How We Are Different
Business Planning That Helps You Be As Creative And Expansive As Possible
You have already seen from our welcome that we are different. We speak different than most lawyers, and chances are we talk more like you than most of our colleagues do.
That’s because we are you.
First and foremost, we are entrepreneurs – business owners just like you – who understand what it takes to start a business, grow a business, and turn that business into a venture that improves the world forever.
Explaining to you how we are different (in ways you can’t see on the surface) requires an explanation of what the “traditional” experience with a business lawyer is like.
If you’ve worked with a lawyer to prepare business entity formation or incorporation documents for you in the past, this will sound familiar.
What A Traditional Lawyer Experience Is Like
During that traditional experience, you will go in and meet with a lawyer who might make things seem complicated and confusing.
You’ll have a good idea that the lawyer is smart and seems to know what he or she is doing, so you’ll nod and answer questions as if you understand everything. Because you want to do the right thing for your business, you’ll have the lawyer prepare incorporation documents for you and you’ll sign the documents, feeling relieved that you’ve got that taken care of.
Maybe you will get a fancy Corporate Record Binder to take home with you – maybe. (I have seen plenty of lawyers who don’t even do that.) You’ll take your fancy binder home, stick it on a shelf or in a drawer, mark "incorporate business" off your checklist as DONE and never think about it again. Until something happens, that is.
You might remember your business lawyer said something about agreements you make with clients, vendors, lenders, or partners, but it didn’t go beyond conversation and you realize you still have open-ended unwritten agreements.
Maybe you even asked your lawyer for help but you call your lawyer’s office, get a voicemail, leave a message and wait for a call back, which takes several hours at least and sometimes days, and by that time you’ll have gotten busy with other things and never get around to finishing that agreement.
And it’s the same way for all those other things you know you need to – trademarks, copyrights, insurance, and maybe even financial systems and tax strategy.
Perhaps you do connect with your lawyer by phone, ask a few questions and then a few weeks later, you get a bill in the mail for $67.50 for 15 minutes of your lawyer’s time for answering a couple of questions. You make a mental note – don’t call lawyer ever again unless absolutely necessary.
Most People Don't Want To Talk To Their Traditional Lawyer Again
Years go by and you don’t talk to your lawyer. What you don’t realize is that you not only never finalized your agreements but your lawyer never customized your operating agreement or bylaws. You have not been holding annual meetings or documenting any meeting minutes.
Business will go on and you’ll know you’ve got these things hanging out there incomplete, but you are way too busy to think about it. It puts a slight drag on your creativity to know these things are undone but you don’t want to call your lawyer because you know you’ll get a bill in the mail two weeks later.
Plus your lawyer doesn’t seem to be able to move things forward either and you are simply too busy to project-manage anything that does not contribute to the bottom line.
You’ll hear something about a change in the tax law, but you figure you’d surely get a letter in the mail from your lawyer if it was something that affected you so you don’t worry about it. And you’d have to dig through boxes to find your incorporation documents so you can remember your lawyer’s name and find her contact information. Who has time for that?
It’s not until something happens like an employee lawsuit, a client complaint, a vendor dispute, a big tax bill or an audit, or perhaps your need or desire to borrow money or raise capital that you realize with a sinking feeling that your corporate documents are incomplete. You're not able to respond properly to the situation.
You are at a loss.
And you can see clearly that you’ve lost time by not having this all taken care of and, boy, are things an emotional mess.
What you may not know is that you’ve been losing money all the way along. Or at the very least keeping your business from generating anywhere close to the profits it can.
You see, having your business legal affairs in order and complete is as a high priority as having your marketing plan and business model in place. It’s one of the little known secrets to the most successful companies – they were set up right.
It’s no mistake that the IRS audits unincorporated sole proprietors 5-7 times more often than it does incorporated business entities. It seems that the IRS knows that if you do not have your business set up right, you are probably not doing your taxes right. And we know that you are probably also not hiring and firing right, do not have enough (or too much) insurance and that it’s probably not the right type. You are probably paying more for insurance than you need to as well, if you have it at all.
All of this leads to your business being built on a house of cards, one crisis away from closing your doors.
How Do I Know All This?
I know all of this because not too long ago my own business was set up this way too; and once I saw how my business changed when I took care of the foundation, I swore I would never let this happen to one of my clients.
And since then, I have counseled many clients who have come in to see me and who have had this exact experience.
Unfortunately, what I discovered is that most lawyers who hold themselves out as business lawyers do nothing more for their clients than incorporate their entity and send them on their way.
Heck, you could get your business entity incorporated a lot less expensively by using a DIY service if that’s all you are going to have taken care of by your lawyer.
Your business lawyer should be a counselor, not just a document preparer.
Our Firm Helps You Create The Business Growth And Success You Truly Want
What makes our firm different is that we were built with the needs of growing businesses in mind. Just because you can’t afford or don’t need in-house general counsel doesn’t mean you don’t need counsel.
We are that counsel.
We understand you are BUSY, you are growing, you are planning for a business of prosperity and you value ease, convenience and efficiency. You want to know you’ve made the best decisions for your business and that you’ve got all the business details handled so you can be as creative and expansive as possible.
This is our focus as well.
We have developed unique, ongoing strategic support to give you access to your personal lawyer for your family and your business, as was previously only available to the likes of the owners and executives at Google, Facebook, and Zappos so you can have the guidance you need to build a business of meaning, significance and serious profitability.
We encourage communication with our clients. In fact, we have thrown out the time clocks so you never have to be afraid to call with a quick question. Everything we do is billed on a flat-fee monthly basis, agreed to in advance, so there are never any surprises.
Our Team Is Here For You
When you call our office to ask your quick question, you won’t have to wait hours or days for a phone call back. You’ll get your question answered quickly, usually right away.
And if you need to schedule a more in-depth legal or strategic call because you have something beyond a quick question, a call will be scheduled when we are both available and ready for the call so that we can make the very best use of your time and not waste your time by leaving voicemail after voicemail back and forth.
And we monitor your business activities on a regular basis (determined by the planning level chosen with our firm) so we can be proactive about ensuring deals are documented, business moves forward, new ideas are protected, new hires have agreements in place and your company is always in order.
We have created unique membership programs to keep your legal, insurance, financial and tax affairs up to date month after month and we give you access to our trusted team of legal experts for guidance on any legal or financial matter.
Here’s the way we look at it: one day you will need a lawyer.
We don’t know why and we don’t know when but when you do, you will be grateful you can call on us and we’ll be here to advise you or get you out of a jam.
We Help You Leave A Legacy
Lastly, we don’t just take care of your business now – we make sure it will be a valuable asset that continues to create wealth for your family after you are gone. This is what true legacy is all about.
Many business lawyers overlook this most important of issues.
One day you will either want to sell your business or you will want to pass it on to your loved ones so that they are taken care of by what you’ve built.
Businesses built right are built with this in mind. And that’s exactly what we help you do – build a business that can run without you one day.
And that means you can take vacation, retire, or pass your business on to your family and know it will continue to bring in money, serve your clients and benefit everyone who comes into contact with it.
And really, what could be better than that? Ultimately that is why you are in business, right?
We have developed several tools that allow us to support you to start, grow and prepare for selling or passing your business that deeply serves the world, your clients and your life.
I can’t go into all of the details here but we’ll definitely talk about when you come in for your LIFT Your Life and Business Planning Session.
We look forward to seeing you and caring for your business soon!
Rose A. Coonen
P.S. If you think this all sounds like it’s going to be expensive, well you are right and you’re wrong. I can guarantee you that if you qualify to meet with us, your overall fees will be substantially less costly than it would be for your family, business partner or clients if you became incapacitated or died without handling these matters or if your business gets in a jam without these things being taken care of. I’ve never had a single business owner who believed in this kind of planning and wanted to put it in place for their business leave my office because they couldn’t afford it. We’ve made creative financing available to our clients because we know that this planning is the foundation for a business of success!
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Coonen Law, PLLC
5035 Plainfield, NE, Suite A
Grand Rapids, MI 49525
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