Tony skinner 00:01
Hi, and welcome to the podcast with www.podcastmybusiness.com.au. And today we’re joined by Elise Margow from www.legallyspeaking.net.au. So, no guesses as to what we’re going to be talking about for small businesses. How are you, Elise?
I’m doing well today and how are you doing?
Tony skinner 00:23
I’m fantastic. I know, I led the way that I did. But we’re talking about something a little bit different to the normal, legal perspective. And that is, how important it is, for a solicitor or lawyer to be an essential part of your business that isn’t just being regarded as a cost center how you can positively contribute towards the business.
Yeah, I think that is one of the most important things we as lawyers have to do to change the perception of who we are. And it makes sense that people see us as cost centers, because you don’t see a lawyer as someone who’s going to generate income for you. But at the same time, given our experience, and if we really care commercially about your business, we will be working with you to enhance your business opportunities and outcomes, minimize disputes, and in so doing, hopefully help you generate income, while avoiding the tracks and legal issues that might come up. So in fact, getting us involved in your business planning and strategies means that hopefully, in the long term, you’ll be spending time worrying about your business and not about regulators coming after you or your competition suing you, or anything like that. Yeah.
Tony skinner 01:51
Okay. All right. So that’s good. So you’re talking about competition and all sorts of other areas? Well, we’re heading out of COVID. And I know you’re in Melbourne, and you guys, you know, heading out as well. So are there any particular legal issues, especially when it comes to having staff back in the office that we need to have a look at?
Yeah, absolutely. COVID is very interesting, because of the continual need to be flexible. So you want to set up your office in a way that whether you suddenly have to slow down and take people out of the office or bring them back, you have a flexible work arrangement. So you can do that more easily. But I would suggest the first thing is, how do you set people up in the office? What is the distance between the desks, one of the things people are talking about is can we get away with not wearing masks for as long a period as possible? Because you know, that employees don’t want to be sitting wearing a mask the whole day. The other issue is how do you minimize the number of people in the office while keeping teams going. So I know a lot of my clients are working on what we call the yellow and the hanby. Red team. So when we, the red team has three days in the office one week, the yellow team has three days in the office, and then you know, three two three two swap overs. And so they the businesses are trying to work on having less people in the office at the same time, having greater distances between desks and trying to make work fun within a distance working environment on site, which is quite weird.
Tony skinner 03:34
Yeah, look, it can be hard. I know, they print all these things on the floor, and maximum capacity in the kitchenette area, and so on and so forth. But it’s going to be a strange world for a few more months yet. But of course, good progressive businesses are already looking to the new year going well, it’s going to be new year, we’re gonna burst out of the blocks. So how can we help businesses to do that?
Well, the first thing is, I know most businesses, whether they’ve had what I call a good COVID, in that their business has worked well through the COVID times or whether businesses have been struggling to survive. It’s to give yourself a break in. And that sounds weird after being locked down, but to give yourself a break between Christmas and maybe the first few weeks in January and just rest because COVID has caused a lot of fatigue. And it’s hard in this fatigue state to suddenly be all you know, bright and ambitious. So let yourself rest and then really use that opportunity to start thinking of ways of doing things outside the square.
So for example, do you do have more meetings outside? You know, can you create an outdoor area within your business where your your team can meet? And do you start playing up zoom? meetings more regularly? Do you stop traveling as much and save costs? Because we know that zoom and working, or teams works quite well? Do you push your business more internationally or nationally if you’re a local business, because we got to use to during COVID times tapping into digital ways of doing business and communicating and meeting, so these are all new businesses or business opportunities, and, it’s not that expensive to digitally communicate these days. For example, I’ve got a client at the moment who is talking very seriously about doing more business regionally, and sending one or two people out there to start growing the business in the regions because they know they can keep in touch from a digital digital perspective. Yeah.
Tony skinner 05:52
Now, we’re gonna look at another area of business, of course, which is where the listeners come in, and that’s businesses that aren’t going to make it or may have a benefit of restructuring, and closing down and reopening, what’s your recommendations for that?
Well, it really depends on taking, and being honest with yourself taking a long view. So for example, if you’re in travel, and a few of my clients are in travel, you would look ahead and think, well, maybe if I can survive for the next six months, there will be less competition in the market. And I might be able to make it you know, and I should be very busy going forward, once the vaccine kicks in. So I can hold out and therefore is it worth either restructuring, and doing a few things. I know one travel agent started selling food during COVID. In order to keep the business running or keep keep making some form of money, while thinking about the future, so there’s that but if your business is not going to work out long term, if being COVID, you’ve just avoided the inevitable you know, you’ve locked down, you’ve had your keeper, it’s kept your business afloat in little things. This isn’t the time where you think you’re going to make it if it wasn’t going to make it beforehand, it’s time to cut your losses and run and try and do it as as simply as possible. And that is perhaps not even going through the insolvency and bankruptcy route. But rather looking at it from a perspective of working out a plan to pay your creditors shutting up shopping and moving on.
Tony skinner 07:38
Yeah, exactly right. So there has to be a time where you start thinking about it. And that’s why you can come in and guide people go look, you know what, yeah, record with a little bit more you can survive, and you can survive, you’ve got less competition, and what have you. So, if a business wants to start in the new year, let’s look at the positive aspects. So what would they should they be looking at?
Well, I always think it’s a good idea if you’re starting and, you know, I try to convince my entrepreneurial clients to do that. And see, lawyers and financial people who specialize in entrepreneurship in working with entrepreneurs and small business, what we can help you do is work out what kind of structures you should be putting in place to best meet your business expectations, and also to protect you in case things go wrong. And also, if things go right, so for example, you know, often with entrepreneurs, they’ll come in and see me and say, well, we’re just going to have a partnership agreement to begin with. And that might make sense. But at times, I’m looking at their business saying it’s a high risk business, there’s a lot of capital flowing through it, you’re looking for investors, etc. No investors going to want to invest in a partnership, right? And so let’s look at a structure that will help you get equity in your business by outside investors. Or if you’re going to the banks and getting loans, what kind of structure would work for you?
And also how would you grow the business is a small term solution. Alternatively, if it’s a really simple business idea where you’re just trying to play around there might say, Well, actually, let’s use the partnership structure, do something very simple and see how the business goes and let’s work together. The same. You know, if you’ve got a really great accountant or financial advisor who specializes with entrepreneurs and small business, they can help you work out a plan of how best to manage your money in your funds and any loans that you might need in order to build the business of it. You don’t crash and burn as you start. And most importantly, if you’re working with the right lawyer or accountant, they’re going to give you the energy to build as opposed to try and bring you back so obviously are sometimes really tight just to bring some reality checks, but we Not there to hold you back with it just to enable you to grow and flourish within a secure structure that meets your needs.
Tony skinner 10:08
So, again, if I was starting up a new business in the new year, what should I guess? What should I be looking at specifically? Before I start up that business that you would look at?
Well, the first thing is, what is the business Really? And how much? You know, it does require a lot of investment, both in time energy funding? Is it the kind of business that’s high risk? You know, I would say like a food business, for example, is quite high risk. Because if you get things wrong, you can poison people. For example, if it’s creating a simple game app, well, maybe not. But that’s not necessarily high rate. So firstly, what kind of business? Do I have the necessary funds, people, management ideas, relate working to get it off the ground marketing. So it’s a kind of ideas you should ask Anyway, you know, around there before, because as far as the law finances concerned, what we’re doing is we’re working with what you’ve already started developing, we can help you and build with you. But you have to have a very clear idea of what it is you’re doing. Where you’re heading, do you have the phones? Do you have the people? Or do you still need to build it one step at a time, and take your time with it. And so be realistic, we all have great ideas, but putting them into place can be a lot harder, and a lot more planning than we like to think.
Tony skinner 11:49
Yeah, exactly. Right. And you’re right. But that planning, and that’s where you come in, right at the very, very beginning, chat to a lawyer before you launch just to make sure you’re not at the i’s and cross the T’s. Because even with contracts, I mean, you want to get clients, and what sort of contracts Do you need to get clients to sign to start working for?
Exactly, you know, they things for example, like what should be on your website, and I know a lot of my entrepreneurial clients hate contracts. And they think this will put people off. And I always say, actually, when people see a well set out, for example, website with terms and conditions with policies, or if you go and you speak to a supplier or investor and you’ve got a confidentiality agreement, people think, Oh, this person is professional. I’m not dealing with a fly by night is just cobbled something together. So getting the right mix of a contract that is operational and works well for you either supply or with your customers, sending out the right policies on your website, which is obviously more common nowadays, a lot of businesses work digitally and online. And so getting the website right, getting the right legals around that it really makes you look pretty professional, as far as that’s concerned. And my best advice is don’t worry about contracts. They’re not as bad as they seem. They’re an operational document to help you and not a president just to put on site.
Tony skinner 13:24
Yeah, exactly right there just to help you get going. And yeah, don’t be, don’t sweat it too much.
Let your lawyer sweat for that.
Tony skinner 13:35
Exactly. Right. Cool. All right. Anything else you’d like to add?
Basically, just remember that when you’re setting up business, or you you’re working through a business, there are people who have that have seen things and can think objectively, and who are not right in the thick of the fray. And those people could realize they could be financial advisors, accountants or business specialists. But it’s always worthwhile having that person to discuss things with and have some feedback about what people think. And, you know, you use those people to be sounding blocks, and they will help you grow and help you work out what your risks are.
Tony skinner 14:21
Great, fantastic. Okay. All right. Look, thanks very much for your time, Elise. And that’s Elise from www.legallyspeaking.net.au. And thanks so much for your time.
Thank you so much. I really appreciated the time talking to you.
Tony skinner 14:37