A blog about making your business leaner, faster and smarter

The Investor’s Guide to Working with Contractors

More often than we like, we hear about nightmare stories about contractors. In the aftermath, investors are confused, left wondering what went wrong, AND they still have to get the work they originally hired the contractor to do done. While we often hear horror stories about things that go terribly wrong, it’s important to note that there is a far higher percentage of stories where contract work went well. Millions of contractors out there really enjoy their work. They take their job seriously and they care about their reputation. In many situations of contracting-gone-wrong, the bad situation could have been prevented with a little due diligence and attention to detail. Recent trends in economic growth indicate that 2013 will have been a strong year for home improvement spending with 43% of U.S. homeowners and investors indicating they will renovate their properties this year. Among those, 74% are expected to hire …

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10 Tips for Outsourcing Legal Work At Your Small Firm

With increased costs and increased competition among law firms, large and small, outsourcing legal work has become commonplace in the U.S. By sending “grunt work” including document review, form preparation, and legal research to contract lawyers rather than in-house associates, law firms of all sizes can save a great deal of money and expand their practices in ways that may have been impossible before. However, lawyers who are considering outsourcing legal work, which is also known as legal process outsourcing, or LPO, need to take special care in doing so, both to ensure the best work for their clients and to stay on the legal and ethical side of the fence. These ten tips should help you in deciding whether outsourcing is right for your firm and to figure out how to do it the right way. Start with your goal in mindBefore deciding whether to outsource legal work to …

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Don’t Work in a Bubble – Build a Startup Advisory Board from the Start

Many small business owners – especially when they’re just getting started – make the mistake of working in a bubble. Head down, full focus and full speed ahead. We get it. After all, you’re just trying to get your business off the ground, your to-do list is long (and growing every day!), and you may even be working your regular day job at the same time. Why Every Entrepreneur Needs a Startup Advisory Board You may think your business is too small or too new to need a startup advisory board, but you’d be mistaken. If your board is populated by professionals with specific expertise regarding your company and your industry, a startup advisory board can have a very positive impact – at little to no cost to you. Many small business owners and entrepreneurs get myopic – they only see what’s in front of them, what has to get …

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12 Mistakes Start-Ups Make the First Year

There is no question that starting a company can be a thrill. Any idea that inspires you to leave your stable job in the rearview mirror in search of something bigger and better must be a good one, right? Well, maybe. The sad truth is that, according to the Wall Street Journal, 75% of start-ups fail. About 60% will make it to the age of three, but only 35% will be left standing at year 10. Those percentages are even lower for companies that are not able to raise any venture capital. While no one can predict with any certainty exactly which start-ups will beat the odds and go on to find success, or acquisition, one of the best things you can do as an entrepreneur is to learn from the mistakes of others, in your first year and beyond. Getting too much attention Getting attention for your start-up may …

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General Counsel ROI – Has it Reached its Limit?

For years, companies have debated whether they could save costs on legal fees by bringing more litigation work in-house. There are many reasons firms want to seek outside legal counsel on a regular basis – not the least of which is the fact that law firm rates continue to rise year after year and companies seeking to put a lid on rising costs may decide to hire someone to oversee the majority of their legal needs and litigation efforts instead of relying outside counsel. In some cases, larger firms have hired in-house general counsel – a lawyer or team of lawyers that are hired by the company and work on day-to-day legal issues. Years ago, it was unusual for any institution with less than $1 billion in assets to hire general counsel, but the increasing complexity of some operations – especially those of financial institutions – has recalibrated the cost …

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The 10 Essential Rules Every Lease Agreement Should Cover

Across the nation, and due to the housing and unemployment crisis of the past decade and a half, many former homeowners have returned to renting property. Plagued by high unemployment, many college graduates have also put buying a home aside and settled in a generation of renters. Residential demographics from 2012 obtained by the National Multi-Housing Council indicate that renter-occupied households make up 32% of the total U.S. households. That number changes depending on the region with cities like New York and Los Angeles having 50% and 42% (respectively) households in rental properties. If you’re a landlord or property owner, your lease agreement is probably one of the most important documents you use. it is the legal agreement between you and each tenant that occupies the space you own, and therefore, it acts as the rules by which they live in that space as well as defining the repercussions should …

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The Secrets of Networking for Solo Practitioners

While a solo practitioner may not necessarily be an introvert, having your practice certainly comes with its fair share of lonely nights. According to Beth Buelow, introverts can be ideally suited to a career in law, due their preference for solitary research and writing so it should come as no surprise that many solo practitioners identify themselves this way. Whether or not you consider yourself an introvert, the alone time necessary to be a solo practitioner can make meeting people, boosting your contact list, and general networking a bit more intimidating. Luckily, you are not alone. Experts on introverts, entrepreneurship, and networking have weighed in many times on the best paths to painless networking. These tips can help anyone meet the right people without sounding or feeling phony or uncomfortable. Preparation is Key One thing that can help turn an uncomfortable networking situation into a productive one is preparation. And …

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3 Simple Ways to Save Money on Startup Legal Fees

Startups typically face several legal hurdles in the early phases of creating their businesses. The average legal costs for a startup is hard to predict, but some 2013 estimates indicate that, on average, startup companies were paying a little over $1k per month for the first three years of their business. In 2011, Silicon Valley attorneys made an estimated $27 million in revenue from startup alone; yet, as startups have been forced to become more capital efficient, they’re also taking a hard look at their legal costs and looking for ways to save on their startup legal fees. The following are simple ways startup owners and entrepreneurs can save big cash on their startup legal fees. 1. Self-educate and Draft Documents Yourself If you’re a startup founder, you owe it to yourself and the future of your company to get minimally educated on legal issues. Here’s an important tidbit you …

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7 Employees You Should Fire Now

The right team of employees can make or break a company. But despite all your diligence in hiring only the best and the brightest, there is always the chance that you will end up with an employee who is dragging the rest of the business down. As companies remain cautious about new hires, with the unemployment rate still hovering above 7%, more companies are opting to give more hours to existing employees rather than to hire new ones, meaning it is even more important to make sure you have the right team in place. It is never an easy task to take away someone’s livelihood, but as management consultant and Inc contributor Steve Tobak notes, the longer toxic employees stay around, the more likely it becomes that the good employees will leave. If you recognize any of your employees in this list, you may want to consider their future with …

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Tips to Legally Pool Money for Real Estate Investments

Over the past decade and a half, we’ve watched real estate markets plummet and slowly begin to rise. Many of those losses are translating into big opportunities for those with cash on hand to buy real estate, which is still considered one of the most trusted ways to earn decent returns when compared to the ups and downs of the stock market. The end goal of a real estate investment trust (REIT) or real estate investment group (REIG) is to have income and partnerships like these typically provide a month-over-month return on your investment. A typical real estate partnership may take an initial investment between five and 50 thousand dollars (some are much lower) but ideally they will charge enough rent to cover all the costs of taxes, maintenance, and more and still earn a dividend. One of the most recent statistics gathered by USA Today indicates that two of …

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