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October 22, 2020 – The Insider Fix

By October 27, 2020May 18th, 2021No Comments

Enjoy Alex’s recent Insider Fix newsletter featuring the latest entrepreneurial, legal, and one random fix to help you. Alex hopes that these three hacks to be so useful that they will multiply and provide you a 10-fold return.

Professional Development

Getting the right butts into the right seats, and then keeping them there, has been one of the greatest challenges and one of the greatest successes we’ve had. We’ve got some real rockstars in our company. Some have been with us for over a decade now. Others we lost because I was night-blind to their needs and their wiring. It’s taken a lot of failing for me over the years. A lot of lesson-learning. A lot of ego-checking. I’m still learning.

But I’ve gotten some pretty big boosts over time. I have regular one-on-ones with them where we go over the same four questions every meeting. (“What’s working well?” “What could be working better?” “What do you want to talk about?” “Can I help you with anything?”) This year, we brought in a professional development coach to work with our team on goal-setting and goal-achievement and goal-tracking.

Then there are assessments. I think they’re critical; there are a ton of them out there. I’ve used Kolbe over the years. Pradco, a local company that’s been around and popular around here for 60 years, has a great reputation too. Most recently, though, I’ve been using Culture Index. It’s been a real eye-opener. Our advisor, Chas Moscarino, gave everyone at our firm a 7-minute written survey, then met with our leadership team and, without ever meeting or talking to any of the survey-takers, told me more about my employees than I’ve known about them in years. How to talk to them. How to delegate to them. How they think and work. Each one different from the rest. It was pretty mind-blowing.

I recommend Chas and Culture Index to everyone these days, but the right assessment tool is key. It really adds to the arsenal of employee engagement efforts.

Protecting Your Company

Founders often think that the key to limiting your liability and protecting your personal assets is simply filing an LLC registration with the secretary of state. It’s not that simple.

First, if you have more than one company and they’re sharing assets, you want an inter-company agreement and separate bookkeeping consistent with that agreement. You also want to make sure all personal and business expenses are separated and properly documented to avoid a commingling argument.

Second, you still want a form of agreement. If you’re sole owner, it’s a Declaration of Operating Agreement for an LLC, for example. If you have partners, you want a good partnership agreement (an “operating agreement” if it’s an LLC, or a “shareholder agreement” if it’s a corporation). Many of our clients pulled one from some commoditized contract drafting service when they were startups, signed it, and put it on the shelf, never to see it again. This is a document that should evolve with the company and should definitely be drafted by a good business lawyer.  If you haven’t looked at yours in 5 years, take a look at it and think about how your partnership has evolved and what issues have come up since it was drafted. My guess is that you’ll want to update it. (For example, divorce or bankruptcy can saddle you with partners you don’t want, so make sure your agreement has a transfer restriction in it to prevent your partner’s ex or bankruptcy trustee from taking their interests).

Third, get an estate plan. Trusts may create additional asset protection mechanisms if done correctly. If you already have one, update it. Tax laws change, and so do family units. Both are good reasons to take another look.

Finally, have your lawyer talk to your insurance agent. It amazes me that they rarely talk. Have your attorney review your policy and point you to the exclusions. Talk about employment practices liability and statutory coverage and cyber-coverage.

Your LLC, your estate plan, and your insurance policy need to work hand-in-hand with each other. Your contract documents support them too. (See the last two Insider Fixes for limitations of liability clause explanations).

Psychological Tricks and Secrets

In this Random Section of today’s Insider’s Fix, a truly Insider-y Fix-y set of Insider’s Fixes for you, worthy of the name, from our friends at Recommendo:

Hope y’all enjoyed this issue.

Oh, and I love hearing from you, so send me your feedback and your ideas. You can send them to me here. Thanks!

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