Will Corona virus affect your business?

Will Corona virus affect your business?

Even though I am a business attorney, I worry like most business owners about current events. Recently, the news and the markets have been rattled by the outbreak of the corona virus. Like me, you are probably wondering how the virus could affect your business and how to mitigate any damages that could be caused by it.

 

For companies that manufacture products (or have products manufactured for them by third parties), the biggest area of concern is where your products are manufactured and where the raw materials to manufacture them come from. If you use manufacturers in China or other areas where the corona virus has shut down factories, you should be looking at securing other manufacturers. Legally, entering into contracts with these manufacturers earlier rather than later may help you against competition that hasn’t done so.

For companies that provide retail or hospitality services, ensuring that you have enough staff to cover for sick employees could be essential. While you may not want to hire additional employees, you can reach out to companies that have different hours or, if your employees are mostly part-time, to companies that also have mostly part-time employees. You can have an agreement with these companies that if either of you are short staffed, you can call the other company to use their employees while they aren’t working for them. Of course, you would want to discuss this with your business lawyer or employment lawyer before you do so to find out the best way to structure the arrangement.

For companies that can offer it, having employees work from home can help mitigate the spread of any disease and keep your business up and running. Essential personnel can still report to the office, but by having less employees at the office, your essential staff can try to maintain CDC recommended distances from each other. Prior to allowing employees to work from home, it is important to contact your insurance company to see if there are any issues with this arrangement. You will also want your business attorney to write agreements for employees to sign if they are going to take any company property home with them, such as a laptop, cell phone, or printer.

Lastly, ensuring that sick employees do not come to work is key. While this is a good policy anyway, with the spread of the flu and potentially the corona virus, it is extremely important. One sick employee at work could easily create a situation where ten employees are out a few days later.

If you need help with any of the agreements listed above, contact me, Elizabeth Lewis, at the Law Office of E.C. Lewis, P.C., home of your Denver Business Attorney. Phone: 720-258-6647. Email: elizabeth.lewis@eclewis.com

Contact Us Today

Law Office of E.C. Lewis, P.C.
Your Denver Business Attorney

Mailing Address:

501 S. Cherry Street, Suite 1100
Denver, CO 80246
720-258-6647
Elizabeth.Lewis@eclewis.com

Online at:

We are still screaming over ice cream!

Several years ago, I wrote a blog about ice cream trucks. Multiple incidents throughout the past year were highlighted, including the dispute between Sno Cone Joe pushed Mr. Ding a Ling.

Well according to CNN, this was only the tip of the ice cream and things have stayed icy for ice cream truck businesses. CNN reported that over 45 ice cream trucks have been seized by the city. The reasons included summons of 22,000 citations for traffic violations resulting in at $4.5 million in fines. However, it gets better. The ice cream truck owners are accused of creating shell companies to avoid the fines.

If you buy ice cream from a truck this summer, make sure to tip well! This is a dangerous business.

If you are thinking about starting an ice cream business, or any other business, call me, your Denver small business attorney, Elizabeth Lewis today at 720-258-6647.

Yes, you do need business insurance if you work from home!

Someone on NextDoor.com asked how bad flooding could be in the Denver area. Here are some pictures of the flooding over the years. I think the one in 2013 was a water main break, but it gives you an idea of what the area looked like before the water receded in the 2015 flood. The 2015 flood pictures (all of the cars) just show the aftermath of of the rainstorm we had. The area has flooded a couple of other times as well, unfortunately I didn’t take pictures the other times. The cars are all of the sidewalk (or wherever they ended up) because of the force of the water. The water reached up to the front door (and probably further inside) in the picture with the cab if memory serves me right. This is right at 14th and Kearney/Krameria behind Mayfair Liquors for reference. Just another good reason to make sure you have business insurance – and especially a rider for business equipment if you work from home as your home owner’s insurance may not cover business property in your house without a rider.

 

Essentials, Elements, and Errors in Contract Law

Essentials, Elements, and Errors in Contract Law

Essentials, Elements, and Errors in Contract Law

As a small business owner, you are constantly faced with contracts. A contract is an agreement between two or more parties in which there is a promise to do something in return for a valuable benefit. You may have contracts with customers, vendors, employees, contractors, and other individuals or businesses. Oral agreements are sometimes used, but formal written contracts provide legal documentation. Contracts are legally enforceable and should be used to safeguard your resources. Small or new businesses may be more susceptible to mistakes when it comes to the numerous types and complex legal terms of contracts. The Law Office of EC Lewis PC can help create contracts, clarify existing or new contracts and agreements, and provide protection before or after you enter into any binding contract, making sure you understand the essentials, elements, and common errors in contract law. This post will cover contracts that are essential to the success of your small business, the elements of a solid contract, and the most common errors made in business contracts.

1. Essential Contracts

Contracts help to build relationships and protect your business. With the right legal documents, you will protect your property (intellectual and actual), avoid contract disputes, and limit your liability. Here are some contracts that are essential to your small business.

Service Contract – outlines exactly what you will provide or be provided by another company
Employment Agreement/Employment Offer Letter – specifies the rights and obligations of every full time or salaried employee; an employment offer letter should include all of the components of the employment agreement
Independent Contractor Agreement – signed agreements should be in place for every consultant or short-term employee
Equipment Lease – use this contract to lease equipment or lease out your own equipment
Business Lease – the lease for your office or retail space should fit your needs, have a sufficient lease term, clearly spell out the landlord’s obligations, and limit the amount of rent/tax increases allowable
Confidentiality or Non-Disclosure Agreement – potential employees should sign this before interviews, so your proprietary information does not leave the building
Non-Compete Agreement – prevent a former employee or business partner from competing against you while they are employed and for a specified period of time after leaving your company
Software or Website Terms of Use Agreement – understand and comply with the terms of software licensing and website use agreements to avoid violations and potential fines or litigation

All of these contracts need to be carefully thought out, crafted, and reviewed. A small business attorney will help you through this process and represent you in the event of a dispute or litigation.

2. Elements of a Solid Contract

Entering into contracts with customers or clients for the sale of your products or services is an integral part of your small business. There are key elements every contract should contain. Without them, your contracts may be invalid.

Offer – an offer is an invitation or putting the word out that you are accepting contracts, like an advertisement in a store window
Acceptance – the customer accepts by taking you up on your offer; details of offer and acceptance will vary
Capacity – those who enter into contracts must be of mental, physical, and legal capacity to do so
Undue Influence – negative influence or coercion to enter into the contract is not permitted
Intention – both parties must intend for the contract to have legal consequences
Legality – certain formalities must be followed to make a contract legal; the purpose of the agreement must not be illegal

When key elements are omitted or one party does not comply with the terms, a contract has been breached. Whether you are allegedly at fault or the one who has been offended, a small business attorney will help you through your contract issue(s).

3. Errors Most Often Made in Contracts

Negotiating contracts is daunting, but it means you are in business. It also means you have to make decisions that have real legal implications. One poorly drafted or neglected contract can have devastating results for your business. You can avoid some of the most common mistakes before it is too late.

Not Having a Contract – do not allow the small or intimate nature of your business to leave you unprotected; contracts are necessary regardless of your business structure or employee relationships
Not Recognizing a Breach – have a clear process in place for dealing with a failure to pay, a product not delivered as expected, poor quality, or bad behavior
Not Providing an Opportunity for Termination – think beyond the breach; every business contract should have a way for both parties to exit the contract
Not Thinking About Dispute Resolution – consider mediation or arbitration before litigation; these are far less costly options
Not Specifying That a Contract Can be Assigned – make sure every contract can be assigned in the event of a merger, sale, or purchase of the company if an acquisition is the goal
Not Considering Intellectual Property – from day one, have everyone in the company sign a contract that assigns the intellectual property to the company

Before you commit any of these errors, a small business attorney can create, review, or revise your business contracts from startup contracts to ongoing contracts and specialty agreements.

If you need help with essentials, elements, and errors in contract law, contact me, Elizabeth Lewis, at the Law Office of E.C. Lewis, P.C., home of your Denver Business Attorney. Phone: 720-258-6647. Email: elizabeth.lewis@eclewis.com

Contact Us Today

Law Office of E.C. Lewis, P.C.
Your Denver Business Attorney

Mailing Address:

501 S. Cherry Street, Suite 1100
Denver, CO 80246
720-258-6647
Elizabeth.Lewis@eclewis.com

Online at:

10 Ways to De-Stress Your Business Tax Time

10 Ways to De-Stress Your Business Tax Time

10 Ways to De-Stress Your Business Tax Time

As a small business owner, tax time can be very stressful, especially if you wait until the last minute to try to organize a year’s worth of paperwork. In order to ease the stress and avoid potential trouble with the Colorado Department of Revenue or Internal Revenue Service (IRS), start thinking about tax time as all year round. There are steps you can take throughout the year to make a big difference in your total income and tax liability when it comes time to file. A small business attorney can give you tax advice on the right business structure and paying the right taxes on time as well as provide representation in the event of an audit or penalty. This post will cover 10 keys to getting organized and keeping accurate records to eliminate the anxiety of tax season.

Getting Your Taxes Organized

    1. Appoint time each month to reconcile your receipts, bank slips, statements, invoices, etc. By dedicating just a couple of hours every month to basic bookkeeping, you will avoid dealing with 12 months’ worth of accumulation all at once. You can make a list of steps to be prepared and add important deadlines, dates, and digital reminders to your calendar.
    2. Create a simple filing system for your paperwork. Keep everything in one place, and clearly label or name your folders. Both paper and electronic bookkeeping can be organized by month and type of record.
    3. Separate business and personal finances. Not only will separate bank and credit card accounts for your business make it easier to manage your books, it will enable you to produce legitimate business documents in the event of an audit.
    4. Review your business reports and records even if you have a bookkeeper or an accountant. It is your business and liability on the line, so it is vital to know what is going on. If you are looking to hire someone to do your taxes, the IRS suggests a list of questions to ask the prospective tax preparer.
    5. Prepare for next year as soon as you have filed for the current year. Make a list of steps and possible improvements for the following tax season while the success and/or struggle of the current one is still fresh on your mind.

 

Keeping Accurate Tax Records

 

  1. Understand your business structure and how it impacts your taxes. As your business grows and changes, it is important to reevaluate whether your current structure still works for you.
  2. Know how to claim your home office on your taxes. Whether you rent or own, you can claim a space that is designated for your business. It can be a partial space, rather than the whole room, and it must not be used for any other purpose. Once you have measured the space, you may be able to deduct a portion of expenses, like your mortgage interest, insurance, and utilities. The IRS has a home office deduction page with instructions.
  3. Record your mileage and car expenses if you use your car for business. There are two methods for calculating this deduction – one is based on your standard mileage rate, and the other is based on actual car expenses, like gas, repairs, and insurance. Whichever formula you choose, you will need documentation, including dates, mileage, tolls, parking fees, and the reason for your trip.
  4. Remember to save receipts from meals, travel, entertainment, and gifts. While you can deduct 50% of business-related meals, the cost of travel is 100% deductible. Most client entertainment expenses fall under the 50% deduction limit, while a direct gift to a client or employee is 100% deductible (up to $25 per person per year).
  5. Deduct office supplies even if you do not take the home office deduction. Furniture and other equipment, software/subscriptions, and telephone charges are also tax-deductible.

There are endless tips on how to streamline your business tax process as well as how to avoid a business tax audit. From starting a retirement plan, donating, and deferring income to not hiring too many independent contractors and limiting your business loss claims, the possibilities are seemingly endless. A small business attorney will help you sift through the checklists and keep prepared for each new tax season.

If you need help with your business taxes, or just need to find ways to de-stress business tax time tasks for your small business, contact me, Elizabeth Lewis, at the Law Office of E.C. Lewis, P.C., home of your Denver Small Business Lawyer. Phone: 720-258-6647. Email: elizabeth.lewis@eclewis.com

Contact Us Today

Law Office of E.C. Lewis, P.C.
Your Denver Business Attorney

Mailing Address:

501 S. Cherry Street, Suite 1100
Denver, CO 80246
720-258-6647
Elizabeth.Lewis@eclewis.com

Online at: