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You are currently browsing the The Collins Firm blog archives for July, 2011.

Archive for July, 2011

Leases, Leases, Leases…All you need to know!

All you need to know about leases?  That’s easy, don’t sign ANYTHING until your lawyer looks it over for you….that makes for a really short article, but it’s really true.  There are two types of leases:  real estate and business leases.

  1. Real Estate Leases.

For real estate, you are signing a lease for commercial property for your business.  This lease can be for retail, office, industrial, warehouse or any myriad of other business needs that you may have.  One thing all leases have in common, though, is that all leases are an obligation that the company will face for years to come.

Remember, when you sign a real estate lease, you are committing your company via contract to pay a sum of money every month for a wide variety of different terms.  A key consideration is that almost all leases are negotiable.  This means that you may be able to get better terms than what you see on the initial lease proposal from the landlord.  Should you accept the landlord’s first offer?  The answer is almost always NO!  You can get better terms and sometimes far better terms by just asking for changes to the lease.  This is why The Collins Firm should be your partner in negotiating important lease agreements and contracts before you sign them.  Once you sign the contracts, you are obligated and there’s almost no chance of gaining concessions in the future.

The Collins Firm has years of experience negotiating real estate leases and agreements with contracts and can advise you on issues that most likely can be negotiated and can help you develop strategies that will often save you money for years.  This is one of the few times when hiring a lawyer can save you money.  Before you sign any commercial real estate lease, you owe it to your long term success to consult The Collins Firm to see how we can help you get the most from your lease negotiations.

  1. Commercial Leases

The second type of lease is the commercial lease which can be for equipment, software, or any of a wide variety of other products and services outside of real estate.

Commercial leases come in a wide variety of types, terms and styles.  These contracts are often negotiable just like real estate leases.  While it is not always possible to negotiate terms in a commercial lease, you need to know what you’re getting into before you sign.

Just as is the case with real estate leases, you may gain tremendous benefit from having your commercial lease reviewed by The Collins Firm before you sign.  Even though you may not be able to negotiate as much on a commercial lease as you can on a real estate lease, you have nothing to lose by at least trying to negotiate key terms.  Before you can do anything, you need to know what the key issues you and where they arise in the contract.  Many times, the most onerous terms of a contract may be hidden in the small print, so you need a good lawyer to translate the legal jargon to real words that you can understand and negotiate.

What can The Collins Firm do for you?  The Collins Firm can help you identify provisions worthy of further review and negotiation and will provide you with a clear and concise summary of how your company is being obligated going forward. Contact The Collins Firm today to learn how The Collins Firm can help you with your next lease.

Incorporation Considerations…

The Collins Firm can help you start your business through the selection of the proper business form.

Whether you should set up an LLC, partnership, S Corporation or C Corporation, we can help you with the decision process.  We are proud to help individuals and businesses choose the best business form that meets your needs and circumstances.   Through careful analysis 0f your goals, ownership situation, business plan, tax matters and other considerations, we’ll work with you to discern the best corporate form for your business.

One important consideration that you must take into account in any corporate formation analysis concerns tax issues.   The Collins Firm has extensive experience in setting up corporations and will ask you the important questions needed to plan for the proper handling of tax issues.  Tax considerations are often determinative of the proper business form and at a minimum will  greatly influence the business form you need to utilize for your new business.

The Collins Firm will also prepare all the documents you’ll need not only to open your business but will get you everything you need to open your bank accounts.  We also help you get your Tax Identification Number so you can start business right away.  The Collins Firm can get you a full turn key corporate solution within just a few business days.

We will customize your business form to meet your needs and the needs of the business you want to start.   Contact the Collins Firm today to get started!!

If you don’t have a website…It’s time to get one!

The business world of business now requires you to build and operate at least some internet presence.  The internet is now a far more powerful business generation tool than the Yellow Pages or any other medium for generating customers.  You need to take advantage of the power of the internet and The Collins Firm has the experience to help your business navigate the legal waters of ecommerce.

In order to build your web presence, you’ll need some key documents and forms that The Collins Firm can help you identify and refine.  Here is a short analysis of the documents you need to get your business off the ground:

1.  Privacy Policy – Because the internet is truly forever, you need to assure visitors to your site that you have a privacy policy and that you respect visitor and customer privacy.  Every company treats customer information differently so the Privacy Policy must be custom tailored to meet the specific needs of your business.

2. Terms and Conditions – The Terms and Conditions document is an important part of your business website as it specifies the way that you do business and the obligations your company is willing to take on in order to operate a business arrangement.  The Terms document must be custom tailored to meet the needs of your business and specific operations, so you’ll need to work with an attorney like The Collins Firm to make sure the Terms page meets your needs.

3.  Acceptable Use Policy – The Acceptable Use Policy is another document that is vital for a service based business with an internet presence.  This document sets the standards for what a customer may or may not do with the service that is being sold and as the name implies, outlines acceptable uses of the service.

The Collins Firm has years of experience assisting companies build and grow their internet based businesses and developing the kinds of forms and documents that will help you get the most from the potential of internet business.

For more information or call for a free telephone consultation at 404-214-6070 or email The Collins Firm for more information!

 

COLLECTIONS – THE KEY TO MAINTING REVENUE

Sales are useless if you don’t collect the money so you to ramp up your collections efforts so that you get the benefit of all of your hard earned sales.  The Collins Firm can help you build and develop a cash collection system offering flexibility to avoid making customers angry as well as firmness to ensure collection.

The key to an effective collections system is to lay out expectations at the beginning of your business relationship. This means that your contracts and invoices should all state clearly when money is due and the ramifications for failure to meet the payment requirements. I recommend adding late fee and interest provisions to any standard contract.  Whether to add this information to your invoice as well is another question that requires further consideration.

The next step in the collections process is internal notification systems for your staff to use to monitor outstanding money and contact customers to collect this money.  The Collins Firm can help you build and develop an internal process that is highly effective in collecting accounts receivables.

If your internal collections efforts still do not get the results that you seek, then it’s time to get legal assistance.  The Collins Firm helps many businesses with collections efforts and has developed a proprietary process that is the most efficient and effective way to collect from business debtors.  With a choice of billing options as either contingent or hourly billing, The Collins Firm can help you collect your toughest accounts.

Call for a free telephone consultation at 404-214-6070 or email The Collins Firm for more information today!

Georgia’s New Employment Law…What you need to know

In 2011, Georgia established a new law governing and managing employee agreements.  In this blog post, I’m going to talk a little about employment law prior to the new code, employment law after the new code and what you need to do to protect your business.  Check back here for new articles on non-compete provisions and non-solicitation provisions as they relate to employment law as well.

This new law is actually the first time that employment agreements have ever been a part of the written Georgia Code.  In the links section, you’ll find a link to the Georgia Code which lists all of the statutes and laws in the state of Georgia.

What you won’t find online, though, is the case law that forms Georgia’s common law.  Until this year, employment agreements were governed by a patch work of case decisions by the Georgia Supreme Court, Georgia Court of Appeals and the local Federal courts.  To say the least, this created a situation that made it impossible to use an employment agreement with certainty about interpretation and outcome in the event of a court challenge.

Employment law has always been governed by general contract law, which actually originated in the old English common law.  This common law is based on centuries of contract disputes throughout the English court system.  Most of these English decisions were adopted by the early US Courts and thus became a part of our common law as well.

The law regarding employee agreements in general and non-compete and non-soliciation agreement have changed dramatically.  In many ways, the new statutory regiment if far more advantageous to business owners and managers than the old common law standards and you owe it to yourself to explore how these new standards can help your business.

All employment agreements currently in place are still going to be governed by the common law and are NOT going to be judged by the new statutory provisions.  In order to protect your business, you need have your employment agreements reviewed.  In many situations, you may be better served by developing and using new employment agreements for your key personnel, sales people, customer support people and technical support people.  Basically, anyone who has access to and contact with customers, processes, systems, and intellectual property should sign some kind of employment agreement.

Please contact The Collins Firm today for a free consultation about updating your employment agreements.  Stay tuned for additional posts about employment agreements in this series.

Quality Forms and Contracts Help You Succeed!

What kind of order forms do you have in place or will you need for your business?  This seems to be an obvious question to most small business owners, but is it really?   The purpose of this article is to help you identify potential forms and legal documents that you’ll need to protect and operate your business; all services are available through The Collins Firm.

Whether you offer a product or service plays a major part in the form choice and the type of documents you need. Here are just a few considerations you should keep in mind when thinking about your order forms and other legal documents you’ll need to safely and securely operate your business:

1.  Product Orders – If you sell tangible products and it’s a one-time sale, then you will need a sales order form that includes information such as quantity, product description, payment terms, return restrictions, warranty and much more.  You need quality legal help to build and design an agreement for any product and meeting the needs of your business with an emphasis on compact but effective order forms.

2.  Service Agreements – If you sell a service or intangible product, then you will need a service agreement spelling out information such as term, service descriptions, warranty, delivery method of the service, payment options and much more.  A service agreement tends to be much more extensive than a compact product order form so plan to spend more time mapping out the processes that need to be covered in your standard service agreement.

3.  Internet Agreements – If you currently offer or plan to offer products, services or market your business on the internet, then you will need some basic documents and forms to manage and govern the relationship between you and visitors to your website.  These forms include, but are not limited to a privacy policy, terms of use, and acceptable use policy. Check out this article on internet presence.

4.  Software Licensing – If you design or develop software, websites or other technology, then you will need a software or technology license to sell and service your product.  The key component of this type of agreement is the specification of ownership of the product and the extensive use options available to you.

5.  Employment and Consulting Agreements –Nothing is more important than the people you have helping you build and grown your business.  Since these people are exposed to your business plans, marketing strategies and other important trade secrets, you need detailed agreement to outline and govern the rights and obligations between your company and these important people.  Whether you hire people as employees or consultants, then you need solid agreements to govern the rights and responsibilities of your relationship.

6. Intellectual Property Agreements – Depending on your company and how you operate, intellectual property can mean anything from development and protection of trademarks and trade names to patents, processes and other materials and trade secrets you may make available to third parties.

As you can see there are a vast array of forms and agreements you may need just to get your business started. However, the investment you make in your operations early, will pay off in the long term as your business grows and develops.  The Collins Firm is experienced in building and developing the forms and contracts you need to make your business successful.

All you want to know about The Collins Firm…

The principal of The Collins Firm is Matthew P. Collins who has operated his law practice for almost twenty years.  The Collins Firm provides a wide array of legal services for small and midsize businesses worldwide.

The Collins Firm has helped businesses grow and succeed for almost twenty years by working with clients to grow and develop their businesses through negotiating and drafting contracts, merger agreements, and other transactional agreements.  Additional legal services include business formation and document drafting and review, terms of service, privacy policies, license agreements, DMCA claims and much more.

One reason for the success of The Collins Firm in helping businesses is that Mr. Collins has been a business owner of several successful businesses.  With this background, Mr. Collins is able to provide superior advice and legal analysis that is based on a far wider foundation of knowledge than a typical lawyer may possess.  This real world business experience gives clients the information needed to make quality decisions essential to building a successful business.

Because of the twenty year history of The Collins Firm, clients can obtain fast and efficient legal services that save them money.  Since time is money, the extensive experience of the firm provides the tools necessary for legal services to be provided expediently.

Please contact The Collins Firm to learn more.  Here’s how to reach us:

Email:                         info@mpcollins.com

Phone:                        404-214-6070

Fax:                             678-669-1518

Mail Address:           PO Box 191062

Atlanta, Georgia 31119

Physical Address:    Five Concourse Parkway, Suite 3000

Atlanta, Georgia 30328

What Corporate Structure is Best for Your Company?

What type of business entity is right for you and your business?  Today there are many choices for your consideration so you should spend some time reviewing your options so you can make the right decision for you and your company.  You need to choose the best business form that meets your needs and The Collins Firm is happy to help you analyze the choices and options available to you and your business.

Due consideration should be given for the choice of business formation and the type of business entity you should use.  In most states, there are several different types of business entities you can use for your business formation and I’ll spend a few minutes here looking at these options:

1.  Sole proprietorship – This type of business is used for VERY small businesses but does not afford any liability protection.  Most attorneys agree that this is the business form you should NOT use because of potential exposure to personal liability for events of the business.

2.  Corporation – This type of business entity is traditionally the most common business form and is very popular in large businesses especially long term established businesses.   The law regarding corporations has a long history thus giving you predictability in legal operations.  Many companies want to stay with a traditional corporation as that gives the feeling of stability and establishment that many businesses are seeking.

3.  Limited Liability Companies – This type of business is fairly new and does not have the long history of legal precedence, but the LLC law itself is modern and totally updated.  The LLC is often a good choice for small and medium sized businesses and in fact, I prefer to set up most of my clients as a Limited Liability Company because this form offers a wide variety of tax options in terms of how the company is treated.  Of course, this form does offer liability protection for individual owners.

4.  Partnership – This type of business is often used for very small partnerships involving two or more individuals.  Like a sole proprietorship, the form does not provide any liability protection so it is not a good form for most businesses.

5.  Limited Partnership and Limited Liability Partnership – This type of business generally provides the benefits of a partnership with the legal protections of a corporation.

As you can see there are many options for your consideration when it comes to corporate formation so it behooves you and any small business owner to check out the form that’s best for you and your business.

For more information, call for a free telephone consultation at 404-214-6070. You may also email us at info@mpcollins.com.

 

Welcome to The Collins Firm!

Welcome to the internet home of The Collins Firm, a law firm dedicated to assisting small to mid size businesses like yours with the legal services you need to start, build and develop a growing business.

The Collins Firm is uniquely qualified to help you with your business because of real world experience developed from working with small to midsized businesses for almost twenty years.  More importantly, Mr. Collins has built and run many small businesses himself, most of them based on the internet.

You will find that The Collins Firm has expertise and efficiency in a wide variety of business matters that will give you a legal edge over your competitors.

We have a thorough understanding of the ever changing business environment, and stand ready to protect your business interests.

We are dedicated to providing excellence in legal services for your business needs.  Call us at 404-214-6070 or email us at matt@mpcpc.com to learn more about The Collins Firm today.