New Year’s Resolution: Resolve to Get Paid in 2016

As the new year dawns, many individuals make resolutions to try and make better decisions and lead a healthier and a more active lifestyle; the most common example is the resolution to lose weight and get in shape, while many others resolve to give up bad habits such as smoking, but many business owners need to aim to be prosperous, and to get paid.

Often these resolutions fall by the wayside before Martin Luther King Day arrives and few will ever make it past Valentine’s Day.  However, there are those whose resolutions make it far beyond the spring thaw and those who can keep their New Year’s Resolutions are usually much better off than those who recanted.

When it comes to small businesses, a New Year’s Resolution can also lead to increased prosperity in the New Year.  Many small business owners feel renewed by the prospect of starting fresh in a new year and are reinforced by the belief that this will be “their year.”  However, one thing that many small business owners may be surprised to learn is that a great way to help cement that idea and help the bottom line moving forward is to actually look back.

Nearly every business on Long Island, both large and small, have outstanding debts owed to them.  These could be venders who did not deliver on time or at all, sales gone unpaid, contracts breached or interest and penalties gone unenforced.  Often this money goes uncollected to the detriment of the business and vicariously to the business owners themselves.

Going after customers and venders for money is often the last thing that a business owner wants to spend time doing.  Many people would rather use their resources to get new business rather than lament on old business that went bad.   Thus, many choose to “write it off” or “take the loss” or “cut their losses” on such matters.

The good news for businesses in New York is that it does not have to be that way.

They can have it both ways.  Hiring an attorney to collect old debts, those less than six years old anyway, would allow the business owner to still devote their energy to garnering new business, while the attorney collects from those customers and vendors who have wronged you and hurt your business by refusing to pay or breaching their contracts with you.

There are various methods that an attorney can utilize in collecting a debt that a lay-person may not be privy to beyond that of filing suit.  Often businesses and individuals, out of fear of litigation, may suddenly pay the debt or try to work a settlement after receiving a letter on the letterhead of a law firm.  The involvement of an attorney shows that you are serious about the debt and enforcing it.

While it is true that by utilizing an attorney will often mean that a business may not ultimately receive the total amount owned, remember that the debt was not being paid at all before the attorney started working on the case.  The amount owed to the business was just dead, sunken money.  A hungry person does not reject half a loaf of bread because he knows half of a loaf of bread is still better than no bread at all.


“New Year’s Resolution: Resolve to Get Paid in 2016” was written by Michael B. Schulman, Managing Attorney.

Starting Your Own Business? Begin With Preparation!

Starting your own business sounds simple, but there are a lot of traps and pitfalls that could doom your new start-up before it even gets off the ground. Starting a new business and being successful is extremely difficult. The odds are stacked against you from the start. Preparation BEFORE you go live and start “making money” is of the utmost importance.

Build a name for yourself

First, come up with a name that will get you noticed and in some way expresses the nature of your new business. Try to come up with a name that is unique, not commonplace and sets you apart from your prospective competition.

Another vital aspect is to protect yourself is by trademarking your name and/or design and to then put it on everything you do, from business cards, to invoices, to proposal sheets, and more. This is now you. This is your identity. How powerful is a trademark. Take Nike for example. What is their trademark? It is a glorified check mark, nothing more. But everyone knows the Nike swish. And no one else, but Nike, can use it.

Hire the proper team.

All successful businesses have an attorney and an accountant who have the expertise to assist them.

If you have partners, make sure that you have a partnership (shareholders) agreement in place from the very beginning. This will ensure they remain constructive members of your team. Make sure everyone knows their duties, obligations and responsibilities and are clear on how the new business entity will operate. For instance, WHO IS IN CHARGE? Do not leave anything to chance. A good attorney should draft an agreement that addresses as many potential issues and problems as possible.  This can avoid confusion and future conflict. Clients sometimes ask to keep it short. Short agreements are usually shortsighted. Hopefully, you will put the signed agreement in a desk someplace and never see it again. But good lawyers help their clients, “work for the best, but plan for the worst.”

Come up with a good business plan.

Hire a good business accountant to put together a proforma balance sheet and income statement to present to banks and others to obtain credit. You must understand the documents and be able explain the numbers confidently when asked. Be educated so you can educate anyone you may want to assist you with your business.

Signing Documents

DON’T SIGN anything without it being reviewed by your attorney. So many times people sign leases or rental agreements or other business agreements without understanding the ramifications of what they are signing because it is a pre-printed form or they are told it is a “standard” agreement. Nothing is standard and a pre-printed form can have a rider or an addendum, A “simple” lease is not so simple. A “standard” loan agreement is not so standard. The “usual” guarantee may not be so usual, or even required.

Remember, all successful businesses are built on a strong foundation. Make sure your foundation is strong by hiring the right professionals from the beginning and above all, preparing for your successful future.


“Starting Your Own Business? Begin With Preparation!” was written by Michael B. Schulman