Learn how Chief Marketing Officer Megan Climer transformed the Tressler brand and her advice to business owners considering a brand refresh.
A new role brings new opportunities
When Megan Climer joined Tressler & Associates in August 2022, she was eager to dive into brand development. Just a couple of weeks into her new role, she began to see opportunities for Tressler to differentiate itself from other law firms in the market. In this interview, she explains what makes a brand and shares how she developed their new visual identity.
Most people think a brand is a name and logo. How do you define a brand?
Their definition isn’t wrong, just incomplete. I have spent the majority of my professional career learning what makes a great brand. A brand is a name and a logo, but I believe it offers so much more. Your brand is your unique identity. And like a person, it has exterior and interior attributes and characteristics that make it identifiable to the world. Like a person, a brand has dreams and a purpose (a vision and a mission), values, a personality, a voice, a story, and an overall essence or feeling. Really, a brand is powerful. It is the foundation that informs and supports your overall business strategy. And it can be your most valuable asset for managing growth.
What did you do first to start developing the new brand?
The first thing I did was take a detailed look at our competition and the overall market. It sounds counterintuitive to spend your time analyzing everyone else, but a competitive analysis is critical to building a brand. By evaluating our competitors, I learned where we fit into the market and the unique opportunities we had to stand out.
What did you do after you finished the competitor analysis?
The next thing I did was complete an audit of our brand. I reviewed the competitor data to see how we measured up, which is always an eye opening experience. It allowed me to see where our brand was falling short and where we had opportunities to shine.
Like many service industries, the legal industry lacks uniqueness. The brand landscape looks very similar in both styling and messaging. I have always said that if everyone else is saying it, it probably isn’t worth saying. Industry platitudes and buzz words become expectations, not differentiators. I knew if we were committed to being different from traditional law firms, our brand had to look and feel different from a traditional law firm. It was our time to break away from the industry brand “standards” and offer a new brand experience.
What inspired the new logo?
After comparing and analyzing for several weeks, I began to brainstorm ideas for how our brand style could be unique. I knew right away what visual elements did not fit our brand personality and what opportunities were available to stand out among our competitors.
I also spoke with Todd and Lisa about our culture and brand personality to get a sense of who we are and what a Tressler brand experience feels like. Todd shared some of his grandfather’s old business papers with an added sticky note that said “brand inspo.” From all of this I began to visualize what our brand style could be. Using combinations of color, texture, pattern, typography, photography, videography, illustration and tone, you can build a complete brand identity that is unique and powerful. I pulled inspo from lots of visuals and created a mood board that kick-started my design.
What did you design first?
I started with our typography. Almost all of our competitors use typography that is traditional and serious in tone. It just made sense to try to design our logo icon using lower case letters. By making the “ta” lowercase, it now feels more approachable, accessible and warm, all things we believe make up the Tressler experience. The lowercase nods to the era of typewriters (inspo from the old papers) and adds a vintage flair to the brand. I used a sans type as our accent font instead of a traditional all caps serif for our business name. Our brand now feels modernized and more relevant to today’s consumer.
It’s great to learn the logic behind the letters. What led you to choose orange as your new brand color?
This part was fun. Color psychology is actually a thing, and it is fascinating! Did you know color works at a subconscious level faster than words or images and creates a gut response? So color choices matter. For us, our previous brand colors were black, red and gray. This overall palette communicated a more bold, corporate, serious and traditional feel all things we believe do not represent who we are. It was also a common color palette used by others in our industry. By changing our colors, we could instantly add visual uniqueness and more accurately communicate our brand personality and essence to our target audience.
Here are some of the insights that influenced this decision. Orange is known as a creative, abundant, positive, passionate, secure and comforting color. The redder tones of orange can communicate strength, stamina and determination, and brown is a color that is viewed as grounding, reliable, balanced, honest, sincere and warm. From all of these attributes, we developed the Tressler orange.
What can we expect next from the Tressler brand?
We are so excited for what is to come! We just launched our new website this month. Our website partner FortyAU, helped me bring our new brand experience to life. Our website showcases our new look, but more importantly, offers a user experience unlike anyone else in our market.
Our social media will also see a refresh. These platforms will continue to be a place we tell our story and engage in meaningful ways with our audiences. Our team also plans to release a series of free digital resources to offer more education around our practice areas to include; digital downloads, blogs, webinars and a new podcast. These extra resources will all be available on our website. As a marketer, I live in creative mode. A new brand offers so many opportunities to educate, entertain and add value to our audience.
What advice do you have for business owners considering a brand refresh?
Wow, that could be a whole other interview! But I’ll do my best to keep this short. Maybe we’ll answer in more detail on a future podcast. (smiles and winks)
1. Define your goals.
When starting any new project having a goal in mind is always a great first step. Why are you choosing to work on your brand? Defining what you want your brand to do for your business will help you create a brand identity that delivers results. Are you a start-up preparing to launch, or are you a small business getting ready to roll out a new product or service? Are you trying to stay competitive and looking for ways to gain more market share, or do you already have a brand but feel it’s time for a makeover? No matter what your reasons are, declaring your motives will enable you to set goals and stay focused as you work through the process.
2. Do the research.
Get to know your target customer and analyze your competition. I didn’t mention customer analysis earlier, but they also influence and impact your identity. Because the truth is, without our customers, we have no business. A deep dive into their personality and habits can help you learn what will resonate most with them. Knowing your competition is powerful. An analysis will take some time to complete, but it is insight you can use to position your brand for lasting success in your market.
3. Be true to who you are.
Know who you are and who you want to be. Your brand is more than a hip logo or slackline. Your brand is your story, your personality, your values, your mission and much more! It is an experience, and one that should be all your own. Your brand can do so many things for your business. It should set you apart, communicate a clear message, tell a story, build credibility, connect with your audience, motivate action, create memorable experiences and loyal fans. You can start your brand refresh today by doing a simple brand audit. Ask yourself how your brand is doing? How well does it do all the things listed above? Where are there opportunities to improve, and where can YOU shine?
As Chief Marketing Officer of Tresler & Associates, Megan leads the marketing, communication and development initiatives for the Tressler brands. She works to strengthen the company’s position as a trusted leader in the legal and real estate industries.
Megan is an award winning web and graphic designer and writer with nearly two decades of business to consumer experience with large and small organizations in marketing, communications, business development, public relations, advertising and brand innovation. She’s an experienced consultant, working with large and small businesses in brand development and marketing strategy and leads brand development workshops for rising and seasoned entrepreneurs. Megan is currently working to complete her first book on brand development estimated for release in late 2023.
Megan is always happy to talk shop about branding. You can follow her on Instagram @mlclimer, connect with her on LinkedIn, or reach out to her directly at [email protected].
Real estate investment trusts (REITs) are not typically something you’ll hear about unless you’re deep into the world of investment opportunities. They’re special companies that operate as trusts and oversee real estate investments. A company acting as a trust may sound strange, but this is how many large trusts work.
When someone with a lot of valuable property and capital places a significant amount of it in a trust, a group of people is continuously paid by the trust to maintain it. Sometimes they work to invest it to grow the contents of the account. A famous example of this would be the executors of the Tolkien Estate, a trust created to protect and maintain the property of the famous author J. R. R. Tolkien, writer of the Lord of the Rings book series.
Currently, Tolkien’s two main executors–Baillie Tolkien and Michael George Tolkien–and a team of lawyers and investors control and care for his estate. This is similar to how many REITs operate when put in simpler terms, but how it starts and benefits a regular investor is a different matter.
Who Creates a Real Estate Investment Trust?
A group of investors can come together or be broached by professionals to invest in real estate investment trusts. Regardless of whose idea it is, investors put money into a trust that purchases and operates real estate properties on their behalf. These investors can be wealthy individuals, investment firms, or large corporations.
What Are the Benefits of Investing With REITs?
REITs are perfect for when stock market investors want regular incomes. These allow investors to invest in nonresidential investments when they wouldn’t normally be able to. Real estate properties such as office buildings, mall complexes, and storefronts are usually impossible for individual investors to purchase themselves. With a REIT, they can.
What makes these trusts even more appealing to investors is that a REIT is what can be considered a highly liquid venture. These are exchange-traded trusts, where investors put liquid cash flow in and get liquid cash flow out. They don’t see real estate agents or title transfer companies if they don’t want to. To be safe, we would recommend that you have an attorney to oversee the title transfers and the contracts to protect your investments.
Investors also only have to be involved as much as they want, which is another reason to invest in a REIT. It operates like a business, meaning others run the day-to-day and only communicate with the investors when they need to put funding in or take the profit out. Though, again, we recommend that investors at least have their attorneys watching over any REITs they’re a part of.
What Can You Invest in With a REIT?
There are many different properties that can be purchased, managed, and sold by a REIT that should interest real estate investors. These include properties that would otherwise be near impossible for an individual investor to invest in themselves due to the time and money needed to make and keep them operational.
Typically, a REIT will focus on one type of real estate, not all of these examples at once. Before you enter into any REITs, you want to make sure there’s a clear goal. It’s unlikely that there are many real estate managers who know how to manage apartment complexes, healthcare facilities, and cell towers. It’s not out of the realm of possibility that someone could manage retail centers and warehouses considering the connection between their businesses. They require business and legal research to make sure that your investment in a REIT is a safe one.
Contact Tressler & Associates Before Entering Any Real Estate Investment Trusts
A real estate investment trust is a good way to grow your portfolio and your capital, especially if you don’t have the time or energy to manage real estate properties yourself. But they aren’t bulletproof, so you need to make sure they’re with qualified investors and managers.
For any aspect of a real estate investment trust, contact Tressler & Associates today.
There’s never just one of anything. In contract law, this is especially true, and non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) are the perfect example of this. NDAs are contracts used by individuals and businesses to share private information safely. They legally bind individuals to share information with promises of confidentiality, save for a few exceptions. These can be shared with new and current employees, business partners, clients, and more. Anyone who might need to know a trade secret, a patent, or some other invention, should sign an NDA. But there are many types of NDAs, so you have to know which one is right for you.
The Three Tiers of NDAs
The different types of NDAs are broken down into tiers. At the top, there are three types, unilateral, bilateral, and multilateral NDAs. The rest of the specific NDA types fall under these three categories. Most are based on who has to sign the NDA. Not all NDAs are created equally, and they can only demand so much secrecy from strangers when compared to their employees.
To be a unilateral NDA, the NDA has to be one-way. This means that the business or individual is asking you to keep a secret, but isn’t keeping anything secret for you. Sometimes this happens because there is nothing that one side needs the other to keep private during their business arrangements. Sometimes it can also be because a business wants to release or use information from a case study and the NDA has to be one way to use information from it.
It’s incredibly common for businesses to require employees to sign NDAs before they can start work. It’s common for businesses to have the intellectual property (IP) that they need to operate their business that also they don’t want their competitors to have. IP that would necessitate an employer-employee NDA contains:
Business and development plans
Technical information such as projections and inventions
If you need to hire temporary contractors for a short-term project or to temporarily fill a spot, you’ll need an NDA. You can’t use the same unilateral NDA for employees as contractors because contractors aren’t your employees. They can be working with other companies while working with you. These other companies may be your competitors, or related to your competitors, so you need to have legal contracts designed for their situation.
When someone invents a patent or a prototype, they need NDAs to keep people from stealing their ideas.
Business Information: This includes the inventor’s financials, information on any vendors they use, the cost to develop the prototype, the cost to reproduce the prototype, and anything about the methods of conducting.
Customer Information: The names and contact information of any of the inventor’s customers.
Intellectual Property: This pertains to all parts of a prototype, including test data, test results, tools and services used in production, patents, copyrights, trade secrets, and unreleased marketing materials.
Service Information: All data relating to the inventor’s products and services that don’t count as IP.
Accounting Information: This includes balance sheets, company liability information, insurance coverage, expense reporting, profit, and loss reporting.
When you are selling a product directly to a buyer, you want to make sure that the buyer doesn’t reverse-engineer your product or give any important details to a competitor. A seller-buyer NDA will protect you by limiting one’s ability to share information on:
Business operations: This is the seller’s financial and internal information.
Intellectual property: IP in this instance is information relating to the seller’s research and development, and anything else having to do with their proprietary rights.
Production process: This includes all the processes used in the creation, manufacturing, and production of the seller’s process and services.
Computer technology: This includes all the technical and scientific information about any process or machine used by the seller.
These are also known as mutual or two-way NDAs, where both parties require the other to maintain a level of confidentiality. This is common in ongoing partnerships, specifically of the manufacturing kind. If a business needs a manufacturer to make their products and the manufacturer has a production process they want to keep private, a bilateral NDA is perfect for them. They’re also perfect for corporate takeovers, joint ventures, mergers, and acquisitions.
NDAs of this type include more than two parties. It doesn’t matter if it’s one, two, or all of the parties sharing confidential information, once there are more than two, it becomes a multilateral NDA. Many of the NDA types under unilateral agreements can be multilateral as long as only one party is sharing confidential information. If not, then these NDAs will most resemble bilateral NDAs where there are mutual promises and agreements to secrecy.
Contact Us for Help With All Types of NDAs
Our corporate law attorney has the experience needed to write any of your NDAs. Whether they’re with employees, buyers, sellers, or partners, we have the experience to make what you need. If you need someone to review an NDA that’s been given to your business or employees, we can review it to ensure you can realistically follow it. Contact our team today.
Loans and payouts aren’t only for incredibly wealthy and successful multi-billion dollar businesses. For small businesses, there is what is called a Small Business Administration loan, or an SBA loan for short. These loans are designed to support small businesses as they start and/or grow in profit and manpower.
What is the SBA?
The SBA, a U.S. agency that guarantees and oversees loans to small businesses, is designed to counsel and assist small business owners with growing their own businesses. They have tools and educational resources available, some for free and some not. These tools and resources include:
Loans: The agency itself doesn’t loan small businesses money but connects them to sources that do and oversee the loan process. These loans are issued by banks, credit unions, and other financial institutions that partner with the SBA.
Entrepreneurial Development: These counseling and training programs are provided by the SBA for a low cost. There’s no experience level required to take them, and they also have mentor programs that can connect new business owners to retired and existing entrepreneurs. There are over 1,800 locations that offer these services across the country.
Contracting: The SBA handles 23% of the U.S. government’s contracting dollars. They only give these contract dollars to small businesses that can provide a service or product for federal departments and agencies. 5% of the 23% is reserved for women-led businesses, 3% for disabled and veteran-led businesses, and the remaining 15% can go to anyone.
Advocacy: The SBA also works as an advocate for small businesses in the nation by reviewing legislation and pushing laws that serve the interests of small business owners.
What is an SBA Loan?
As mentioned, the SBA connects small businesses to loan providers and guarantees your loan. They only partner with verified loan providers that can be trusted to work with small businesses to succeed. The only time the SBA will loan out money themselves is to provide disaster relief.
Having a backed or guaranteed loan means that if the recipient defaults on it or can’t pay it on time, a third party will assume the debt. This means if a small business takes on an SBA loan and defaults on it, the SBA will have your back and take responsibility for the loan.
What Are the Types of SBA Loans?
Like any loan, there are multiple types that serve different purposes. Sometimes a business needs more money than others, and for different reasons. Because of this, the loans have different repayment schedules and different qualifications for loan approval. These SBA loan types include:
504 Loan: Also known as a Grow loan, this provides up to $5 million to a small business to buy assets the business needs to operate. This can include real estate property.
7(a) Loan: This is the SBA’s primary loan program. The maximum loan amount is $5 million and is commonly used for starting businesses.
Disaster Loans: These provide relief in the event of an uncontrollable disaster. This can include natural events like a storm, hurricane, and earthquake, or emergencies such as robberies, riots, and product recalls.
Having the backing of the SBA makes your business far more likely to receive a loan. The agency also allows businesses to make lower payments for a longer time period than loans without the backing of the SBA.
What Do You Need an Attorney For?
A common misconception about SBA loans is that if you fail to pay them, the SBA will cover them for you. You still have to pay the SBA instead, they’re just easier to handle and will charge your business less than another loan lender, but you still have to pay. What you should do in this situation is modify your repayment plan, and to do that with the loan lender or the SBA, you need an attorney.
To change your payment plan, or keep shady loan collectors off your back, contact the corporate law attorney at Tressler & Associates for help.
Starting a new business is exciting. It’s taking your life path and swerving off to make a new one for yourself. It’s not easy, either. To begin a new startup, you need funding, employees, a business plan, and a product or service. That’s just what a business needs to operate. When you consider the important business documents you need to start your business, there’s so much more.
You’re the entrepreneur, you know how to get everything you need to operate, but business documents are plentiful and complicated. Even if you have started a business before, one document of the same type rarely looks the same from industry to industry. To make sure that these documents are legal, cover their bases, and protect your business in the context of your state, consider having an entrepreneurial attorney draft or review them for you. It’s our job to understand and recognize the minute details of these documents.
What Important Business Documents Do All Startups Need?
The business documents that startup owners need to complete prove their ownership, establish control over their business, confirm funding, and inform the government what taxes the business should be paying. These are documents that they need to always have on file, and several have to be filed with the government.
#1. Founder and Partnership Agreements
Founders’ and partnership agreements are needed if your startup is being founded by multiple people. This can include original and primary investors, co-owners of the company’s original patent or copyright, and anyone else who is helping to build the foundation of the company.
Even if you are the only founder, you still would want this document because it establishes your leadership and responsibilities. While you can skip this agreement, you leave yourself open to potential lawsuits that this defends against.
#2. Intellectual Property Protection
While not all new businesses build themselves off an original intellectual property (IP) like a patent or trade secret, the ones that do need to protect that IP. If an original IP allows your startup to stand out from the competition, another business legally getting a hold of it would be devastating.
Intellectual property protections come in various forms. Trademarks and copyrights are the most common forms of IP protection, and you want to file them with the government as soon as possible so other companies can’t legally use your IP.
#3. Operating Agreements
Every business needs short-term and long-term goals. This agreement provides strategies and procedures while establishing the business’s goals. While this binds you to work towards these goals, it binds fellow founders and execs as well. A business can’t succeed if it’s run by people with different motives and ideas about success.
To create an operating agreement, you need to decide what types of business you’re going to file under. There are three types of businesses you can file as, and you need to establish which type to make a legal operating agreement, and for your taxes.
If you eventually find that an operating agreement’s short-term and long-term goals do not benefit your business, you can update or change them with an attorney’s help.
#4. Joint Venture Agreements
If your startup has a group of founders rather than just one, your startup might be considered a joint venture. A joint venture is whenever multiple parties or businesses come together for a business venture, and a new startup counts as one.
Having a few individuals doesn’t necessarily count as a joint venture. Talk to an attorney to see if your business qualifies. If your business does, then you need a joint venture agreement. This important business document will establish the needs and responsibilities each of you has to fulfill.
#5. Loan Promissory Notes
Unless you have the money to support a business yourself or capital from another investing business, you’ll need a loan to start your business. Loans can be to set up a place of business, order or create products, pay workers, and market your business.
It’s best to get these loans from banks, but before you can sign one, you need to create or receive a promissory note. These are legally binding contracts and you should have an attorney review them so you understand the consequences of a missed payment. It’s always risky when you’re starting a new business, but this way is especially. You’re the one taking on all the risk of your startup if it fails. Give yourself every edge and protection you can.
Contact the Entrepreneurial Attorney at Tressler & Associates
No contract is simple. They all have complicated legal jargon that can be confusing. Don’t let yourself get tricked into a bad contract that hurts your partnership, ownership, or ability to provide for yourself.
The entrepreneurial attorney at Tressler & Associates is available to create and review any of these business documents for you. Contact us today.
Most people don’t have the cash they need to start a business, so they get funding from lenders. If a small business owner has good enough credit and a good business plan, they can get funding from a bank loan. However, the bank often denies a startup a loan because they do not have strong enough collateral. This often leads to startups seeking funding from angel round financing or crowd-sourced financing.
But are these good alternatives? Sometimes small business owners will attempt one of these types of financing to get collateral for a bank loan, but is that a good idea? Both have their strengths and weaknesses and will work better for some startups than others. The entrepreneurial attorney at Tressler & Associates, PLLC can help you figure out which type of financing is best for you and what legal documents you need to attempt either.
The Pros & Cons of Angel Round Financing
Angel round financing is when a single or small group of high-net-worth individuals want to invest in a company. These individuals are called angel investors and make a profitby investing in shares of companies. They can later sell off their shares of the business for a profit or continuously profit off their share for years.
Angel financing can produce more money. Depending on the worth of the angel investor, they may prefer to invest enough into your business that you don’t need a bank loan. This way, they can have a bigger stake and more profit while you take on less risk depending on the investor.
Angel financing is not a loan. While there are exceptions, it is uncommon for angel investors to treat their investment like a loan. They can seek a contract that says a small business owner will pay it back, but usually, angel investors don’t expect money to be repaid. They typically treat it as a business venture or investment that will lead to more money. This doesn’t happen if their investment is treated like a loan with minor interest.
Angel investors take on the risk. Since there’s no loan and the investment doesn’t have to be paid back, the risk on the business owner is lessened incredibly. If the business goes under, there’s no collateral other than the business itself. There’s also no bank breathing down your neck, damaging your credit score. While a failed business will affect your resume and portfolio, that’s something many would prefer over owing a bank after a failed business.
Angel investors are usually also business owners. Angel investors naturally want your business to succeed and are typically more than happy to provide advice, connections, and resources to help your business become successful. In many ways, an angel investor can be like a business partner.
Risk of more pressure while the business is operating. Ultimately, it doesn’t matter to a bank if you succeed or fail as long as you make your payments. They’re not going to pressure you to do well or change your business philosophy. An angel investor will, as they want you to succeed so they can get a profit. While having a business partner can be helpful, it can also be a pain if you have different business philosophies.
Angel investors have a controlling stake in your business. Where a bank cannot tell you how to run your business, an angel investor with shares in your company can. If you disagree and come into conflict on how to proceed, your business can stall.
The Pros & Cons of Crowd-Sourced Financing
Crowd-sourced financing is any funding you can get from donations from the general public. While going out and asking people for money isn’t feasible, online sites like Kickstarter, GoFundMe, IndieGoGo, and Patreon have made it easy for people to donate money. You can advertise your crowdfunding campaign on a budget and these sites will push them to help you find success. It’s not common for small businesses to fund their entire startup on crowd-sourced financing, but it’s how many have attracted investors or gained collateral for a bank loan.
You can choose whether your funding is equity-based. To be equity-based means that anyone who invests is investing for a portion of your business’s shares. Not all crowd-sourced financing options allow for this, but you can use one that does to reward investors for funding your business. At the same time, you can choose not to, so you don’t owe anyone anything but an attempt at starting your business.
Creates proof that there is a market for your business. When you start a business, it’s to offer a service or product. Investors are investing in the idea that people want to use that service or product. When you can’t presale a product before production, crowd-sourced financing can prove consumer interest. It’s hard to argue that there’s no market for your business when people are paying you without even getting the service or product.
You can use crowd-sourced financing at any time. You don’t have to attend conventions or make appointments with investors. With crowd-sourced financing, you decide when to ask for funding. This is useful when you need to attract investors, purchase collateral, or cover the surprise costs of starting a business. It’s a lot faster to start a Kickstarter campaign than it is to find an investor.
Fundraising is often limiting. Angel investors are usually incredibly well-off, enough so that if your business fails, they’ll make it out just fine. With crowd-sourced financing, you’re relying on the general public. There’s no guarantee that they’ll have the money you’re looking for or offer it to you. Crowd-sourced financing also rarely provides enough money to start a business. Its strength lies in covering costs or helping startups afford collateral for a bank loan.
Which is Best for Your Startup?
When it comes to angel round financing vs. crowd-sourced financing, it depends on how you feel about potentially taking on business partners. It’s unlikely that angel investors will just leave you to your own devices. If you feel your business can only succeed under your vision, you can’t do angel round financing, but if you welcome help, angel investors are the way to go.
If you wish to pursue crowd-sourced financing, your best option is to use it to collect collateral or prove to a bank that your business is a safe investment for a loan. Then you can run your business without outside interference as long as you pay back loan payments.
Why Do You Need an Attorney for Angel Round Financing & Crowd-Sourced Financing?
Whether you partner with angel investors or take out a loan, you need legal documentation protecting your rights to your business and the money you take. Failing to obtain documentation can use serious problems in the future, and potentially cause you to lose your business.
Even with crowd-sourced financing, you need to establish control, and how much power your supporters do or don’t have. For specifics on what documentation you need, how to create them, and how to file them, you need an experienced entrepreneurial attorney.
Contact Tressler & Associates, PLLC for Help
Starting a new business is something you have to take seriously. Once you know what kind of business you want to start, financing is the most important thing. Without money, you can’t start a business, but money can come with unwanted consequences.
Contact the entrepreneurial law attorney at Tressler & Associates, PLLC for help. We’ll help you make sure that your financing and your control over your business are protected.
Starting a business is one of the hardest things you will ever do, and running a business is a close second. Every day will bring new challenges but also new possibilities to improve and further your business. Some possibilities bring risks that can seriously hurt your business, but also catapult it into the stratosphere. One of these possibilities is buying a business.
You can buy a business for many reasons. Another business may have a patent or technology you need or help you improve your revenue by opening you up to another industry. One of the more exciting possibilities is buying a competitor to take control of the market and allow you to do more of what you already do. There are many reasons to consider buying a business, but with any large business venture comes risk.
If you’re planning to buy a business but are unsure of what risks you may take on, consider contacting an entrepreneurial law attorney. We can look into the legal requirements and risks that go into buying a company, taking into account the new business’s size, your current business’s size, both associated industries, and what the state(s) requires for such a purchase. The attorneys at Tressler & Associates are ready to help.
What Are the Risks When Buying a Business?
Let’s divide potential business purchases into two categories: buying a business in the same or similar industry as your business and buying a business in a different industry. Some risks apply to both, but some risks are only associated with one type of business purchase and not the other. Some universal risks include:
Onboarding Employees: Odds are that any business you purchase will not have the same company culture as yours. This means the employees have different work processes and work ethics. You have to either reconcile these differences with your business’s working process or transition them completely to yours. If management is up to this challenge, this can cause both businesses to stall and suffer.
Onboarding Customers: Even if you buy another business, you still have to remind its customers that you’re here to serve/sell to them. Customers won’t automatically understand that your business is the only one that can help them without you showing it. You need to have marketing blasts, public transitions, and constant contact with your new customers. You also have to do so in a way that abides by corporate law, especially while the purchase is still going through.
Gathering Capital: You have to have the capital to purchase a business like you would anything else. In most cases, businesses would take out loans rather than spend a large amount of their business savings. Getting a loan leads to the risk of being in debt should the business venture go array. It can even be the reason the business venture doesn’t have the chance to work out because you can’t pay back the loans or other investments you collected.
Keeping Track of Taxes: While the types of taxes may change depending on what kind of business you’re purchasing, you will have to pay more and track more. When you have to start filing as one entity together, or as two separate entities, is something attorneys and financial analysts can guide you through as time goes on.
IP Ownership: Once you settle the transfer of trademarks, copyrights, and patents to your business, you still have to deal with branding issues. This extends beyond marketing but having to own the various different combinations of your brand with your new businesses. You also have two brands you have to protect. Even if you completely rebrand the business you’re buying to be like yours, you still have to make sure that no one infringes on your purchase’s intellectual property.
Risks of Buying a Business in Your Industry
While there may be fewer problems with onboarding employees and customers since you know what they sell, there are more problems surrounding the purchase itself. If you’ve been paying attention to the news, company mergers are popular right now, with names big and small gobbling each other up and disrupting their industries.
A small business buying up another small business isn’t going to be as big a deal as Disney buying 20th Century Fox, but it may affect your local community. Competition is key to our economy on every level. If there are three businesses in the neighborhood competing for the same audience and one buys another, then the third can do something about it.
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has several laws and regulations about this. You can be investigated and need your purchase approved if your business is important enough to your local economy or someone else in the market has a problem with it. This means you have to contend with competitors and the government if you’re not careful about your purchase. To avoid these kinds of problems, extensive research needs to be done across multiple fields, especially entrepreneurial law.
Risks of Buying a Business Outside of Your Industry
While the government may be less inclined to keep you from entering a new industry, competitors may be more so. When you buy a business in another industry, you aren’t removing one of the competitors in that market unless you plan to shutter the business. This does mean that you’re giving your purchase a perceived advantage in the marketplace by giving them your investment. Competitors will see this as a threat and try to drive you out. Sellers may even decide not to work with you because you’re not a trusted veteran in the industry.
Not having connections, even as rivals, can make it difficult to be successful. No industry is welcoming to outsiders, and you may have many competitors and tangentially related companies who actively try to keep you out. This can lead to a purchase that has wasted your money.
The other issue is that when your business operates across multiple industries, there are more laws and regulations you have to follow. If you’re not familiar with everything you’re buying into, you need an attorney who can explain it. You will likely need legal professionals to review your decisions for years before you’re operating in perfect condition.
Consider the Risks with the Help of Tressler & Associates
We have several attorneys with experience helping businesses find success in their many different business ventures. Our attorneys review business documents, create them, and work with businesses to plan for the future as best we can. This way, your business is less likely to be slowed and threatened by a business risk you want to take. Buying another business is one prime example of how we can help.
For entrepreneurial attorneys who can help you through the process of buying another business, contact Tressler & Associates today.
Non-disclosure agreements (NDA) are designed to protect your business’s intellectual property. When you operate a business, you likely have some sort of business secret that lets you separate yourself from your competitors. These can relate to your business’s operating process, your product, or just your brand. These can take the form of trade secrets, copyrights, patents, or trademarks.
NDAs are for when you need to share these business secrets but also need who you’re sharing them with to keep them secret. When someone signs an NDA, they agree to never reveal the business secret, or at least not speak of it until a certain time. But NDAs aren’t a one-size fits all solution. There are instances where someone cannot sign an NDA, so you either have to change your plans so you don’t need this person anymore or need another way to ensure their secrecy.
If you don’t know when someone cannot sign an NDA, the entrepreneurial and corporate law attorneys at Tressler & Associates can help.
Who Can’t Sign an NDA?
When it comes to types of people who can’t sign NDAs, that are a few groups who make up a large portion of the population:
People with compromised mental faculties
Someone who already knows the contents of the NDA
A minor is anyone under the age of 18 years old. They are not adults in the eyes of the law and do not have the capacity to understand and sign binding contracts.
While it’s not technically illegal for a minor to sign on a dotted line, no contract they sign is legal and is null and void. It cannot be used against them even after they eventually turn 18. This means that if a child gets a hold of or hears of your business’s secret through legal means, they can’t be made to keep it a secret.
A Person with Compromised Mental Faculties
Someone with compromised mental faculties would be considered someone who cannot make decisions for themselves. This can be due to mental disabilities, traumatic brain injury, or being in a coma. They cannot safely make decisions for themselves so they also cannot sign a contract. If they have a conservatorship, that person may be able to sign for them in certain situations.
Anyone under the influence of alcohol or drugs cannot sign legally binding contracts. This means it is important to verify the mental condition of whoever you want to sign an NDA. If they can prove that they were under the influence when they signed the NDA, it can become null and void, while they still know your business’s secret(s).
Informed or Potentially Informed Persons
A person cannot be forced to sign an NDA for information they already know. This situation occurs when they have learned your business’s secrets:
Prior to being presented with the NDA
From a third party on a non-confidential basis
From reverse engineering a product or device
If you accidentally reveal important information to someone before they sign an NDA, any NDA they sign to keep that specific information secret is null and void. You can still have them sign NDAs for related information they don’t know yet.
For example, if they find out about a new product you have, you can have them sign an NDA about the contents or process of making the product. This way if they explain what they already knew, they’re likely to break the NDA for what they found out.
This same legal logic also applies to anything in the public domain. While someone may not know the specifics of what is in the public domain, they could have learned about it before they were asked to sign an NDA. They cannot sign an NDA to keep secret what they–or anyone–could know before they were shown the NDA.
Contact Tressler & Associates When Someone Can’t Sign Your NDA
Tressler & Associates can help you write airtight NDAs and other business documents. When someone can’t sign an NDA, there are other documents that can make them legally obligated to protect your business’s intellectual property. That’s just one of the solutions we can offer to help your business. For more information and a consultation, contact us today.
We want to thank everyone who came out to celebrate with us for our 5 year Anniversary bash! We also want to thank each and every one of you who have supported us along the way, worked with us and been a part of our success. We look forward to serving you for many more years to come. We had a great evening surrounded by friends, family and business partners. We were honored to hear from Jodi McCullah of SAFE (Soldiers And Families Embraced), JT Cooper and Opal Justice for sharing their message with us and the stories of those servicemen who fought for our nation. We were entertained by Charles “Wigg” Walker and the Wigg Band. We had fun at the photo booth provided by Out of the Box and refreshments from Acme Feed & Seed. It was a fun evening of conversation, celebration and a lawyer or two showing off some dance moves.
Our theme for the evening was “Thankfulness” and we enjoyed reading the notes you left on our wall. We were inspired to read all that you were appreciative of this past year. It was great to hear such positive messages and to focus on our many blessings. It is easy to get caught up in the small stresses of our busy lives and it is always a positive thing to step back and realize all we have to be thankful for.
We have a lot of things coming up in the New Year. We just released our new website and our blog. Keep any eye on this as we hope to bring you all a wealth of helpful information that we hope will be truly useful to you. We are also in process of building out our second location in Mt. Juliet and hope to announce its official opening early in 2015. We have great aspirations for next year and once again thank you for your continued support; we couldn’t do it without you!
Here are a few photos from the night. To see the full gallery of pictures Click Here.