Announcing New Bundle Packages!

3574042
Starting today I am offering four NEW services that make it easier for small organizations to get the legal peace of mind they need. I am introducing four all-inclusive bundles: The Non-Profit Start-up Bundle; the Non-Profit Annual Check-up; the Business Start-up Bundle and the Business Annual Check-up.  I am excited to share the details with you!
After a free consultation, each bundle is custom-designed for the individual organization.  Hiring a lawyer to handle each of these services on an ad-hoc basis can often bring legal bills to of upwards of $15,000.  By bundling these services together I build a strong knowledge of your individual organization and form a great relationship with the staff. Think of me as an in-house counsel you don’t pay a salary!
An added benefit is that the fee is fixed upfront, so you know exactly what to expect. Because I am tackling many of your issues at once I am able to offer the bundle at a reduced rate. Some of the bundles start as low as $4,500 and payment plans are available. Highlighted services in some bundles include:
  • Drafting and Filing or Review of Initial Documents
  • Four, hour-long consultations over the span of 4 months
  • Drafting or Review of contracts
  • 501c3 Drafting Assistance and filing with the IRS (for not-for-profit clients)
  • Board Consultation, Development and Training (for not-for-profit clients)
Click here for more detailed information about the packages.
Email me this week to set up a consultation.  I would love to talk with you more about my new offerings.  I am looking forward to helping your organization start and run more effectively.

Summer Reading List 2014

Summer Reading 2014 BooksI love summertime because I travel more. Traveling more means more time on airplanes and in train stations. As much as I enjoy the destinations I visit, I sometimes enjoy the journey even more because it gives me dedicated time to read. My favorite way to relax while still feeling productive is by reading business books.  This allows me to keep up with what other entrepreneurs are thinking and doing.  Here are some of the books I have been diving into over the past few months.

Start Something That Matters by Blake Mycoskie. I read this book in one sitting, on a train from Washington D.C. to NYC. I was so inspired by Blake’s enthusiasm I immediately told all of my friends to buy a copy and to start wearing TOMS shoes.   Blake discusses how to do good for the world and make money and I was really inspired by his approach.  I think it would be hard to read this book and not be motivated by Blake’s generosity and spirit.

Do Cool Sh*t by Miki Agrawal. I stumbled on this book when it popped up on my recommended reads from the New York Public Library. It is a super quick read but it packs a big punch. What I love about it is that it gives you Miki’s story woven in with tasks and challenges for the reader. If you don’t already have your own business you will want to start one after reading this book, AND, thanks to Miki, you will also have the basic know-how to do it!

Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell. What struck me most about this book was how success has to do with some hard work and some factors out of one’s control. The book tells fascinating tales about how “overnight successes” really have a lot more going for them than we can see on the surface. Timing is everything – the time you start a project, the time you put in to it. Sometimes the stars are aligned for something unusual to happen.  It struck me that you have to keep working hard, but you also have to be open to what the universe is putting out there for you.

Never Eat Alone by Keith Ferrazzi. I read this book after Malcolm Gladwell inspired me to become a connector in his book The Tipping Point (another great read). I finished Never Eat Alone without a “To Do” list of at least twenty things. Mr. Ferrazzi is clearly good at connecting and he gives some definite and concrete steps that even the shyest people can try.  I find myself re-visiting this book when I want to try a new way of connecting with colleagues and clients.

Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. You can’t read only business books, it’s summer after all! This was one of the top five books I read last year and I can’t recommend it highly enough. This author is incredible – you can see for yourself in her TED talks on the danger of a single story and why we should all be feminists. In this book she tells the story of a Nigerian native who comes to the United States and eventually decides to return to Nigeria. The voice was stunning and the characters crawled into my head and refused to leave.

Have you read any of these books?  Did you enjoy them? What book should I pick up the next time I am on the road? Leave me a comment and let me know!

What You Should Know about Small Claims Court

Decorative Scales of Justice in the CourtroomPeople don’t always deliver on their word.  Even though you were sure to get a rock-solid contract, people disappear or a business may just plain refuse to pay. This bad behavior leads many people straight to the courtroom.  If the contract wasn’t worth a large sum to begin with, however, you may wonder, is it really worth the hassle to pursue legal action?

You may think that if you were only scammed out of a small amount of money, then pursuing legal action isn’t worth the work of initiating and following through with a lawsuit.  After all, there will be papers to file and courtroom appearances to make.  But before you make this decision, you should know what to expect in small claims court.

Here are five truths to consider before deciding whether or not it is worth the hassle to pursue a case in small claims court.

1)   In New York City, the maximum you can sue for in small claims is $5,000.  If you want to collect more than $5,000 the ease that Small Claims can often provide is not an option.

2)  You don’t need a lawyer.  New York City’s Small Claims Court is surprisingly easy to navigate without legal assistance.  The majority of claimants and defendants in small claims court don’t have attorneys. The judge and the court staff are used to dealing with people without legal backgrounds.  The judge makes an effort to speak in plain language.  You can initiate an action simply by filling out a form with the clerk.  These efforts can make a small claims case much easier to manage while going about your daily business.

3)   You can choose between a daytime or evening court time. Many people choose the evening time because they don’t want to miss work.  This can be a good call, but on the evening you are set to appear be prepared to sit in the courtroom until 10 or 11 at night, it can often take some time for the court to dispose of your case.

4)   You should be willing and prepared to settle.  Small claims courts encourage settlement.  After you serve the other party he or she may suggest a settlement.  This can be a very good thing because if you settle, you don’t have to worry about chasing the money down later, which can be the most difficult part of the process (see number 5 below).

5)  You should have a plan to collect the money.  Unfortunately, many people refuse to pay even after a judge has ordered that they must.  For a small claims case to be worth your time, you need to know how you will get the money if the other party still refuses to pay after a court order.  This can be as simple as knowing where the delinquent party banks, but it can sometimes be more complicated.  Small claims is probably not worth the hassle if you don’t have at least some idea of how you might get paid in the end.  If you are going to pursue the action, make sure you have a payment plan in mind.

Have you ever brought a case to small claims court?  Did you find the process hard to navigate?  What do you wish you had known before jumping in? I would love to hear from you!

Five Things to Ask for When You Can’t Get More Money

Ripped DollarThe first thing everyone wants is more money.  I don’t want to discourage anyone from asking outright for a larger salary or an increased hourly rate.  After all, I have never heard of anyone reneging on an initial offer just because a contractor or an employee asks for more money.

If the other party is not willing to talk about more money, don’t despair.  There are other things you can ask for that can be almost as good as a larger paycheck.

Here are five things to consider asking for:

1)   More Vacation Time – This is an obvious ask and doesn’t require any additional, up-front finances from the company.

2)   Professional Development and Education – Ask the company to cover you for the time and cost to take a class that interests you.  Knowing more about a topic usually makes you better at your job.  This could be anything from a public speaking seminar to computer programming classes to Spanish lessons.  If you are in New York City check out Smartt Talk, General Assembly, or Brooklyn Brainery to get some inspiration.

3)   Transportation or Travel Expenses – Your employer could offer to cover the cost of your daily commute or reimburse you for business travel.

4)   Special Provisions – The beauty of this is that it can be ANYTHING.  Picture your ideal job – Do you wish you could travel more or less? Do you want a nicer office? A company car? Something else that those lucky people at Google get?  Propose the wild idea and see how the other party responds.

5)   A Scheduled Time to Re-Visit the Issue – If you aren’t completely satisfied, ask the company to give you a date in three or six months to discuss your negotiating points again. Regular and more frequent meetings mean more face time with the people that matter and more opportunities to talk up your skills and hard work.

Have you ever been pleasantly surprised when asking for more at a year-end review?  I would love to hear how the negotiations went!

Starting a Business on the Side – Do Tell?

This economy has a lot of people thinking about starting a side business.  Starting a new company, freelancing, and contracting are all great ways to bring in some extra money while reducing your costs.  If you do it the right way you can see if the new business idea is really going to work while maintaining stability at your current gig.

Over the next four weeks I will talk about the various things you need to consider before launching a start-up side business or taking on a second job.

First: To Share or Not to Share

One of the first things you will need to decide is whether or not you are going to tell your employer about what you are doing.  If you decide to go the stealth route keep in mind that you probably want to keep it mum from the entire office.  Co-workers tend to talk and word will probably get back to your boss at some point unless you tell absolutely no one.

Remember to Check your Contract!

Before deciding to ‘fess up, you should also take a look at your employment contract (if you have one).  Many employment contracts limit an employee’s ability to get a second job.  Sometimes contracts require employees to jump through hoops like such as getting the employer’s written permission before taking on any other employment.  If you don’t follow the rules you expose yourself to being fired for cause.

If your contract seems limiting but you are still interested in working at a second gig and your contract discourages this you can always approach your employer and negotiate with him or her.

Once you know where you stand and how up front you are going to be, you are ready to consider the type of work you will be doing and how that work product may affect your employer.  Stay tuned for next week’s post on this issue and how to navigate it.