Our event, Obamacare and the Small Business Owner: What You Must Know Now, will now take place on Thursday, November 21st at 10:00am at the Transfer Station East in Manayunk. The Transfer Station East is located in the old Restoration Hardware space at 4120 Main Street. There is ample parking onsite and nearby. This event is free and includes coffee and pastries, but registration is limited and must be done in advance here.
If you own a small business and are confused about your health care obligations, please come to this event. See you on November 21st.
One area where many small business owners skimp on legal advice is with their commercial lease. If you're not careful and do not have a lawyer review your lease, you could be in for years of problems.
Most commercial leases are for a long term, typically three, five, ten years or more. One area to keep an eye on in your lease is the amount of rent. Sounds easy, right? You find a nice space that advertises itself for $1,000 per month. You get excited, run your numbers and decide your business can afford to pay $1,000 a month in rent. Not so fast. Look closely at the area that discusses the rent charges. Typically a lease will specify the amount of base rent to be paid and then there will be additional paragraphs that address additional rent. What is included in additional rent? A large number of things, depending on your landlord. Use and occupancy tax could be added, utilities, past due charges, many items might be specified, make sure you understand how much will really be added to the lease each month. If you aren't comfortable with the arrangement, negotiate!
Another area to closely watch is for any rent escalation clauses. As I pointed out above, a commercial lease is usually for a long period of time, several years or more. Do you think your landlord is okay with you paying the same amount of rent for five years or more? Think again. There is likely a rent escalation clause in the lease specifies what the base rent will be in years two, three, four and five. Make sure the exact amount is noted, along with the exact dates of when the new base rent rate applies.
I am an attorney that reviews commercial leases for a very reasonable rate. It's money well spent to make sure you are not placed in a bad position today or several years down the line when you are locked into an unfavorable lease. Drop me a line today about reviewing your commercial lease.
Join Philly Small Business Lawyer Sarah E. Holmes on Tuesday November 12, 2013 from 10:00-11:30 am for a discussion of what every small business owner must know about the new Affordable Care Act.
Many people mistakenly believe that "Obamacare" has been repealed. This is not true, but there is so much confusion about the current state of the law and what a small business owner is required to do.
Join me at the Transfer Station East in Manayunk (old Restoration Hardware). This event is free, but advance registration is required.
I often hear people refer to their business as their "baby." They view the business start-up process and subsequent growth period as similar to birthing and raising a child. While sometimes there are similarities, viewing your business as your baby is a huge mistake.
Your business is just that, a business. The only point of having a business is to make a profit. Yes, you hope it will be fulfilling, etc., etc., but if it's not profitable and making money for you, it's just a hobby. This can be a hard pill for some people to swallow.
The first step is you must emotionally detach yourself from your business. Viewing it as a baby will cloud your judgment when it becomes time to make some difficult decisions. For example, you may be totally overwhelmed and desperately need help running certain aspects of your business. You might hold yourself back from hiring much needed help because it's "your baby" and no one else could possibly understand your vision or do things right. You may hire people but dismiss them when they fail to do things exactly as you would do. Or worse, you may fail to fire people that are taking advantage of you because your employees are like family. Save the strong emotional relationships for your family and friends, not your business and employees.
While being a small business owner definitely takes passion, cooler heads prevail when it's time to make important decisions. Take a step back, cut the cord, and make decisions that are good for your business.
When starting a business, one of the first things many people come up with is a name. They may start doing business under their company name for quite some time before they decide to make it "official" by incorporating, establishing a bank account, building a website or ordering business cards. By the time they get around to doing these things, they may be disheartened to find their desired business name is not available.
When setting up a business for which you will not be using your own name, first check your state's corporations database to see if any others have registered that name to do business. If they have, it does not automatically mean you cannot use the same name, but if the name is being used in the same industry or same type of business in the same area, you may need to think of a new name. In many areas, if you do business as any name other than your own, you may have to file a "fictitious name" registration with the state.
A second concern with a name is to find out if the name is already trademarked. You can do a simple trademark search at the federal government's TESS website, here: http://tmsearch.uspto.gov/bin/gate.exe?f=tess&state=4805:nxa6t5.1.1
If the name is already trademarked, look at what industry and location the name is used for. If it's a nationally recognized name brand, it may be best to steer clear and find another name.
Finally, but sometimes most importantly, is to find out if your business name is available as a website domain. A simple search can be done at godaddy.com. If you plan to have people find your business on the internet, your domain name needs to be some variation of your business name or the type of good or service you are providing. For example, if you are starting a XYZ paper company in Philadelphia and you need people to find your business on the internet, you need to find out if the domain XYZpaper.com is available, or XYZphiladelphiapaper, or phillycheappaper.com. If you cannot get your company name for a domain, at least get a domain name that is a description of what someone will type into a google search to find your product or service.
Of course, a small business lawyer can help you with all of these tasks. I offer name search services as part of my small business and incorporation packages. Email or call me today for help.
I am so excited to bring my small business law practice to Manayunk! I am also the owner of Petit Gourmand, a brand new kitchen boutique in Manayunk, so I know first-hand the challenges of opening a new brick + mortar business in Philadelphia. I'm here to help the small business owners of Manayunk and beyond, whether it's with a lease review, drafting a contract, writing a will or helping to hire employees, please drop me a line or come see me in my first floor shop anytime!
Sarah E. Holmes is a Philadelphia business attorney and strategist that helps start ups and established businesses looking to expand, protect their assets and increase their profits in an approachable, down-to-earth way.