How We Are Different – for Business Owners
You have already seen from our welcome that we are different. We speak differently than most lawyers, we talk more like you than most of our colleagues. That’s because we are you — first and foremost, we are entrepreneurs, business owners just like you who understand what it takes to start a business, grow a business, and turn that business into a venture that improves the world forever.
Explaining to you how we’re different (in ways you can’t see on the surface) requires an explanation of what the “traditional” experience with a business lawyer is like. If you’ve worked with a lawyer to prepare business entity formation or incorporation documents for you in the past, this will sound familiar.
During that traditional experience, you’ll go in and meet with a lawyer who might make things seem complicated and confusing. You’ll have a good idea that the lawyer is smart and seems to know what he or she is doing, so you’ll nod and answer questions, as if you understand everything. Because you want to do the right thing for your business, you’ll have the lawyer prepare incorporation documents for you and you’ll sign the documents, feeling relieved that you’ve got that taken care of.
But, then what?
Maybe you will get a fancy Corporate Record Binder to take home with you. Maybe. (I’ve seen plenty of lawyers who don’t even do that.) You’ll take your fancy planning binder home, stick it on a shelf or in a drawer, mark incorporate business off on your checklist as DONE and never think about it again. Until something happens, that is.
You might remember your business lawyer said something about agreements (with clients, vendors, lenders, partners) but it didn’t go beyond conversation and you realize you still have open-ended incomplete agreements. Maybe you have even asked your lawyer for help, but you call your lawyer’s office, get a voicemail, leave a message and wait for a call back, (which takes several hours at least and sometimes days) and by that time, you’ll have gotten busy with other things and never get around to finishing that agreement.
And it’s the same way for all those other things you know you’ve got to get handled - trademarks/copyrights, insurance, maybe even financial systems and tax strategy.
Perhaps you do connect with your lawyer by phone, ask a few questions and then a few weeks later, you’ll get a bill in the mail for $67.50 for 15 minutes of your lawyer’s time for answering a couple of questions. You’ll make a mental note– don’t call lawyer ever again unless absolutely necessary.
Years go by and you don’t talk to your lawyer. What you don’t realize is that you not only never finalized your agreements, but your lawyer never customized your operating agreement or bylaws. You have not been having annual meetings or documenting annual meeting minutes.
Business will go on and you’ll know you’ve got these things hanging out, incomplete, but you are way too busy to think about it. It puts a slight drag on your creativity to know they are out there, but you don’t want to call your lawyer because you know you’ll get a bill in the mail two weeks later.
Plus, your lawyer doesn’t seem to be able to move things forward either and you are simply too busy to project manage anything that does not contribute to the bottom line.
You’ll hear something about a change in the tax law, but you figure you’d surely get a letter in the mail from your lawyer if it was something that affected you, so you don’t worry about it. And, you’d have to dig through boxes to find your incorporation documents so you can remember your lawyer’s name and find her contact information. Who has time for that?
It’s not until something happens (an employee lawsuit, a client complaint, a vendor dispute, a big tax bill or an audit, or the need/desire to borrow money, raise capital or your own incapacity or death) that you (or your loved ones) realize with a sinking feeling, your corporate documents are incomplete and you are not able to respond properly to the situation.
You are at a loss. And you can see clearly that you’ve lost time and by not having this all taken care of and, boy, are things an emotional mess. What you may not know is that you’ve been losing money all the way along. Or, at the very least keeping your business from generating anywhere close to the profits it can.
You see, having your business legal affairs in order and complete is as high priority as having your marketing plan and business model in place. It’s one of the little known secrets to the most successful companies – they were set up right.
It’s no mistake that the IRS audits unincorporated sole proprietors 5-7 times more often than it does incorporated business entities … the IRS knows if you do not have your business set up right, you are probably not doing your taxes right. And we know that you are probably also not hiring and firing right, have too little (or too much) insurance and that it’s probably not the right type. You are probably paying more for insurance than you need to as well, if you have it.
All of this leads to your business being built on a house of cards, one crisis away from closing your doors.
How do I know all this?
Because not too long ago, my own business was set up this way too and once I saw how my business changed once I took care of the foundation, I swore I would never let this happen to one of my clients.
And since then, I have seen countless clients come in to see me who have had this exact experience.
Unfortunately, what I discovered is that most lawyers who hold themselves out as business lawyers, do nothing more for their clients than incorporate their entity and send them on their way. Heck, you could get your business entity incorporated a lot less expensively by using a document drafting service if that’s all you are going to have taken care of by your lawyer.
Your business lawyer should be a counselor, not just a document preparer.
Our Firm Helps You Prepare for Business Growth and Success
What makes our firm different is that we were built with the needs of growing businesses in mind. Just because you can’t afford or don’t need in-house General Counsel, doesn’t mean you don’t need counsel.
We are that counsel
We understand you are BUSY, you are growing, you are planning for a business of prosperity and you value ease, convenience and efficiency. You want to know you’ve made the best decisions for your business and that you’ve got all the business details handled so you can be as creative and expansive as possible.
That is our focus as well. We’ve developed unique systems to give you access to a Creative Business Lawyer as was previously only available to larger entities who could afford large retainers and hourly rates. At the Law Office of Jane E. DePalma, now you can have the guidance you need to build a business of meaning, significance and serious profitability.
We encourage communication with our clients. In fact, we’ve thrown out the time clocks so you never have to be afraid to call with a quick question. Everything we do is billed on a flat-fee, monthly basis, agreed to in advance, so there are never any surprises.
We have a whole team to serve you. When you call our office to ask your quick question, you won’t have to wait hours or days for a phone call back. You’ll get your question answered quickly. And, if you need to schedule a more in-depth legal or strategic call with your personal lawyer, a call will be scheduled when you’re both available and ready for the call so we can make the very best use of your time and not waste it by leaving voicemail after voicemail in an endless game of phone tag.
And we monitor your business activities on a regular basis (determined by the planning level chosen with our firm) so we can be proactive about ensuring deals are documented, business moves forward, new ideas are protected, new hires have agreements in place and your company is always in order.
We’ve created unique membership programs to keep your legal, insurance, financial and tax affairs up to date month in and month out as well as give you access to our Trusted Team of Legal Experts for guidance on ANY legal or financial matter.
Here’s the way we look at it, one day you will need a lawyer. I don’t know why and I don’t know when, but when you do, you will be grateful you can call on us and we’ll be here to advise you or get you out of a jam.
Lastly, we don’t just take care of your business now – we make sure it will be a valuable asset that continues to create wealth for your family after you are gone. This is what true legacy is all about.
Many business lawyers overlook this most important of issues, important to your family at least.
One day, you will either want to sell your business or you will want to pass it on to your loved ones so that they are taken care of by what you’ve built.
Businesses built right are built with this in mind. And that’s exactly what we help you do – build a business that can run without you one day.
And that means you can take vacation, retire, or pass your business on to your family and know it will continue to bring in money, serve your clients and benefit everyone who comes into contact with it.
And really, what could be better than that? I mean, ultimately, it's why you are in business, right?
We’ve developed several tools that allow us support you to start, grow and prepare for sale or inheritance a business that deeply serves the world, your clients and your life. And we’ll definitely talk more about those systems when you come in to meet with your us.
We look forward to seeing you and caring for your business soon!
PS – if you think this all sounds like it’s going to be expensive, well, you are right and you’re wrong. I can guarantee you that if you qualify to meet with a Creative Business Lawyer®, that your overall fees will be substantially less costly than it would be for your family, partner or clients if you or a key partner or client died without handling these matters or if your business gets in a jam without these things being taken care of.
And, I’ve never had a single business owner who believed in this kind of planning and wanted to put it in place for their business that left my office because they couldn’t afford it. We’ve made creative financing available to our clients because we know that this planning is the foundation for a business of success!