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Archive for the ‘Business Law’ Category

No Pain, No Gain. 05.09.2011

We’re a physically active group at Joner Lindberg Baker. We run, we hike, we climb, we swim, we bike, we lift. We are dedicated to staying in (at least reasonable) physical shape. But like most people, getting consistent exercise and maintaining a healthy diet isn’t always the easiest thing to do. In order to be as successful as we’d like in our physical performance, there are four steps we have to employ on a regular basis:

1. Create a do-able plan
2. Find a source of accountability
3. Work, work, work
4. Measure, adjust and reward

As you run your business, you should also consider how these four steps can help you achieve the business performance you are seeking.

Create a Do-able Plan
We will continue to encourage all of our business clients to plan, plan, plan. You are substantially more likely to achieve your goals if you define those goals in the first place! A plan is the map your business will follow on it’s journey, and if you don’t have a good map, you are likely to get lost.

Find A Source of Accountability
Just as it’s easy to fall off the exercise bandwagon after a short-period of success, it’s also easy to abandon your business plan. The easiest way to ensure that you stay on your exercise regime is to hire a trainer or workout with a buddy. The same goes for your business. You can develop your relationship with your lawyer, accountant, insurance agent and financial adviser so that these professionals can keep you aiming at your goals. You can also team up with other business owners to form an informal “board of directors” for your business. This “board” can then help move you along when you feel the dedication to sticking to your plans slipping away.

Work, Work, Work
The old adage of “No pain . . . no gain” is true. If you don’t work hard, you won’t see any positive results. Don’t let your insecurities dominate you. Work hard! Hard work over a long period of time is sometimes the only way you will ever get the results you want. Don’t give up!

Measure, Adjust and Reward
It’s easy to feel and see your physical body transform while engaging in a long-term workout program. You lose fat. You gain lean muscle mass. You have more energy. You can move faster and for a longer period of time without the same fatigue you used to encounter. A healthy business also has measurables you can monitor regularly. You can see a bigger profit margin. You have better systems in place. Your employees are happier. Your ability to give back to your community is enhanced. Just like you step on the scale at home, step on the scale at work too. Measure the progress of your goals, adjust those goals when necessary and don’t forget to reward yourself (and your employees) when you reach or exceed a goal!

As always, if the attorneys in Snoqualmie or Battle Ground can help you with any aspect of running your business, please give us a call . . . or better yet, come on a run, ride or hike with us. We’d be glad to have you join us!

I want to get even! 04.20.2011

When is it a good idea to sue someone? Even if you have a valid claim that might justify filing a lawsuit against someone, often there are reasons not to sue. Because litigation is likely to be expen­sive, we always encourage our clients to assess the value of filing a lawsuit prior to initiating legal action.

If you are thinking about filing a lawsuit you should evaluate whether a lawsuit makes economic sense. You should have a clear understanding of the amount you are plan­ning to sue for, what damages you might receive, and the expense involved in receiving those damages. At a minimum, think about these four things:

Lit­i­ga­tion Costs: Lit­i­ga­tion is expen­sive. Even the smallest cases will likely cost at least $10,000 and you are not always assured that you will be entitled to recover your attorney fees.
Potential for Recovery: Does the person you intend to sue have any assets worth pursuing? Might there be insurance coverage that could result in a recovery?
Timing: Litigation can be time consuming? Are you looking for a quick resolution to a matter or do you have months or even years to see a litigation through to the end?
Emotions: Because litigation can be costly and time consuming, it can create a great amount of tension in your life. If you don’t handle stress well, a prolonged legal battle might not be a good idea for you.

If you have specific questions about litigation, call us at either of our Battle Ground or Snoqualmie offices. We can talk you through the costs and issues and help you have a better understanding of whether litigation is something you should pursue.

Cup half full or cup half empty? 03.10.2011

There are innumerable stories in business leadership lore regarding how one’s perception can influence one’s actions. For example:

Many years ago two salesmen were sent by a British shoe manufacturer to Africa to investigate and report back on market potential.

The first salesman reported back, “There is no potential here – nobody wears shoes.”

The second salesman reported back, “There is massive potential here – nobody wears shoes.”

How do you perceive the world around you – negatively or positively?

The Super Bowl and Small Business 02.01.2011

February is upon us which means that many of us are gearing up for our annual Super Bowl parties. This year it’s Packers v. Steelers in a game that features two of the NFL’s most storied franchises. However, the big game isn’t the only NFL story making big news this week. Some are wondering if this might be the last NFL game we see for awhile because of a looming clash between the NFL owners and players over the league’s Collective Bargaining Agreement. While many of us are extremely excited about the Super Bowl (GO PACKERS!), others are legitimately worried that a labor dispute will force the owners to cancel next season in order to force a new deal with the players.

How could one of the most successful enterprises in the United States (an $8 billion a year business that could cost every NFL city – including Seattle and surrounding areas of King County – over $150 million in jobs and revenue) get to the point where everyone in the business including owners, coaches, staff and players could all lose? And what can the labor dispute in the NFL teach small businesses everywhere about business operations?

First, business is business. No matter how good things might be going for your business and no matter how great the outlook for the future might be, business owners can never take their focus off the fact that running a business is tough work and requires constant attention. In Clark County and East King County, small business owners are in a constant battle to develop their businesses beyond the survival phase and into the prosperity phase. Yet even those businesses that do achieve the little bit of breathing room that prosperity can temporarily offer must always continue to push forward in developing all areas of their business. Complacency in business leads to failure, whether your business is in Battle Ground or Snoqualmie or if your business is the National Football League.

Second, surrounding your business with the best professional team you can is the most likely road to success. While both the owners and players union in the NFL have strong arguments regarding their labor positions, it is likely that the side with the best lawyers and accountants is going to have an upper hand in the upcoming labor negotiations. Using an attorney who specializes in small business law or real estate law or land use law could be critical to the success of your business. While many small business owners bristle at the idea of spending a lot of money on lawyers, others have come to realize that it doesn’t always take a lot of money to get excellent help and good advice. These business owners have realized there is great value in surrounding themselves with professionals who can help make their business a success.

Finally, business owners must always stay realistically optimistic. Even if a labor dispute interrupts the 2011-2012 NFL season, there will be professional football again, and the NFL will continue to be a business juggernaut in the American sport’s world. Similarly, whether you are located in the Portland/Vancouver metro area or in the Seattle/Bellevue area, your business will go through many minor and major bumps during 2011. However, if you remain convinced that you will continue to be a success, those bumps will be easier to manage and you’re more likely to be stronger after enduring the hard times.

So, as you watch the Super Bowl this year, remember that NFL is a business too, and, as such, suffers through the tough business decisions that have to be made – just like you do with your business.

And, once again, GO PACKERS!

Success = Teamwork 01.18.2011

A necessary element in operating a successful small business is to ensure that you surround yourself with other businesses that can enable your success. As lawyers, we work with accountants, financial advisers, insurance agents, bankers, and other service providers, including other attorneys, on a daily basis. Whether in Battle Ground or Snoqualmie, we could not serve our clients without the help of many other Clark and King County businesses.

One such business that we’d like to send a big “Thank You” to is Pipe & Tabor LLC – a brilliant graphic design business located in Vancouver, Washington. Owned and operated by Brian Gage, Pipe & Tabor is a branding and web design firm that has worked with many quality Washington and Oregon businesses, including Joner Lindberg Baker! By helping us create and implement our unique brand of lawyering and building our web site, Pipe & Tabor has helped us get the message out that our law firm is a bit different than other firms out there. Go to to check out some of the other fantastic work the gang at Pipe & Tabor has accomplished. If you need help with branding your business and or need some web design work accomplished, give Brian a call.

If you have other businesses that help make you successful (including law firms!), send them a note of thanks or take them out for lunch.

Business Valuation Seminar with Piper Group International 11.16.2010

Last Friday we hosted a seminar with Piper Group International for fifteen local business owners. The seminar had three parts: (1) an overview of some simple methods to determine the street value of a business, (2) a pragmatic 50-point checklist for increasing the value of a business over time and (3) easy-to-implement steps to protect the value a business might already have.

During and after the seminar, it was clear to see that some of the business owners in attendance were a bit overwhelmed by the amount of information they received during the two-hour workshop. While the information was practical, the task of implementing some of the concepts ultimately means investing time to work through the processes discussed – to work on the business instead of working in the business. Yet the ability to do that – to carve out time in an already busy schedule to do something that doesn’t immediately generate revenue – is often a key factor that separates businesses that get to the light at the end of the tunnel from those that are always grinding, grinding, grinding to take one more step toward that light

Which leads me to some questions. Why can some business owners truly work on the business while others are forever stuck working in the business? Is it our inherent character? Our organizational skills (or lack thereof)? A matter of priorities? Could it be that many business owners are technicians who focus so much on the technical work that they neglect the business part of the business?

If you are business owner struggling with these questions, seek accountability. Whether you talk with other business owners, family members or work with us in either our Snoqualmie or Battle Ground office, sometimes the best way to overcome the inability to work on the business is to make sure you have proper accountability in your business. You are not in this alone!