02, 2019</p> 5d26c442c9dcde383783b1249595f808 Keeping Client Attrition Low When Selling a Professional Practice for 06/25/2019 Tue, 25 Jun 2019 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>"I am a podiatrist with a fairly large practice in a large Midwestern city. My wife and I have decided to move south to Florida to be closer to our grandchildren. I have found a younger podiatrist who wants to take over my practice, but I'm not sure exactly how to put the deal together with him. Any suggestions?"</p> <p>You have obviously worked hard and long to build this practice, and it's always a big letdown to realize how little it's actually worth when it comes time to sell out.<p>Updated: Tue Jun 25, 2019</p> c855f26732ea0e86fda6157f4aca2fcc Getting Started in Off-Broadway Theater for 06/18/2019 Tue, 18 Jun 2019 00:00:00 -0700 <p>"I've been a struggling actor in New York for several years, but right now I've got the chance of a lifetime. I have written, directed and produced a satirical off-Broadway play based on the life of a famous former politician. I have a couple of investors &#8212; really all the money I need &#8212; but I'm not sure what, if anything, I need to do legally to get this show off the ground. Where should I start?"</p> <p>Ah, Broadway, the "street of broken dreams." (Or is that Wall Street?) Sadly, the vast majority of these dreams never come to fruition. Most investors in Broadway-type theatrical productions &#8212; known colloquially as "angels" &#8212; view their investments as charitable contributions with only a microscopically small chance of realizing a decent return. </p> <p>First of all, look carefully at the amount of money these investors are putting in. While a couple of hundred thousand dollars should be sufficient to launch a non-musical off-Broadway play in a 30-seat theater, it will be far from enough to bring the show to Broadway if it becomes popular. You will need additional deep-pocket investors at that point, and whatever legal structure you adopt will have to be flexible enough to admit those new investors. In plain English, you need to make sure your current investors are prepared to be "diluted" if the show becomes a hit. If they are not sophisticated Broadway players, they will need to understand that a 1 percent interest in "Phantom of the Opera" is worth more than 100% of a show that closes six weeks after it opens.<p>Updated: Tue Jun 18, 2019</p> ddab3c9bea3de7144b0589666039a932 Buying a Business Without a Lawyer ... Don't! for 06/11/2019 Tue, 11 Jun 2019 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p><span style="background-color: initial;">"Two weeks ago, I signed a contract to buy a business. I didn't use a lawyer because the contract seemed fair, and I felt I understood what it said. I put up a $25,000 deposit to buy this business, and the closing is in two weeks.</span><br></p> <p>"The seller's attorney has been calling me every day asking me questions about the documents that I am responsible for delivering for the closing. When I attempt to discuss these with him, he tells me he can't talk to me directly but only to my attorney. I told him I don't have an attorney. He says I need to have one.<p>Updated: Wed Jun 12, 2019</p> 12d8a90a71c06166549dc546b39b2fc6 Advice to a Young Lawyer for 06/04/2019 Tue, 04 Jun 2019 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>I had the privilege of addressing a group of about 50 law school graduates last week as part of the New York State Bar Association's semiannual Bridging the Gap program &#8212; a two-day orientation course for newly minted lawyers on the "real-world" life and practice of law.</p> <p>Here is an abridged version of my remarks:<p>Updated: Tue Jun 04, 2019</p> e242d418b9620279e30dcb0ab5a158ad 31 Questions to Ask When You're Buying a Franchise for 05/28/2019 Tue, 28 May 2019 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>"My wife and I are thinking about a franchise. We've met with the franchise executives at their 'Discovery Day,' and they seem like nice people.</p> <p>"They're encouraging us to talk to some of their franchisees to understand exactly what goes on in the franchised business, but I confess I don't know what sorts of questions to ask. We've never owned a business before.<p>Updated: Tue May 28, 2019</p> 24a95b69d3b386372a9425d4418def6f Online Reviews: Part 2 for 05/21/2019 Tue, 21 May 2019 00:00:00 -0700 <p>"I started a solo law practice last year. As part of my marketing efforts, I encourage my clients to post positive reviews on their websites and social media pages. </p> <p>"Well, I just found out that a client posted a highly negative review of me on" (Author's note: Avvo is an online review site &#8212; similar to Yelp &#8212; where people can review lawyers and other legal professionals.)</p> <p>"I was shocked. Not only did the client not warn me he was going to do this, but he told me to my face he liked the job I did and would say nothing but positive things about me.<p>Updated: Tue May 21, 2019</p> a2201532fd315089fdd16af58a7d2cb9 Online Reviews: Part I for 05/14/2019 Tue, 14 May 2019 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>"I want to put a hyperlink on my website to an article somebody else wrote on another website so that readers could read the article and then respond, whether negatively or positively, on my website what they thought of the article. Is this legal?"</p> <p>The short and easy answer is it's probably legal. The tougher question is: Should you do it?<p>Updated: Tue May 14, 2019</p> 6281996cac75d761e9dcc8a4ffb77fce Does Your Business Qualify as Woman- or Minority-Owned? for 05/07/2019 Tue, 07 May 2019 00:00:00 -0700 <p>"My husband and I started a consulting business a while back, and we are finding ourselves getting more and more business from government agencies and nonprofit organizations. There's only one problem: Many of these people want to know if we are a 'minority-owned enterprise' or a 'woman-owned enterprise' so they can comply with federal and state laws requiring that a certain%age of their business be given to minority or woman-owned contractors.</p> <p>"I am female and own 51% of the business. My husband and I are both members of recognized minority groups. Is that enough to qualify?"</p> <p>Believe it or not, the answer may well be no, at least for a female-owned business.<p>Updated: Tue May 07, 2019</p> 5579e01bc9927f412106229e811f6744 Getting First Place in a Business Plan Competition for 04/30/2019 Tue, 30 Apr 2019 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>Twice a year, I have the honor of being a judge at the Connecticut Business Plan Competition, where students from business schools and undergraduate business programs throughout Connecticut compete for cash prizes and mentorship from leading business experts, in a format very similar to the popular "Shark Tank" television show.</p> <p>The event has grown so popular over the years that there are now six judging categories for different types of business (such as personal or service business, venture enterprise, social enterprise and mobile app) and over 70 participating student teams. I was privileged to judge the personal business part of the competition, featuring 10 student projects involving consumer-oriented products and services. <span class="column--highlighted-text">Here are some of the ideas the students came up with, and my judge's notes describing their strengths and weaknesses.</span><p>Updated: Tue Apr 30, 2019</p> 02951d190a671456673a32b594a29c1b Are You a Maturepreneur? for 04/23/2019 Tue, 23 Apr 2019 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>Millions of baby boomers are leaving corporate America, but few are ready to retire.</p> <p>The solution for many of them? Maturepreneurship.<p>Updated: Tue Apr 23, 2019</p> acaa6f228993890bc4505c153a403522 Some Problems With Buy-Sell Agreements for 04/16/2019 Tue, 16 Apr 2019 00:00:00 -0700 <p>I recently had the privilege of examining a volume of legal forms whose publisher wanted me to take over as general editor.</p> <p>I was generally OK with the corporation and LLC forms &#8212; that is until I got to the chapter titled "buy-sell agreements." These agreements deal with the common situation in which an owner of a small business either wants to leave the company or needs to be forced out. In such situations, it is customary for the company, or the departing owner's business partners, to purchase the departing owner's interest in the company for the price specified in the agreement. That way the departing owner can get on with his life, and the company can get on with its business. Simple enough, right?</p> <p>I have to say I was utterly appalled by the forms that appeared in this volume &#8212; forms that lawyers throughout the country have been relying on for years &#8212; because none of them worked the way they should.<p>Updated: Tue Apr 16, 2019</p> 85b73c10a8fba7060054d48d542279d6 When 2 Can Grow a Business More Successfully Than 1 for 04/09/2019 Tue, 09 Apr 2019 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>"I currently own a one-person information technology consulting firm, which operates as a limited liability company (LLC).</p> <p>"I have a number of small clients. I go out and get the business, but I am also the person who has to do the work to keep the client satisfied. I am making enough money to support myself and my family, but there is not much left over to pay anyone else.<p>Updated: Tue Apr 09, 2019</p> 672c88573581e8268c4f83bd9e35a9b5 12 Little Words That Will Help You Predict the Future for 04/02/2019 Tue, 02 Apr 2019 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>It's a rough economy out there, but even scarier than the persistent threats of recession, deflation, countries defaulting on their debt, governments' inability to balance the budget and other boogie people is the pace of change itself.</p> <p>If you are a business owner looking to adapt, or if you are an unemployed corporate executive trying to figure out where tomorrow's job opportunities will be, everything's changing so fast, and the world economy's so volatile, that it seems impossible to prepare and plan.<p>Updated: Tue Apr 02, 2019</p> 5d1c3be7e199d1c25cd4ad41acf5f720 When Customer Service Bumps Up Against Economic Reality for 03/26/2019 Tue, 26 Mar 2019 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>On a recent business trip to a popular beach resort in California, I was called upon to find a good local restaurant for two important California-based contacts who wanted to meet with me over dinner.</p> <p>As it so happened, both of them liked steakhouses, and the hotel where I was staying boasted one of the top steakhouses in the area.<p>Updated: Tue Mar 26, 2019</p> 911de6fc4f832a2dae1157168d7f785d A Primer on Preferred Stock for 03/19/2019 Tue, 19 Mar 2019 00:00:00 -0700 <p>"My two partners and I formed a corporation to run a web-based business. The business has taken off, and we are being approached by some local angel investors.</p> <p>"We are delighted, of course. The problem is that these investors all want preferred stock, and our corporation is not set up for that. How can we do this? Do we need an attorney? And how much will this cost?"</p> <p>When a corporation first starts up, its owners receive common stock &#8212; a percentage interest in the company's assets and liabilities. If the company goes under, holders of common shares split the proceeds of liquidation based on their percentage ownership after all debts have been paid.<p>Updated: Tue Mar 19, 2019</p> 7b5ae21883033b4347c1114315d97b84 Spreading Out the Taxes on Lottery Winnings for 03/12/2019 Tue, 12 Mar 2019 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>"I have an unusual question for you. If I win a large prize in the lottery, should/could I establish a nonprofit corporation to receive the prize? I asked a financial adviser about this, and he said I could do it and also keep the identity of the manager (me) hidden from the public. </p> <p>"There are two reasons I have for wanting to do this. The first is to keep my identity secret so that no one will know that I won the money. The second is to spread the winnings out over several years, thus possibly lowering the tax rate. According to him, the money will not be taxed when it is paid to the organization by the lottery commission but only when it is dispersed by the organization. <p>Updated: Tue Mar 12, 2019</p> 52f02633284a4e9dec066660a4b5abd6 Cold-Calling That Might Possibly Work for 03/05/2019 Tue, 05 Mar 2019 00:00:00 -0800 <p></p><p>"I run a one-person consulting service that provides marketing, public relations and other image and branding consulting services to large corporations.</p> <p>"I generate most of my new business through personal networking. The problem is that personal networking is extremely time-consuming. Even when I do get an appointment with a decision-maker at a large corporation, everything I suggest is often shot down with responses such as, 'We've already tried that,' 'We already have someone doing that for us,' and so forth.<p>Updated: Tue Mar 05, 2019</p>